Thread lifts emerged because many people — perhaps you — would like a facelift, but can't afford it or don't want the long recovery time of the standard facelift. Thread lifts cost less and require less downtime for many people.
Some plastic surgeons promote the thread lift as a "lunchtime lift" or "weekend facelift." Usually it can be performed in about one hour.
Who Should Consider a Thread Lift?
As we age, our facial support structure weakens, and we lose facial fat. The affected areas generally include the cheeks, the eyebrows and other areas around the eyes, the jowls and the neck. The result is a longer, older-looking face.
Younger people may experience cheek and brow ptosis (sagging caused by weakened muscles) as well. For these people especially, a thread lift may be a good alternative to the more invasive procedures necessary to correct problems in older people's faces.
Ideal candidates for thread lifts include people with minimal signs of aging who need just a small lift. Most people who undergo thread lifts are women between 35 and 45. They choose a thread lift because they have begun to see more prominence of the jaw, a relaxed (or minimally sagging) mid-facial appearance or slight bags under the eyes or on the neck. Older people may undergo a thread lift during the more aggressive facelift procedure to provide additional support for the soft tissue area that was elevated in the facelift.
Thread Lift Basics
In a thread lift, barbed sutures (threads) are used to lift sagging eyebrows and eyelids, deep nasolabial folds (those furrows between your nose and the corners of your mouth) or aging neck tissues. Your surgeon would use a thin needle to insert the sutures under the facial tissues. The barbs on one end of the thread grab and lift the sagging skin, and the teeth on the other end anchor the skin to the underlying facial tissues. No incisions or stitches are required, and no scars are produced. Additionally, barbed sutures can be used as an adjunct to a more traditional facelift.
The Thread Lift Procedure
Your surgeon may instruct you not to eat or drink after midnight before the thread lift. He or she may prescribe an antibiotic to take beforehand and tell you to cease taking certain other medications.
During the procedure, your surgeon will make small incisions in key locations and insert a threaded needle to lift the subcutaneous tissue and suspend the lift with the thread. The barbs on these threads will lock in place and encourage collagen formation upon insertion to lift very specific areas.
Thread lifts is performed in a few hours and you can go back home when finished. Because the procedure is minimally invasive, general anesthesia is not required, so you can remain awake. One benefit is that the plastic surgeon can give you a mirror as the thread is pulled back, allowing you to give feedback. Usually an oral antianxiety medication, along with local anesthesia, is all that is required. Most people tolerate this well.
Thread Lift Recovery
Your surgeon will provide complete postoperative instructions that you must follow to reduce the risk of complications during recovery. These instructions may include an escort to drive you home and assist with daily activities for at least 24 hours, as well as diet restrictions (soft foods) for seven days. Pain can be managed with oral medications such as acetaminophen. Ibuprofen is avoided to limit bruising. Your surgeon may recommend elevating your head to reduce swelling for the first day.
The day following the procedure, you can resume non strenuous activities, and all normal activities can usually be resumed within seven days. You probably won't be comfortable in social situations for up to one week, three weeks for weddings, reunions and other formal occasions.
Risks and Complications
You may experience a lack of sensitivity or numbness in the treated area, which usually subsides within weeks of the procedure.
Infection in the treatment area is an infrequent complication. If an infection develops, your surgeon will treat it with antibiotics. Rarely, an infection may require surgical drainage. Scar tissue formation is also possible. Some surgeons have noted rare migration of the sutures, causing an unbalanced facial appearance. With this, or if the thread may break, a simple reinsertion solves the problem.