TUESDAY, Sept. 18 (HealthDay News) -- A German survey finds that most patients who underwent a specific type of cosmetic procedure known as a brow or forehead lift said they'd definitely or probably undergo the surgery again when asked about it years later. Most also said they'd recommend it to others.
However, the survey of 98 patients also found that many needed weeks of recovery time, and almost one in seven expressed dissatisfaction with the procedure, saying they definitely or likely wouldn't recommend it to others.
The survey results, published in the September/October issue of Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, focus on an endoscopic approach to the forehead lift. Surgeons perform the procedure by repositioning the scalp and removing muscles that allow wrinkling in the forehead.
The cost varies from several thousand dollars to $10,000, but the procedure is still generally cheaper than a face lift, said Dr. Michael Olding, chief of plastic surgery at George Washington University School of Medicine, who was not involved with the study.
Another expert, Dr. Nitin Chauhan, a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon and otolaryngologist at the University of Toronto, said that compared to Botox injections, which reduce wrinkles by paralyzing muscles in the face, forehead lifts can provide more dramatic results and last longer. He called the surgical procedure "an ambitious task."
Forehead lifts aren't one of the most common plastic surgery procedures. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery estimates that 28,200 were performed in the United States in 2011, compared with more than 116,000 face lifts.
"Forehead lifts will usually last a lifetime. Although there is some settling of the brows in the early years, I have never had to repeat one of my brow lifts," Olding said. "Unfortunately, once someone has a brow lift and it is too high, it remains too high for a long time, a disaster in my opinion."
That's because a too-high brow lift causes a person to look surprised, he said.
For the new study, researchers Dr. Nikolaos Papadopulos and colleagues successfully surveyed 98 forehead lift patients from 143 total whose records were reviewed. They all underwent the procedures at University Hospital Rechts der Isar of the Munich Technical University, between 1994 and 2007.
All but 4 percent of the patients were women, and the women's average age was 60.
After an average follow-up time of just over three years, 63 percent of the patients said they'd definitely or likely have the procedure again, while 18 percent said they definitely or likely wouldn't. Eighteen percent said they might.
The percentages were similar when researchers asked patients if they'd recommend the procedure to others.
Of the 28 patients who said they worked, 16 said they needed recovery time away from work of three weeks or more; nine patients needed two weeks or less.
Olding, who's familiar with the study findings, said one number -- the 32 percent who said they weren't likely or certain to recommend the procedure -- is "a very high percentage for a cosmetic surgery procedure."
What's the take-home message of the research? "Don't think of this as a 'minor' procedure, because you may have to stay out of circulation greater than four to six weeks," Olding said. "And there are many patients who are not overly enthusiastic about the results."
Learn more about plastic surgery from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Michael Olding, M.D., chief, plastic surgery, George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington D.C.; Nitin Chauhan, M.D., facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon and otolaryngologist, University of Toronto; September/October 2012, Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery
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