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Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about hairline lowering surgery

Considering hairline lowering surgery? Let's dive into the nitty-gritty about the procedure.

Written by
Imogen Kars
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
April 11, 2024
min read
Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about hairline lowering surgery
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Whether you're looking to get hairline lowering surgery, you've never heard of it before or you sit somewhere in between, we're here to help you learn more about the forehead reduction procedure.

One of the most common complaints for ageing men is a high forehead, triggered by hair loss.

With male pattern balding, hair loss is attributed to the natural hairline moving upward across the scalp. If hair loss is not treated promptly, it can result in a receding hairline or baldness.

Medical interventions like forehead reduction surgery can sometimes provide men experiencing hair loss the opportunity to lower their hairline through an innovative surgical procedure.

Today we're going to dive into all the details that you need to know when it comes to hairline lowering surgery, including whether the correct choice for you, how it can affect your facial features and what the healing process entails. Here we go.

What is hairline lowering or forehead reduction surgery?

Hairline lowering surgery is usually considered by people who feel their foreheads are oversized [1]. It involves transplanting hair follicles in order to lower the hairline and make one's forehead look smaller.

Whether this is an acquired feeling through ageing and hair loss, or it has been a lifelong issue, forehead reduction surgery can help restore balance to the face by making the hairline lower and therefore more aesthetically pleasing.

This process can take anywhere from an hour to a couple of hours, depending on your surgeon and you'll be given either local or general anaesthesia before the procedure.

From here, the surgeon uses a surgical marker to draw where the new hairline begins as well as along the hairline, where they need to make an incision line.

Cutting slowly and carefully along the hairline is important to avoid damaging any hair follicles or nerves and this is why a clear line to follow is needed.

Once the surgeon has made the incisions along the hairline and across the area of the forehead that is being removed, they will detach any connective tissue that connects to the head and dispose of the excess forehead skin.

From here, the hair-bearing scalp is pulled down to meet the incision line, which leaves a smaller surface area of the forehead and is stitched up or held together by surgical clips.

Finally, the incision is covered with a surgical dressing and your forehead reduction surgery is complete.

Sometimes, if your scalp laxity isn't great, a tissue expander can be placed under the scalp.

Over 6 weeks or so the tissue expander will slowly stretch the skin, providing you with a larger forehead over time.

After that, the surgeon will remove the expander and complete your hairline lowering surgery.

Who is hairline lowering surgery for?

While men are more likely to experience hair loss and a receding hairline, women are usually the best candidates for forehead reduction surgery.

According to a study from 2020, the best candidates for hairline lowering surgery have a high hairline, good scalp laxity and a "stable frontal hairline", which means minimal hair loss [2].

Women usually tick these boxes a little more easily, thanks to the requirement of needing a stable hairline that is largely unaffected by hair loss, but forehead reduction surgery is still an option for a lot of men.

It's important to note that if a man who has undergone hairline lowering experiences future hair loss, the surgery site is at risk of becoming more visible, which might not be the look you're after.

It is also recommended that a forehead reduction procedure is best performed on people who were born with a high hairline, versus those whose hairline changed due to male pattern balding and ageing.

Generally speaking, many male patients who opt for a forehead reduction are usually older in age with no family history of hair loss.

While hairline lowering is available to men experiencing male pattern baldness, the results can differ from what you're looking for and may not be the best option for you.

And, when you take into consideration the surgery cost and recovery period, seeking out a less invasive option is probably preferable.

This is why Pilot exists — to make it easier to access hair loss treatment no matter where you live. Simply complete an online assessment and one of our Australian doctors will create a personalised hair loss treatment plan just for you.

All consultations are text-based and your medications are delivered to your home in discreet packaging. It's that easy!

How much does a hairline lowering procedure cost?

The cost of hairline lowering depends on where the procedure takes place and the surgeon who performs it, but you're usually looking at around $10,000 to start off with.

This price usually doesn't involve the cost of the anaesthetist or factor in a hospital stay if that's needed, so beware of hidden costs.

Overall, it's safe to say that it's a pretty costly process.

What is recovery after hairline reduction surgery like?

Like most procedures, recovery and the healing process of hairline lowering vary from person to person but in general, it has a fairly low incidence of complications [3].

While many people don't find forehead reduction surgery painful, you can expect mild soreness and bruising around the area as well as swelling the day after.

Most people who undergo the hairline lowering operation can resume their normal activities the very next day, but it's also very common for patients to take a week or so off work to ensure the healing goes to plan.

Experts who perform the surgery are adamant that recovery from hairline surgery is quite easy.

Within a month, the scar tissue will see new hair growth, giving you the green light that your hairline lowering has been successful.

Regardless of what you read on the internet, your healthcare provider will give you an in-depth plan for your recovery and what you can expect.

Recovery recommendations for hairline lowering can include:

  • Taking time off work or school
  • Avoiding strenuous activities for at least one week
  • Using pain medication for any discomfort or pain
  • Keeping your head elevated to reduce mild soreness
  • Making sure the incision is kept clean

After the forehead reduction procedure, a light dressing is applied and usually removed the next day.

Sutures or stitches can be removed (or some may disintegrate), but your healthcare provider will help you with this.

Roughly 6 months after your hairline lowering and forehead reduction surgery, the incision site and the scar tissue surrounding it will heal and fade.

The good news is that most patients find they can hide their healing incision by styling their hair or wearing a bandana, even during the healing process.

Some patients can even wear their hair pulled back a few weeks after the hairline lowering procedure if the healing stage is going well.

Will it leave a visible forehead reduction scar from surgery?

Hairline lowering procedures will often leave a visible scar but in a lot of cases, the scar is coverable.

Hair follicles exist under the incision line, so your hair will naturally grow in front of it and hide the scars within a reasonable period of time.

There are a lot of factors that affect the visibility of the scar including the colour and texture of your skin, the surgeon's technique and the precautions taken after surgery.

It's best to talk to your surgeon about scaring and ways to make it as minimal as possible.

What are some of the benefits of hairline lowering surgery?

As with every surgery, hairline lowering surgery comes with a few risks — but the wide range of advantages makes it worth looking into.

First on the list is that the results are immediate and permanent.

Unless you are a man who experiences future hair loss, a hairline lowering procedure is a good bet if you're looking for long-lasting results.

Another great advantage is that eliminating excess skin on the forehead creates the illusion of a denser hairline.

It's important to note that the procedure doesn't change your existing hair texture, but annoying quirks like cowlicks or widow's peaks can be cut out, improving your hairline.

The last major benefit is that undergoing hairline lowering surgery can make a world of a difference for patients with hair-related self-confidence issues.

What are the downsides?

While most of the time, the risks involved with forehead reduction surgery are rare, it's important to know what you're getting into before you go under the knife.

For starters, patients can be left with visible scar tissue along their new hairline.

Usually, when this happens, it's a signal that the hairline lowering has not been performed properly. When all goes to plan, hair should begin to grow through the incision to cover it.

If this doesn't happen and you're unhappy with how your forehead reduction surgery has turned out, you might want to consider exploring your options with hair transplants or hair grafting.

Another downside to the forehead reduction procedure is that only those with high hairlines and large foreheads can be reduced — there's not a quick fix for wide foreheads.

However, hair transplants can sometimes help with this issue, so it's worth looking into.

Two of the rare risks when it comes to a surgical procedure like this include temporary numbness across the incision line or post-operation hair loss.

Experts note that temporary numbness will usually fade within 4-6 months as the nerves regrow [2].

While both are not common, it's important to know the facts before you dive into a procedure like this.

And, the price should also be highlighted here, with $10,000 as the entry-level cost for forehead reduction, which isn't budget-friendly for a lot of people.

What are other treatment options?

Hairline lowering surgery is considered an alternative to hair transplant surgery, which also helps to improve one's hairline.

While the former works by stretching the forehead skin, hair transplant surgery involves transplanting healthy hair follicles to problem areas on the scalp or other body parts, to encourage thicker hair.

Hair transplants also require a day surgery-style procedure but one that only requires a local anesthetic.

There are two different techniques that exist for hair transplant: Follicle Unit Transfer (FUT) and Follicle Unit Extraction (FUE).

For those seeking to avoid mild soreness or significant pain after the procedure, FUE is recommended as it is less invasive and doesn't often cause an irregular scar.

Unfortunately, hair transplants, like hairline lowering, are also a costly exercise with many transplant procedures costing between AU$11,000 to Au$18,000.

Depending on the severity of your hair loss, a hair transplant can cost up to AU$30,000. While this procedure is often effective, it's not accessible for many.

Pilot, on the other hand, offers hair loss treatment that starts at $1.77 per day for a personalised capsule that has been designed by one of our Australian doctors to target your individual hair loss.

Depending on your particular situation, you may be recommended an oral medication that sees about 2 in 3 men experience regrowth over time, while the second option is a topical treatment that helps delay further balding.

You can do the online assessment now and see whether or not you are eligible for the above treatments. What are you waiting for?

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

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