My experience getting a trichophytic brow lift and blepharoplasty.
Standing Appointment is our review series that investigates the best new and notable cosmetic procedures in the aesthetics space and determines whether or not they are worth trying for yourself. This week, our writer gets eyelid surgery, aka a blepharoplasty, and a trichophytic brow lift.
For as long as I can remember, the joke was I’d be the first of my friends to get plastic surgery. I was the first to microblade my brows (and then laminate them at home), Botox my forehead into an ice rink, straighten my hair with Magic Sleek, and laser my hair away. I’m not a beauty obsessive (although I am a former Allure beauty editor). I’m just picky, I hate upkeep, and my aesthetic is very consistent. How we look affects how we act, and I want to feel casually polished. High-maintenance to be low-maintenance, essentially.
I chose to get an eyelid lift, brow lift, and hairline advancement because I was tired of looking, well, tired. My eyelids have always been heavy and asymmetric, but when I turned 28, things started to fall and my reflection felt increasingly distant. I wanted my outside to reflect how I felt inside: light, vibrant, and present. Not snatched, just me on my very best day.
Listen. We’re all chasing the same outcome: looking how we want. Coloring one’s hair is a choice that comes from the same place. Why is it acceptable to get filler and spend thousands over the years, but surgery for a better, permanent outcome and less money overall is stigmatized? (Especially when interest in eye lifts has increased by 65% since 2020, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery and Reconstructive Surgery.) Let me show you what cosmetic surgery is actually like. Trigger warning: stitches, bruises, and strong opinions ahead.
How I Chose My Plastic Surgeon
Like a good Virgo, I capital-P Prepared. I gathered photos of what I liked and didn’t like, pictures of my parents at different ages, and made a video speaking to the camera from different angles. Then, I made a document with questions for consultation. Last, I researched doctors, mostly on Reddit.
I wanted a doctor who prioritized facial harmony, and who integrated mental health into our process. It took eight consultations, but finally through Arielle Lorre, I found Dr. Miguel Mascaró of 5th Avenue Plastic Surgery near Miami. He was what I’d been looking for: he’d studied neurobiology and spoke about surgery like jazz.
About my consultation process
In our consultation, Dr. Mascaró analyzed factors that would influence my outcome, like bone structure, volume and fat floss, and skin laxity. He was the only doctor who asked about my overall aesthetic and mental health.
“It’s so important to look for the motivation behind the procedure,” Dr. Mascaró explained. “It can lead you in a different direction when it comes to figuring out exactly what someone wants. My job is to understand the mentality of what ‘good’ looks like in their mind and why, while looking at the composition of the whole face and understanding how it will evolve over time.”
Because I was flying to Florida solo, his team helped me book aftercare support. I discovered an if-you-know-you-know network of specialists, like Vanessa Bermudez, a lymphatic drainage masseuse, and Compassionate Care, at-home health aides specializing in cosmetic surgery post-op run by Nadia O’Brien — so discreet they don’t have a website and only take direct referrals.
How I Chose This Surgery
Until I spoke with Dr. Mascaró, I didn’t understand the benefit of bundling small procedures. He explained an upper blepharoplasty by itself would pull my brows down further. He recommended a trichophytic brow lift which would keep my eyes open and advance my hairline.
“Almost every brow lift will make the forehead bigger, so we have to address proportions,” Dr. Mascaró explained. “The way our brains understand attractiveness is in balance, not just one feature.” Indeed, we find symmetry pretty sexy. He explained how our brains see three facial sections: hairline to brows; brows to underneath the nose; then nose to chin. “If we only addressed your eyelids, they’d look great alone but could throw your proportions out of whack. A hairline advancement is one of my absolute favorite procedures because it has such an incredible impact on face dynamics without changing much.”
Who’s An Ideal Candidate?
Generally, the ideal candidate is an adult with excess eyelid skin, brow heaviness, and a large forehead. Eye surgery patients have gotten younger, too. In a recent study titled "A Pandemic of Dysmorphia", doctors said 85% of patients cited seeing themselves on Zoom — not Instagram — as the main motivation to explore cosmetic changes.
What Did This Surgery Cost?
I paid $10,000: $8,000 for surgery, and $2,000 for pre-op blood work, anesthesia, medication, hotel and nurse. I did some math: In 30 years, this will have cost me $0.91 a day. Given the “permanence” and my confidence, that’s more than a fair deal — that’s compounding return.
All about the finances
My two cents: If your finances are preventing you from seeing the best doctor you can, keep saving. It can wait; this is your face.
What Actually Happens During Surgery?
Just before, Dr. Mascaró made final markings while I sat up facing natural light, turning and nodding my head. “I’m a fancy makeup artist, but instead of makeup, I’m playing with soft tissue and light. I need to see where to put shadows and highlights,” he explained.
We stayed conservative on the brow lift, but I had significant eyelid hooding to remove.
My nerves didn’t kick in until I was on the operating table with my anesthesiologist. Before he administered Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC) with IV sedation, the last thing I remember is saying, “I hate anesthesia, so let’s just do it.”
Dr. Mascaró began with my blepharoplasty in three steps: trimming skin, creating volume by transposing fat in my eye’s inner corners, then recreating the crease. He first sewed the muscle underneath to recreate contour and then the skin on top.
Then he made a 3” incision along my hairline so he could surgically separate my skin from the deeper tissue subcutaneous tissue. To access and move the ligaments that position my brows, he decided to use an endoscope, a very thin, flexible tube with an attached camera. “You wanted to be really conservative with your brow lift, so it was super-important to address your brow’s middle and sides proportionally. An endoscope let me keep those movements as small as possible.”
As the last step, Dr. Mascaró moved my scalp tissue forward to reattach it, almost like an anchor. Then, he removed the 3mm of forehead skin and sewed a chain-like stitch through my new hairline.
What Is Immediate Recovery Like?
I woke up in the recovery room feeling very happy and very loopy from the anesthesia. My entire head was wrapped in a bandage to protect my hairline and in-scalp incisions, and I was absolutely not prepared to see that in the mirror. I looked way worse than I felt!
My nurse Meliza Jimenez drove us to my hotel, where she taught me how to care for myself: ice eyes every hour, apply Refresh Lacri-Lube or Bacitracin Antibiotic Ointment to incisions every hour (literally), and sit and sleep on my back, a little upright. The elevation reduces swelling, which gives your body more energy for healing — closing incisions, fusing nerves back together.
We ordered lunch and listened to episodes of Catfish. I was surprised how at ease I felt, but I now know the importance of a nurse with a speciality in cosmetic surgery aftercare. “We know how things heal and can sort of see the future for you and reassure you,” Jimenez said. “But it’s a special and private time emotionally. Recently, a patient who just got divorced needed to get a lot of things out and needed me to listen.”
The First Two Weeks of Recovery
What most people wanted to know: It took 18 days to be completely “back to normal” looks-wise, but I was socializing and at meetings in-person within six days. But the bruising did get worse before it got better. Here’s how things went for the first week.
Back in Dr. Mascaró’s office the next morning, my head wrap was removed and my hair was washed. I’d decided to fly home that day. I wasn’t in pain, so I didn’t realize how badly and urgently my body needed rest to repair.
As my swelling went down, my bruises became more intense. I wish I’d taken that week off work. Being “on” and leading meetings left my introverted self feeling more mentally spent than usual. I hate being camera-off for meetings, but…
The bruises arrived slowly, and then all at once. Forever a beauty editor, I usually wear hats when I’m outside, but it’s especially important to minimize sun exposure after surgery, as it can exacerbate scarring.
Strenuous exercise was a no-go, and daily walks were practically prescribed. Motion gets blood flowing, which means faster healing. The hour morning walk ritual stuck; it’s still how I begin every day.
I slept for 14 hours. My Whoop fitness tracker rewarded me with a 98% recovery.
Post-operative sleep is extra-important but can be unfairly elusive. My personal sleep stack: Loftie alarm clock and white noise machine, a silk pillowcase, an amber book light. Get those phones outta my bedroom!
My bruises began to yellow — a sign of my body breaking them down and healing — and I returned to my normal skin care routine, courtesy of dermatologist Dr. Robyn Gymrek of UnionDerm.
- Cleanser: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser with Ceramides with a baby washcloth
- Hydration: The INKEY List Hyaluronic Acid
- Moisture barrier repair: Sebamed 5% Urea, found In Reddit’s r/skincareaddiction
- Rosacea treatment: a custom formulation of niacinamide and azelaic acid from Skin Medicinals, created by Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali (who most recently formulated Hailey Bieber’s Rhode line)
- Moisturizer: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
- At night: Tretinoin. In the morning, EltaMD Broad-Spectrum SPF 46. (I’ve started reapplying sunscreen multiple times a day, and while it’s not cheap, neither is skin cancer treatment or Fraxel.)
Stitches and staples removal. I saw Dr. Liz Floyd In New York, who had some of the same fellowship training as Dr. Mascaró.
That evening, I had a client meeting I could not miss, but how lucky am I: it was the wondrous Bobbi Brown and Jones Road team. The brand was exploding on Tiktok, and we saw a chance to capture Bobbi covering up my bruises with Jones Road’s Face Pencils.
Weeks 2 and 3:
My bruises were gone, and my hairline scar was fading. Dr. Mascaró’s post-op incisions are, for those who research and know surgeons, like having a tattoo from Bang Bang, and I’m only slightly kidding. His eye (and lip) sutures and incisions are so recognizable, someone responded to my Instagram Stories asking if I had gone to “Miguel.”
How I’m Feeling Now
I’m very glad I did this. My results keep getting better, though I can’t quite put my finger on why. It’s a common remark, Dr. Mascaró says, as tissue settles.
A friend who’s a parent called this my “fourth trimester,” a nod to the physical and emotional adjustment “after” period. She wasn’t comparing parenthood to surgery, but she had a point: “You’re getting so many opinions while you’re getting used to this new thing yourself.” I’m not sure why people have a hard time with something that doesn’t affect them at all.
I hadn’t planned to so openly share my experience, essentially a confession of vanity. Writer Michelle Santiago Cortés articulates my initial dissonance: “You out yourself as an unevolved feminist.” You also out yourself as someone who’s confident enough to talk about it and take a little heat.
I hosted a dinner at my favorite restaurant recently, and the manager I’ve known for years said, “You are looking well.” (The cashmere sweater of compliments, which I will now be using.) I mentioned the make-under I’ve been on this year: a calming down, a less-but-better, in life and looks. And, I added, it included “some light plastic surgery.” He said, “well, when you feel good, you look good.” Nothing radical. Just me on my very best day.