- Insider talked to plastic surgeon Gal Aharonov about his forehead reduction technique.
- Aharonov makes an incision along the entire hairline, lifts the scalp and sutures it closer to the face.
- The surgeon said costs start at about $15,000, and patients travel from all over the world to see him.
A few months ago, plastic surgeon Gal Aharonov took on a new patient: a woman in her early thirties, desperate for a procedure to shrink her forehead.
Aharonov, a licensed facial plastic and cosmetic surgeon with a practice in Beverly Hills, is the pioneer of cosmetic surgery that lowers the hairline on the forehead. The complicated surgery, which involves lifting the entire scalp off the head, aims to reduce the size of genetically large foreheads.
Within two weeks of performing forehead-lowering surgery on the woman, her husband told Aharonov that she went from an introvert who rarely went outside to one who is constantly meeting friends and family and “doing things she’s never done before.” done’.
“He said, ‘You have no idea how different my wife has been since the surgery,'” Aharonov said in an interview with Insider. “‘You changed her life.'”
To shed more light on his new approach, Aharonov showed Insider how he performs forehead reduction surgery, what the main risks are, and who’s a good candidate.
A plastic surgeon pioneered a new way to shrink someone’s forehead.
Candidates for forehead reduction are people born with a larger forehead than they would like, not people with receding hairlines.
While treatments for male and female pattern baldness exist, Aharonov said there aren’t many ways to put hair in places on the head where hair never grew in the first place, and he said he hadn’t learned how to do it in school. to lower. the hairline. “There weren’t really many people doing anything about this issue,” he said.
An alternative technique is to place a balloon under the scalp and inflate it for 2 to 3 months, which expands the scalp tissue. Surgeons go back a second time, remove the balloon, and then sew the newly stretched scalp further down the forehead.
Aharonov said the ballooning technique has “a lot of problems,” such as stretching and separating hair follicles, giving the appearance of thinning hair. The technique is also more time-consuming for patients, requiring two surgeries and sometimes multiple follow-ups for doctors to assess how the scalp is stretching.
Aharonov began exploring other options, and in 2008 he said he was pioneering a new technique that involved one surgery, not two. The operation works as follows:
- An incision is made just outside the hairline.
- The entire scalp is lifted off the skull.
- The scalp is then “slided” to the desired location of the hairline, which is determined by both the patient and doctor prior to the procedure.
- Stitches are then used to connect the hairline to the skin of the forehead, excess skin is cut off.
“What you get is a normal scalp and normal hair density, just now in a lower position,” he said. The largest reduction Aharonov performed was 2.5 inches, but most patients get about 1 to 1.5 inches reduced.
The cost of the procedure can vary, but usually starts at $15,000, Aharonov said, and includes consultation, operating room and anesthesia costs.
Patients are left with a large scar at their hairline.
The biggest risk to the surgery is “shock hair loss”, where the stress of the procedure causes hair loss for several months. Aharonov also said he had to redo botched forehead reduction surgeries performed by other doctors who tried to copy his technique.
The biggest trade-off for forehead reduction surgery, Aharonov said, is the long scar that forms the length of the hairline, just below where the hair grows. Still, Aharonov said most patients prefer to deal with the scar, which can be masked once the hairline grows out, rather than a bigger forehead.
The procedure is far from a quick fix. Aharonov said it takes about six months for patients to heal, and a year for the scar to settle and the hairline to look natural.
The best candidates for the surgery are people with thick, coarse hair, which can better hide the scar, and with good “scalp mobility” or skin pliability, which Aharonov assesses during a visit to the practice. He said his patients retain normal forehead mobility, but the scalp will feel tight for a few months after the procedure.
Many of Aharonov’s patients have dealt with the insecurity since they were children, so they travel far and wide to see him.
Although Aharonov pioneered this particular scalp lowering surgery, the doctor said he had no personal relationship with anyone with a larger than average forehead, and he didn’t know it was an insecurity for so many people.
But after 15 years of performing hairline-lowering surgery, Aharonov said the issue has become more personal. He said many patients come to him deeply self-consciously and are bullied for their appearance since they were children.
Aharonov said most of his patients don’t live in Southern California, but travel from across the country and parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Australia. Aharonov’s patients are usually under the age of 30, although he has had patients in their 70s come in for surgery.
“It’s not like other plastic surgery operations where you take someone and maybe make them more beautiful,” he said. “This is different because you’re taking a deep-rooted insecurity that a lot of people have had since they were little kids. It’s very satisfying compared to, say, just doing a facelift.”
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