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Forehead-Brow Rhytidoplasty: Reassessing the Goals

Matarasso Alan M.D.; Terino, Edward O. M.D.
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: June 1994
Original Article: PDF Only

Forehead-eyebrow rhytidoplasty traditionally has been advocated for senile brow ptosis. As the procedure became more widely accepted, it became a routine consideration in facial rejuvenation surgery. Indeed, over time, forehead-eyebrow rhytidoplasty also has withstood the initial criticism that was lodged against it of limited longevity, and it is realized that as with all other lifting procedures, it will gradually succumb to time, gravity, and the aging process. Moreover, refinements in techniques have added versatility to the procedure so that a variety of problems encountered in the upper face in addition to brow ptosis can be addressed. Consequently, an eclectic population with a range of deformities benefits from the procedure. Recently, though, it has seemed that the pendulum is swinging back, and that some surgeons are hesitating to incorporate forehead surgery because patients are voicing dissatisfaction with it.

In order to assess the goals and indications for surgery, we reviewed a series of 350 patients who had a variety of aesthetic complaints in the upper face. Traditionally, patients' “other” indications for surgery, exclusive of brow ptosis, have been referred to as secondary (minor) indications. Now, with closer scrutiny, it appears that such problems, including forehead rhytids, frown muscle imbalance, upper eyelid aesthetics, lateral temporal laxity, and an abnormal expression, as a newly defined group, may actually be more frequent reasons than brow ptosis alone for performing a forehead-brow rhytidoplasty. As evaluated by the authors and supported by independent reviewers, low brow position alone should now account for less than half the forehead-brow surgery candidates.

Furthermore, it is recognized that in considering the benefits achieved for patients with brow ptosis, often the results were due to “ancillary” surgical maneuvers routinely employed for the secondary indications. On balance, surgeons are advised to avoid adhering to traditional formulas for skin excision/brow elevation when operating on the brow; these can ultimately be the source of unsatisfactory outcomes. We believe that this philosophy will ultimately account for improved outcomes in forehead surgery.

In addition, objective guidelines for the upper face have been reviewed and visual criteria defined which can be used in supplementing established brow spatial relationships for determining the ideal normal criteria for the upper third of the face. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 93: 1378, 1994.)

©1994American Society of Plastic Surgeons