Last Updated: May 11, 2011
Often referred to as the “lunchtime facelift”, a thread lift is a less costly and less invasive alternative to a conventional facelift. It is suitable for people ages 35-45 who just want a small lift with minimal downtime. During the aging process, we lose facial fat and the support structures of our jowls, eyes and neck begin to weaken. A thread lift helps reduce this sagging appearance with a series of barbed sutures (known as threads) that lift drooping eyebrows and eyelids, minimize prominent naso-labial folds and tighten aging neck tissues. The procedure requires no incisions or stitches, thus the recovery time is quick. During a thread lift, a needle is used to insert sutures under the facial tissues. One side of the thread is lined with barbs which grip and lift the sagging skin while the other side has small “teeth” that help anchor the skin to the underlying facial tissues.
There are two types of thread lift procedures currently available: the Contour Thread lift and the Feather Lift, otherwise known as the Aptos Thread lift. Although very similar, the primary difference between the two lies in the design. Contour Threads are fixed in the area of initial access and only go one direction, whereas Aptos threads are bi-directional. Clear polypropylene, the material utilized in Contour Thread Lifts, has been used in other medical applications for many years. The threads have umbrella-like barbs that allow surgeons to lift and suspend a relaxed facial area. The Aptos thread is characterized by barbs along the entire length which are used to gather tissue and lift muscle and sagging skin.
The procedure is relatively new to the world of plastic surgery, so long-term complications are still unknown. As techniques and materials develop, results continually improve. One risk of the procedure is a lack of visible results. This can be remedied with a conventional facelift, brow lift or neck lift. Some patients with extremely thin skin have noted that the threads became visible under the skin after the procedure. Other risks, although rare, include a temporary numbness in the treated area, or infection which can be treated with antibiotics.
Frequently performed on an outpatient basis, thread lifts are minimally invasive and do not require general anesthesia. Under local anesthesia (in combination with an anti-anxiety drug), patients can remain awake during the procedure and even give feedback as the surgeon pulls the threads back.