Traditionally, when we hear the term brow lift, our mind often goes to an invasive surgery that requires prep and recovery time. And when looking for a permanent solution, a surgical brow lift may indeed be the answer. That said, the guarantee of forever can be scary—especially when tweaking the face.
One alternative? A Botox brow lift. With minimal aftercare and non-permanent results, a Botox brow lift is the treatment equivalent of dipping your toes into the pool before deciding if you want to be soaked or not. We tapped four experts—nurse practitioners Vanessa Coppola, APN-C, and Heidi Olson, APRN, board-certified dermatologist Azadeh Shirazi, MD, and oculoplastic surgeon Kami Parsa, MD—to get the ins and outs of Botox brow lifts. Keep reading for what they had to say.
Meet the Expert
- Vanessa Coppola, APN-C, FNP-BC, is the founder and CEO of Bare Aesthetic.
- Azadeh Shirazi, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in La Jolla, California, and the founder of AziMD Skincare.
- Kami Parsa, MD, is a Beverly Hills-based oculoplastic surgeon.
- Heidi Olson, APRN, FNP-C, is a SkinSpirit aesthetic nurse practitioner.
What Is A Botox Brow Lift?
"Botox relaxes specific facial muscles that normally pull the eyebrows down, therefore allowing the lifting muscles to take over," explains Shirazi.
Coppola says that the frontalis or forehead muscle is probably the most important muscle in this respect, as it is responsible for the elevation of our brows. "If you raise up your eyebrows in the mirror and haven't been treated with a neuromodulator, you will see that the frontalis muscle will contract (wrinkle up) to lift the brow. By very selectively targeting these muscles with neuromodulator injections, we can change the shape and position of the brow. Typical brow elevation with a neuromodulator, or what we call a 'Botox brow lift' or a 'chemical brow lift,' is between one to three millimeters."
Note: While Botox is the most recognizable name, there are currently five FDA-approved neurotoxins on the U.S. market: Botox, Dysport, Xeomin, Jeuveau, and Daxxify. "All have the same active ingredient: botulinum toxin type A," explains Olsen. "There are different features and protein configurations to each that may affect the diffusion and efficacy of the injection." Your professional injector will evaluate which neurotoxin product makes the most sense to address your concerns.
Benefits Of A Botox Brow Lift
- Minimally invasive: "A Botox brow lift is perfect for anyone looking for a non-surgical, minimally-invasive alternative [for] lifting their brows," says Parsa. "It's also perfect for anyone new to cosmetic surgery, as it's relatively painless and not permanent. A Botox brow lift lasts up to 3-4 months."
- Reduces eyelid hooding: "Every individual has a different arch and anatomy of not only their eyebrow but their upper eyelid and eyes," explains Olson. "It is common for individuals to have excess skin above their eyelid." This can be caused by multiple factors, but aging and heredity are the most common. "Depending on the patient's anatomy and goals, they can benefit from a brow lift by simply raising the eyebrow to feel their eyes are more open, awake, and refreshed."
- Creates symmetry: "When we think of classical proportions in terms of eyebrows, typically the greatest point of elevation of the arch of the brow is between the medial iris of the eye and the most lateral aspect of the hairy part of the brow," Coppola explains. "However, different brow positions come in and out of style." A Botox brow lift can help you achieve a new or different look.
Generally speaking, the benefits of a Botox brow lift are just that: More lifted brows and a tighter, more-awake look.
What to Expect During a Botox Brow Lift
Unlike a surgical brow lift, a Botox brow lift doesn't require much prep. "It's best to avoid blood thinners like ibuprofen, vitamin E, and fish oil for two weeks before and alcohol three days before to avoid the risk of bruising," Shirazi shares. "There's some evidence that taking a zinc supplement five days before your injection appointment and five days after may allow the Botox to work better." The experts also recommend eating and hydrating before your appointment to avoid feeling lightheaded after the injections.
During the appointment, your provider may provide ice packs to numb the injection areas. You'll then be injected with Botox via tiny pokes from thin needles that may feel like a small, quick pinch. Pain will vary person-to-person.
After your injections, "you will have tiny little red bumps where you were injected. These will resolve within approximately 15 to 20 minutes," Coppola explains. "Anytime a needle pierces the skin, there is always the risk of a bruise; however, if bruising does occur, it is usually minimal and can be covered with makeup the next day."
Coppola says your provider will give you post-care instructions. These will vary from provider to provider but "typically include some activity restrictions for about four hours after the injections. You will be advised to avoid exercise for 24 hours and to avoid any compressive facial procedures such as lying face down for a massage or getting a facial for a few days. Other than that, you are free to resume your life normally. It typically takes about five to seven days to see the results, and it does take a full two weeks for the maximum effect."
Potential Side Effects
Generally, Botox is considered safe. That said, it's always important to consult your healthcare provider before injecting any toxin or material into your body.
As for aesthetic side effects, the experts note that Botox always comes with the risk of asymmetrical results and sometimes ptosis, known as the drooping of the upper eyelid.
A Botox brow lift can cost upward of $1,000 in cities like New York and Los Angeles, though elsewhere, you may pay closer to $300-400. As with most injectables, the cost can vary drastically based on units and geographic location.
Alternatives to a Botox Brow Lift
Today, there are multiple methods for lifting the brows, varying from surgical brow lifts to energy-based lifts, with many options in between. "Surgical brow lifting would provide the greatest elevation of the brow with the most permanent results," confirms Coppola. "However, it's important to know that more conservative treatments should always be considered before going to a more invasive procedure such as surgery."
As for the more conservative treatments, "radiofrequency or micro-focused ultrasound treatments such as Ultherapy are FDA-approved methods for lifting the brow," Coppola says. Additionally, "PTO thread lifts can achieve very dramatic lifting in the brow. However, the effects are temporary."
The Final Takeaway
It's easy to get lost in the world of social media, celebrities, and pressure to change our appearance, but here is your reminder that cosmetic tweaks are never necessary. That said, if you choose to change your appearance (for you and only you), non-permanent options like Botox can be great alternatives to going under the knife. Just make sure to choose a licensed professional.
American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, Botox-type injectables, neurotoxins. ABCS. (2023, January 3).
Koshy, John C et al. “Effect of dietary zinc and phytase supplementation on botulinum toxin treatments.” Journal of drugs in dermatology : JDD vol. 11,4 (2012): 507-12.