As we age, our skin loses volume and elasticity which causes the skin to sag and wrinkle. A thread lift, also known as a stitch lift or suture lift, is a non-surgical alternative to a surgical face lift requiring less downtime, discomfort and risk. A thread lift involves specialised suture material to lift the skin of the face and neck to achieve a more youthful appearance.
The thread lift technique is quite a new practice but has been developed by a number of leading cosmetic surgeons who were dedicated to finding a less-invasive option to a full surgical face lift. The suture material is placed in the subcutaneous fat just beneath the skin and will achieve a natural, youthful lift.
The key difference between a thread lift and a surgical face lift is a softer, more natural look due to the threads lifting the skin to their previous position. Thread lifts do not involve large incisions or removal of excess skin, which can often result in drastic facial changes. Small, unobtrusive incisions are made behind the ear and in the hair line and the skin is lifted by the anchor of the thread. The overall look is significant, but subtle.
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A thread lift procedure can be performed without sedation, however some patients may request it if they would rather not experience the procedure. The first step is to determine the areas to be treated and the direction of the lift required. Your cosmetic physician will work with you to find the most natural and rejuvenated end result.
Once the directions and areas are marked, the patient will receive a local anaesthetic to numb the area where the threads will be placed. Anaesthetic also acts to constrict the blood vessels in the skin which can reduce the chance of bruising.
Depending which area is being treated, the threads will be inserted through the hairline or behind the ear, towards the area to be rejuvenated. This is done using a long needle and once complete, the thread will be pulled backwards towards the hairline to achieve the lift.
What results can I expect to see?
The results from threads are generally subtle, and should not be equated to the results of a surgical face lift.
The expected degree of lift will depend on a number of factors, including;
- pre-existing degree of skin laxity
- skin thickness
- area treated
- the number of threads used
How long will the threads last?
Thread lifts induce a long term lift in the skin. The tightening and lift achieved is, however, under the constant influence of gravity, and as a result, the tissues will tend to fall back towards their previous position over time. To continue to receive the benefits, a thread lift may need to be repeated every 2-3 years as required.
What are the common side effects with having a thread lift?
It is common to experience mild swelling and bruising which may take up to a week to disappear. The recovery period should only be mildly uncomfortable; the ears will be sore and cheeks will feel tight and you may experience some pain while chewing for up to 3 weeks. Soft food and oral analgesics are suggested during this time.
Infection and complications can occur but are rare, particularly as the procedure is completed in a sterile environment by a cosmetic physician.
The incision scars are very small and virtually impossible to detect under casual observation.
Who is suitable for a thread lift?
Thread lifts are for those who would like to have a lift or tightening of the skin without having to go under the knife. It may be for those who;
- want to delay surgery until it is warranted, and do something to lift their skin in the meantime
- for those who never want to have surgery
- for younger patients who do not have enough skin laxity to justify surgery
- and for those who are unfit for surgery.
To be suitable there must be evidence of sagging soft tissues of the face under the influence of gravity with ageing. Contrary to common belief, this can start at quite an early age.