The thread lift procedure is a facelift for those that cannot or do not want to endure the expense and recovery involved with a traditional facelift. Because of the ease and speed of the thread lift, it has earned several nicknames such as the “lunch break lift” and the “weekend lift.” This is mostly due to the fact that in many cases a thread lift takes about one hour, can be performed under local anesthesia, and recovery time is about half the duration of usual facelift procedures. In addition to the speed of the procedure, there are no true incisions involved in a thread lift nor is there a need for external sutures. This means that a thread lift does not cause scarring of the facial skin.
In a thread lift procedure, a barbed suture (thread) is placed under the skin using a thin needle. This thread is attached to a portion of the sagging face, drawn up and attached to a higher area of the face. Because of the barbs on the thread, it can hold on to the underlying tissue without slipping. It is often the case that more than one thread is required in order to pull the entire facial structure up to the desired location. Common sites for thread lift are the brow line, the eyelids, and the corners of the mouth.
Since the procedure is done under local anesthesia with intravenous sedation, patients can hold a hand mirror up to their face and provide instant feedback to the plastic surgeon—if the area needs more of a lift, another thread can be added. This instant feedback makes this minimally invasive procedure quite satisfying to patients, despite the fact that most thread lift procedures do not dramatically alter the contour of the face. In fact, many patients should prepare for the possibility that some people do not notice any difference in their face after a thread lift.
There are two major types of threads for use in thread lift procedures, the Contour Thread and the Aptos Thread systems. There are subtle differences between the two products and the selection of the material will likely be dictated by your surgeon’s experience and comfort level with the respective devices. The one major difference between them is that the Contour Thread is somewhat more limited in its placement and can only be used in one direction while the Aptos product is slightly more versatile for certain applications. Again, the thread that is used in your lift will likely be chosen by your surgeon, and, if you are given the option, you should ask your plastic surgeon which device she prefers and why.
Since a foreign object is being placed in the skin, there is some risk of infection, which would require that the thread(s) be removed. In some instances the threads can slip, causing a partial drop in the lifted area. This is more of a concern during the recovery period and the risk can be minimized by limiting physical activity of the face as much as possible during that time.
The thread lift procedure is a new, old procedure. Thread lifts, in a slightly different form, were available in the early years of plastic surgery but were not performed because of the variability of their results. The Contour and Aptos Threads probably reflect improvements over the old technology, however many surgeons are waiting to see the intermediate and long term outcomes in patients before incorporating thread lifts into their practice. This may mean that it may be slightly more difficult for you to find a surgeon that is willing to perform a thread lift procedure.