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Non-Surgical Treatment Lifts Aging Eyebrows

A recent study led by researchers from the University of California San Francisco has unveiled a promising alternative to surgical treatment for drooping or aging eyebrows. Instead of surgery, the researchers found that a simple Botox injection, a protein derived from bacteria, can effectively address this cosmetic concern.

Corey Maas, MD, an associate professor of otolaryngology at UCSF and chief of the division of facial plastic surgery, emphasized the significance of this breakthrough: “This is the first study to introduce this technique and demonstrate eyebrow elevation through Botox treatment.”

He went on to explain the advantages of this non-surgical approach, stating, “This discovery provides an alternative to surgery for individuals worried about aging eyebrows. Unlike surgery, this procedure takes just five minutes, requires no anesthesia, and involves no recovery time.”

The study’s findings were presented by Maas and the UCSF research team at the annual meetings of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgery and the International Symposium of the American Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery.

Drooping eyebrows are a common consequence of both sun damage and the natural aging process. As time passes, the muscles surrounding the eyes gradually pull down on the eyebrows, causing them to sag. Maas pointed out, “The effects of this muscle pull begin in our youth but typically become noticeable in our 30s and 40s, becoming more pronounced in our 50s. Aging eyebrows can give people an unintentional appearance of anger, fatigue, or sadness, even when they don’t feel that way.”

In this study, Botox was used to weaken the muscle responsible for pulling down the outer part of the eyebrow. While Botox is toxic in high concentrations, it has been employed in diluted forms for medical purposes, including the treatment of crossed eyes in children and, more recently, for addressing facial wrinkles and frown lines.

The study involved 22 participants (17 women and 5 men), all seeking to elevate the height of their eyebrows. The researchers measured the height of the eyebrows on both eyes before and after the Botox injection. Measurements were taken from two specific points:

1. The vertical distance from the midpoint of the pupil to the lowest row of eyebrow hairs.
2. The vertical distance from the outer part of the eyelid to the lowest row of eyebrow hairs.

Patients were assessed two weeks after treatment and were followed for up to four months. The results demonstrated a significant increase in the height of the outer part of the eyebrow, averaging 4.83 mm. The elevation measured from the mid-pupil was, on average, 1.02 mm.

Furthermore, the study showed that Botox treatment led to minimal side effects. Five patients reported bruising, which resolved within seven days of the injection. Two patients experienced mild eyelid ptosis (drooping), but this effect lasted no longer than seven days after treatment.

One patient exhibited excessive eyebrow elevation seven days after treatment, which was corrected by administering Botox to the muscle above the overly elevated eyebrow.

Despite its effectiveness in addressing aging eyebrows, Botox is temporary and cannot replace surgery. As Maas noted, “Surgical results can last between 10 and 20 years, whereas Botox results typically last approximately three to six months.”