A thread-lift, also known as feather lift surgery, is a delicate cosmetic surgery procedure to gently lift sagging facial skin to produce a smoother, more youthful appearance. If gravity has started to take its toll on your face, a thread lift may be a less invasive alternative to a face lift to rejuvenate the face without the risks and downtime associated with surgery. The thread-lift procedure involves very fine surgical sutures being inserted in to the soft tissue of the face to lift and support sagging areas. It cannot offer the same results as a full face lift but is a good option for a subtler rejuvenation.
Suitable candidates for thread-lift surgery are normally women and men aged 35 to 65 who want a more effective and permanent facial lifting effect than fillers and Botox alone can provide, but who do not want or are not ready for a full surgical cosmetic procedure such as a face-lift or brow-lift.
If you have any of the following concerns, you may be a candidate for a thread-lift:
- Moderate sagging and laxity of the skin in the cheeks, eyebrows, eyes, jowls and neck
- Effects of a previous face-lift or neck-lift are wearing off
- Younger patients with cheek and brow sagging caused by weakened muscles (ptosis)
- Patients with realistic expectations for the outcome of their thread-lift surgery
Unsuitable candidates for thread-lift surgery include:
Patients with very thin, fragile and slack skin caused by the aging process Patients with heavy jowls and pronounced sagging in the facial area Patients with little facial fat Patients who do not have realistic expectations for the thread-lift procedure
When performed by an experienced thread-lift surgeon, the thread-lift surgical procedure is very safe however as with all cosmetic surgical treatments there are some risks involved.
Infection is one of the most common complications of surgery. It usually happens within one to six weeks of surgery. In the majority of cases an infection can just be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms of infection include fever as well as severe tenderness, redness, and swelling.
In rare cases you may also experience numbness or lack of sensitivity in the treated area. Scarring is another risk of surgery, however most thread-lifting techniques are designed to keep the scars hidden.
Uneven or asymmetrical results are another risk but the chances of this occurring are minimized by seeing a highly experienced practitioner.
The most undesirable complication of thread-lift surgery is migration of sutures, or sutures that become visible under the skin. If this happens you may require additional surgery to correct the problem or remove the threads completely. If you have had barbed threads that protrude out of the skin, then the problem can usually be resolved by your surgeon trimming away the end of the thread. Never try and remove the thread yourself as you may damage your face and cause an infection.
Because no excess skin is removed, unlike a face-lift, some people may experience a slight bunching or puckering of the skin where it has been pulled tighter. Because of the way the threads are inserted, this should be hidden in your hairline and should resolve over time. If the problem is noticeable and is making you unhappy speak to your surgeon.
Before you have a thread-lift you will need to have a consultation with a surgeon to see if you are a suitable candidate. The consultation is your opportunity to ask any questions you might have about the procedure. It is also a good idea to ask the surgeon if you can see before and after pictures of the previous work so you can see what results they have achieved with other patients. The most important thing is to make an informed decision that you feel confident about.
During your consultation your surgeon should take a thorough medical history and give you a consent form to sign to make sure you fully understand the possible risks and complications. It is very important that you read this form carefully.
After examining you your surgeon will explain your options and recommend what type of thread-lift you may need to achieve the best result.
The thread-lift procedure can be performed to lift and support:
- Sagging eyebrows
- Asymmetric eyebrows
- Nasolabial folds
- Sagging cheeks
- The mid and lower face and neck
There are a variety of different types of thread-lift procedures currently available in the UK. These include the Contour Lift and the Feather Lift and Aptos Thread-lift.
Contour thread is made of clear polypropylene with barbs along the thread, which once in position are gently opened like an umbrella, which lifts and re-positions the underlying sagging facial tissue to achieve a more youthful appearance. The Aptos thread has barbs along the entire length. These barbs are inserted under the skin to draw together the tissue and fill out and lift the sagging skin.
Thread-lift techniques and the number of threads used will vary depending on the type of threads being used. The thread-lift procedure normally only requires local anesthesia, although you may also be offered light sedation depending on the extent of the thread-lift surgery and your personal preference. The thread-lift operation normally takes 30 minutes to one hour to complete, depending on the number of threads to be used.
In general, the threads are inserted via a very small incision behind the hairline so there are no visible scars. After making the incision the surgeon uses a thick, hollow needle to insert the thread under the facial skin, starting near the cheekbone. The other end of the thread is then tied to deeper internal facial structures. The thread is gently tugged and pulled upwards, tightening the loose skin and underlying tissues. The barbs on the threads lock into place upon insertion. The ends are sutured beneath the skin surface.
The threads remain under the skin to provide structure and support. You should not be able to see or feel the threads once they are in place. The body then generates its own collagen to maintain the lifting effect.
The effects can be seen immediately after your thread-lift face-lift procedure.
Immediately following thread-lift face-lift surgery, your face may be swollen and bruised. This should resolve after a few days. There may also be some numbness, and you may experience some pain, which can be controlled with pain medication. Your thread-lift surgeon may advise you to rest and sleep during your thread-lift surgery recovery time with your head elevated to reduce any swelling.
You will need someone to drive you home after your thread-lift surgery, and to help you out for about 24 hours. You should eat only soft foods for seven days.
Normal activities may be resumed three to seven days after the thread-lift face-lift procedure, and depending on the type of work you do, you should be able to return during this time. Bruising can be covered up with make up after seven days. Avoid rubbing or contorting your face for three weeks after thread-lift surgery.