Definition & Overview

A thread lift is a popular cosmetic procedure known in aesthetic medicine as the "lunch hour facelift" and under brand names such as Happy Lift, Contour or Silhouette Lift. Performed in as short as an hour with less pain and minimal recovery time compared to a traditional facelift, it is a relatively simple procedure that instantly creates a more youthful look.

Thread lift, which offers longer lasting results when compared to Botox and dermal fillers, involves the use of a special, implantable surgical thread that lifts sagging skin on the forehead, eyebrows, mid-face, and the neck. It can also be done on eye corners, laugh lines, forearm, and even the abdomen.

In thread lift, a tiny notch is made behind the hairline or behind the ears. Afterwards, fine threads or sutures are placed in strategic pre-planned areas marked along the contours. These threads have fine filaments such that they attach to the tissue and can be easily smoothened to create a natural look. When the body naturally produces new skin cells, they will surround the filament in the threads to create a subtle, yet very effective lift.

Thread lifts offer many benefits including the following:

  • Rejuvenates and makes skin look more rested and firm
  • Allows a more defined facial contour
  • Achieves a youthful look without scarring and the need for general anesthesia
  • A more affordable option or alternative to a full facelift
  • A quick and effective solution for a wide range of aging problems

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

Aging causes the tissues in the skin to thin down because of the diminished production and breaking down of collagen and elastin that make the skin firm. Along with the loss in bone density, muscle mass, and fat cells, these result in the appearance of wrinkles, sagging, creases, and folds in the skin. A thread lift can reverse the effect of aging by pulling up loose skin without surgical complications.

The procedure is known to offer optimum results in women who are between the ages of 25 and 45 and is most effective in removing wrinkles in those who are experiencing early signs of aging. Older women in their late 50's and 60's can also undergo the procedure to reduce sagging and wrinkles.

While thread lift can lessen signs of aging, it is not meant to replace or replicate the effects of a surgical facelift. The effects of thread lift can last one to up to several years, depending on a patient's physiological condition and lifestyle. Repeated treatments usually achieve better and longer-lasting results.

How is the Procedure Performed?

After careful pre-planning and the application of local anesthesia, the surgeon will begin by inserting a thick, hollow needle into the facial skin, targeting underlying fat layer. One end of the thread is carefully tied to firmer underlying internal structures while the other end goes underneath the skin.

As the surgeon withdraws the needle, the filaments on the sutures are deposited into the sagging parts of the face. The surgeon then tugs on the thread to elevate droopy skin and sets it into a more youthful-looking position. The procedure is very simple that it can be done in just an hour or less.

Possible Risks and Complications

When performed by a licensed and experienced cosmetic surgeon, the procedure is very safe. However, minor side effects may arise including subtle bruising, muscle weakness, and swelling in the affected area, which usually resolve on their own within a week. Also, just like any cosmetic surgical procedure, there is a possibility of risks and complications. Among them are:

  • Infection - A common complication of any surgery, this occurs when the threaded areas are infected. This is easily treated with antibiotics.
  • Nerve injuries - In rare instances, patients may experience numbness in the treated area due to nerve injuries
  • Migration of sutures - In some cases, sutures become visible or protrude out of the skin after surgery. The surgeon can easily correct rare complications like this. It is important for patients not to try to remove any loosened threads as it can lead to unwanted damage or even infection.
  • Scarring, hair loss, dimpling of the skin, and contour irregularities –These are minor risks that are usually avoided if the procedure is performed by an experienced and licensed practitioner.

    References:

  • Heinrichs, HL; Kaidi, AA (September 1998). "Subperiosteal facelift: a 200-case, 4-year review.". Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 102 (3): 843–55.

  • Liu, TS; Owsley, JQ (January 2012). "Long-term results of face lift surgery: patient photographs compared with patient satisfaction ratings.". Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 129

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