Changes in eyebrow position and shape with aging

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2009 Oct;124(4):1296-1301. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181b455e8.


Background: Lack of an objective goal for brow-lift surgery may explain why several articles in the plastic surgery literature conclude that brow lifts produce eyebrows with shape and position that are not aesthetically pleasing. By comparing eyebrow shape and position in both young and mature women, this study provides objective data with which to plan forehead rejuvenating procedures.

Methods: Two cohorts of women aged 20 to 30 years and 50 to 60 years were photographed to determine eyebrow position. Measurements were made from a horizontal plane between the medial canthi to three points at the upper eyebrow margin. Exclusion criteria included prior surgery, plucked eyebrows, and botulinum toxin.

Results: The eyebrow in the 20- to 30-year-old group (n = 36) was 15.7, 19.8, and 21.3 mm above the medial canthus, pupil, and lateral canthus, respectively. Lateral brow position was significantly higher than the mid brow (p < 0.05). In the 50- to 60-year-old group (n = 34), the brow was 19.1, 22.4, and 22.4 mm above the medial canthus, pupil, and lateral canthus, respectively. At all three points, the brow was higher in older compared with younger subjects. This difference was significant at the medial and mid brow (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Unlike other areas of the body where there is descent of soft tissues, there is paradoxical elevation of eyebrows with aging. These findings explain why surgical elevation of the mid and medial brow provides results that are neither youthful nor aesthetically pleasing. Techniques that selectively elevate the lateral brow are more likely to have a rejuvenating effect on the upper third of the female face.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging*
  • Eyebrows / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult