Thread Face Lift Technique

The Thread Lift

A thread face lift is a relatively new and less invasive alternative to a traditional surgical face lift. The threads used are actually specially made sutures. There are two brand names associated with the procedure Contour Threadlift and FeatherLift or Aptos Thread Lift. Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first sutures for use in cosmetic surgical procedures in 2004, thread lifts have grown rapidly in popularity.

The thread lift has been widely publicized as lunch hour face lift or weekend face lift. Although a thread lift is minimally invasive and you do have a much shorter recovery time than with a traditional surgical face lift, you still need a few days to recover. Do not expect that you can have a thread face lift and go out dining and dancing that night. Recovery with a thread lift is easier than with a surgical face lift, but it is not as easy as the publicity would have you believe.

The publicity also overstates the amount of improvement a thread lift can provide. You should not expect dramatic changes to your face. A thread lift can be used to tighten and pull skin and underlying tissue upward slightly, but it will create subtle changes, at best. If you have a lot of sagging, you may need the more extensive change that a surgical face lift can provide. For more information about traditional face lifts, check out the information on Face Lift Techniques and Mini Face Lift.

The key elements in a thread face lift are the special suture-like threads. These threads have barbs or cogs along their length. In a thread lift, a cosmetic surgeon uses a hollow needle to insert the thread into your face just under the skin. The hollow needle is inserted through tiny incisions. The surgeon then gently pulls up on the thread and the barbs catch the tissue, pulling the skin of the face into a more pleasing position. The thread is then tied off and the ends are buried under the skin. As your face heals, it forms collagen around the thread, which helps support the skin in its new position.

Several threads may be used in one thread lift and they can be placed on the forehead, lower face and jowls. However, the more threads that are put in place, the greater the amount of swelling and the longer your recovery time will be.

About 5,200 thread lifts were performed in 2006, up from 4,200 in 2005, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Thread lifts are still a relatively new procedure and the ASPS only started to collect data on the procedure in 2005. However, the ASPS has stopped counting thread lifts separately from other types of face lift and there is no way to tell if the number of thread lifts is rising or declining.

How a Thread Lift is Performed

If you decide to have a thread lift, make sure you find a qualified board-certified surgeon to perform the procedure. The thread lift is still relatively new, and many physicians and surgeons have just learned how to do it. Ask your surgeon about his or her credentials, training, and experience, and find out how many times he or she has performed a thread lift. Ask to see thread lift before-and-after photos of people who had the procedure done by your surgeon.

A thread lift can be performed in a doctors office or in a freestanding surgical clinic. You will receive injections of local anesthetic around the area of the incisions. After anesthesia is applied and the incisions are made, the surgeon will insert needles with the barbed threads in the areas to be smoothed out. Once the barbed sutures are in place, the surgeon will adjust the threads and lift your skin from below the surface.

You will be awake the whole time during your thread lift procedure and you can even watch what your surgeon is doing in a mirror so that you get the amount of lift you want. Once your final look has been achieved, the surgeon ties off the threads to anchor them in place. After your thread lift, you will be told to keep your face fairly immobile for a few days. Try to avoid wide yawns or other big movements of your face. Avoid rubbing your face for several days to allow the threads to settle into place. You may be told to avoid having a facial in the future.

The results of a thread lift procedure are immediate, but you will experience some swelling and probably some bruising around the incisions. Some people have reported that they can feel the threads afterward or that the end of one of the threads pokes through the skin. The Aptos threads are blue and there are reports of them showing through if they have been placed too close to the surface of the skin.

There have been instances where the threads have broken, causing part of the face to sag. Your surgeon can fix these problems. Your surgeon can also adjust the threads if there are problems with asymmetry. Threads can also be removed, if needed.

Because thread lifts have only been done for a few years, it is not known how long the results of the procedure last, but results are believed to last 3 to 5 years.

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