The fox eye face lift has so many risks, warns Harley Street expert

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Vampire facelift? Old news. Thanks to celebrities and social media, the treatment everyone’s talking about right now is the fox eye lift.

Earning its name from the make-up trend which uses liner and shadow to visually “lift” the eye’s outer corner, the fox eye lift aims to create this look more permanently.

Medical threads are inserted under the skin to raise the eyebrows and corner of the eyes upwards so that the tail of the eyebrow is angled instead of arched. This makes the eyes look almond shaped, like a fox.

The fox eye look is hugely popular on social media, becoming a defining facial feature of some influencers, whether through make-up or an actual eye lift. The ‘fox eye’ look of Bella Hadid, Megan Fox and Kendall Jenner is often cited as inspiration, and the tweakment itself is back in the news after Katie Price opted for it as part of her latest surgical makeover.

However, a word of caution. I’m not a fan of the fox eye lift, for several reasons. Many other practitioners are also critical, and in the UK there are now many clinics that refuse to carry out this treatment.

So why the controversy? Allow me to Iift the lid on what you should know about the procedure and the risks involved. If you still decide to go ahead with it, make sure you go to a CQC regulated clinic and an experienced doctor.

What happens during a fox eye lift?

It’s often touted as a “lunch time treatment” as it takes just 30 minutes to perform. Local anaesthetic is applied first and then, using a needle, a number of small biodegradable threads are inserted under the skin at the outer corners of the eyes. The threads are then pulled to lift the corner of the brows. This also reduces the size of the eyelids, creating an almond shaped "fox" eye.

Two types of threads are used during the procedure depending on the practitioner’s preference. These can be PDO (polydioxanone) threads, which are used in surgery for wound closure, or Silhouette Soft threads, made from collagen-stimulating polylactic acid sutures (PLA), which have small cones attached that hook under the skin for a lifting effect.

Both types of threads dissolve naturally over the following months. Downtime is fairly minimal but expect bruising and slight swelling for up to a fortnight. Results last anything from between a few weeks to nine months depending on age, skin laxity and the expertise of the doctor. A fox eye lift costs anything from £300 up to £1,200 depending on the experience of the practitioner and where you live.

So what are the risks?

Thread lifts are most often and successfully used for facial rejuvenation, and I believe this treatment can be an excellent and far less risky alternative to traditional facelift surgery.

However, inserting threads into the temple area and around the eyes is still relatively new so most experts believe more research and better techniques are needed.

Unlike other areas of the face, the skin around the brow and outer corner of the eye is already quite tight, while the brow area is quite bony, making the skin difficult to lift. In some patients scar tissue can encapsulate around the threads, which means they cannot be dissolved successfully. This can cause ripples and lumps under the skin.

In other patients, lifting the skin can often cause folding and puckering, as the skin has nowhere to go once it has been pulled up – unlike surgery when excess skin is excised. If the threads are not inserted correctly, there can be a loss of sensation in the area.

Another common risk is lopsided brows with one brow being lifted more than the other. Results can also be inconsistent and unpredictable. The treatment changes the shape of the brows and eyes and alters the natural contours of the face. This often raises the eyebrows too high, leaving the patient with a “Spock from Star Trek” look.

Even when patients get a result they are happy with it, it may last as little as a few weeks – expensive for something so fleeting.

Last but not least, the fox eye lift has been accused of cultural appropriation, with Western women seeking to adopt Asian features for themselves as a beauty trend.

What are the alternatives?

My preference would be to restore sagging eyes, lids and brows to their youthful shape, rather than significantly changing the shape of what you were born with. In some cases this can be achieved non-surgically through clever use of Botox, dermal fillers and Fibroblast Plasma treatment. However if you have severely hooded eyes or sagging brows then a surgical brow lift and upper lid blepharoplasty can be refined to suit you and achieve a permanent lift.

For more info on Lesley and her team of doctors click here.

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