This is a confusing time for both patients when it comes to facelifts. There are so many to consider! Do I need a full facelift, a SMAS facelift, a “mini” facelift, an S-lift? What about the “weekend facelift”?
“Facelift” is a generic term today. The traditional full facelift involves incisions from the hairline, around the ear (front and back), and under the chin. These facelifts are done to rid the entire face and neck of excess fat and skin. Depending on how much skin, muscle and tissue is involved, recovery takes about 10 to 14 days and swelling and bumps may take six months to disappear.
Are you discouraged by wrinkled or sagging skin on your face? You want to do something but don’t want to spend a fortune or be out of circulation for weeks while you heal? Besides the traditional facelift, there are some innovative options available to help. One you may want to consider is the thread lift.
The thread lift, also known as the featherlift, ribbon lift, Aptos Lift, lunch hour facelift, Contour Thread Lift, Silhouette Lift, and suspension lift, was developed to improve the face by giving it a more youthful and attractive appearance. These variations of the thread lift were developed to offer patients a speedier alternative to the traditional face lift. It can typically be performed in less than one hour under local anesthesia in the doctor’s office, and recovery is shortened to 3 to 7 days.
The thread lift continues to be popular but there are some potential complications to consider and there is much debate about the long-term results.
How a thread lift is performed
Your skin will be scrubbed with a solution to makes sure it’s as free of bacteria as possible to prevent infection. Your doctor will measure and mark your face for placement of the threads. He/she will administer some type of local anesthetic to numb the area and then make tiny incisions in strategic locations.
In some variations of the thread lift, sutures with little barbs on them (that look like feathers) are threaded through the skin with a very long needle in precise locations. Then the thread is pulled, causing the barbs to open like a tiny umbrella and grab and lift the droopy sagging tissue around the brow, cheeks, face and neck. The threads are cut and knotted and will retract deep under the skin where they remain to provide support.
In other variations, the process is similar but there are no barbs. The thread is inserted, pulled through the skin to the other side of the area, and anchored in place. The threads are knotted, cut and inserted under the surface of the skin.
Normally each area would be taped to prevent thread movement for a few days. If the threads become dislodged, the results may not be as intended.
The thread lift promises to lift sagging skin for a more youthful appearance with little or no scarring.
Good candidates for a thread lift
If you are on a weight loss regimen, you should consider waiting until you meet your weight loss goals before deciding on a thread lift or any other type of face lift procedure.
The best candidates for thread lifting are:
- between age 30 and 60;
- those with good skin tone and thickness;
- those with minimal loose or drooping skin;
- in good physical and mental health;
- not prone to infections;
- not suffering from hemophilia or other blood clotting conditions;
- those with reasonable expectations.
Advantages of thread lift
As we age, skin begins to lose collagen and elastin, causing it to droop or sag. Thread lifts are designed to reduce this sagging skin along with wrinkles, fine lines and sun damage. They promise to stimulate collagen production and rejuvenate the look of your face.
The thread lift is a minimally invasive procedure so the risks and discomfort are lower than those of traditional facelifts. Scarring and discoloration are minimized and healing is much faster.
Thread lifts are not designed for patients with a substantial amount of loose sagging skin. Instead, they can be useful for those with subtle problems and early signs of aging.
Complications and side effects of thread lift
The thread lift is minimally invasive so the risk of complication is low, but every procedure has potential risks and complications. It’s important to choose an experienced doctor to avoid potential problems.
Complications and risks include:
- allergic reaction to anesthetic
- dimpling or puckering of the skin
- asymmetry resulting from broken threads (new threads can be inserted)
- thread may be felt or seen through the skin (this occurs if the thread is placed too close to the surface or if the skin is particularly thin)
- thread poking through the skin (never re-insert the thread yourself or you may risk infection).
Recovery after thread lift
After your thread lift, your surgeon may recommend that you eat only soft foods for a week, make no exaggerated facial expressions, and refrain from rubbing, massaging or sleeping on your face so you don’t disrupt the placement of the threads.
If you experience any pain or discomfort, you can usually manage it with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. You will reduce swelling by keeping your head elevated.
For the first 3 to 5 days after your thread lift, your doctor will recommend no strenuous exercise (including sexual activities), no shaving, and no scrubbing of the face. Again, you do not want to dislodge the threads. You should be able to return to work within two or three days after the procedure but you may still have some minor bruising and swelling.
Over time some of the threads may migrate and the barbs may irritate nerves causing some pain. Get in touch with your doctor if this occurs.
Thread lift cost
In the United States, the cost is about $300 to $350 per thread, although this can go higher. This means that the typical thread lift can range from $1,800 to $6,500, with an average cost of $3,900.
Thread lifts are definitely less expensive than facelifts and may be a good alternative; however, many patients find the results to be less than adequate. Some see no difference at all; others see results that last no more than a few months to a few years. Many plastic surgeons no longer offer these products because they are not impressed with the results.
Be sure to explore all of your options for surgical and non surgical facelift procedures before you decide. A discussion with your plastic surgeon will lead you in the right direction to get the results you expect.