A suture lift or thread lift is a form of non-surgical ‘mini’ facelift performed delicately by a cosmetic surgeon. A thread lift is a less severe or invasive form of facial tightening, bringing skin backwards and upwards to give the impression of a more youthful tightness. A thread lift is particularly useful for sagging around the chin and jaw, laxity around the mouth, and for cheeks that may droop to make prominent jowls.
How a thread lift compares with a surgical facelift
Facelifts are a very invasive procedure that requires cutting and reattaching. The procedure merely uses what’s already there, providing scalpel-free tightening. This light-weight solution to laxity suits many people far better than surgery.
Read more >>
Surgical augmentation requires longer recovery times than a thread lift, as the areas near the hairline are cut and removed, and muscles are tightened at the same time. Risk are always higher with any operation, and this is no different. Surgery is very useful in certain circumstances, but not usually for anyone who has previously had a facelift and has new laxity or for anyone who isn’t ready or able to undergo an operation.
A suture lift offers a viable alternative with just two incisions, near the back of the ears in a crease, where they are virtually invisible. Recovery is therefore far shorter and more comfortable, and results are still excellent, reliable, and consistent.
How a thread lift is done
We perform the thread lift using a type of suture known as prolene. Prolene does not absorb moisture, is completely synthetic (so it won’t break down), made of polypropylene. It is not reactive or an allergen, and is very durable, allowing the thread to stay put for long periods of time, years sometimes. Prolene is used to close soft tissue during other types of surgery, so is well understood and commonly used in medicine.
Read more >>
The tissue grows around the suture and holds it in place, in theory for a long period of time, though this may not always be the case. No tissue is actually removed, very little depth is penetrated, and you can’t see the threads. Only local anaesthetic is required for the procedure, however a general anaesthetic can be used if required. General anaesthetic is always a bit riskier. The prolene takes about an hour to string through.
First, two small (about 1cm) incisions are made behind the ear, and a long needle with the prolene attached through on the inside. When the area that is sagging is reached, the thread is then attached with small grippers, and then it is pulled towards the ear. The suture is tied, a couple of stitches are made behind the ear, and the treatment is complete.
Dissolvable stitches are then used to close the incisions behind the ear, which will close up and heal as per normal stitches, with virtually no scarring.
Visibility of the sutures
The only sign of a thread lift – if someone was looking for it – a small fold or wrinkle in front of the ear caused by the pulling, though this tends to settle over several months. This is easy to cover with hair.
You can resume normal daily activities the day after your thread lift. Some bruising and swelling is normal, and some discomfort may be experienced, but you will be prescribed some painkillers if you need them.
Other complementary procedures
Having more than one treatment can really boost the results, for example having lasers to boost collagen and elastin and boost your cells, can make a huge difference. These extra (and ongoing anti-ageing) procedures can make your results last much longer.
Risks and complications
The thread lift procedure is generally thought to be safe, well tolerated and recovery tends to be swift and relatively painless. The most likely and common outcome is slight bruising and swelling. Risks include the small wrinkle/fold at the ear, and sometimes pain can be felt in or around the ear. Sometimes, we need to do another procedure to retain the benefits.
Longevity of sutures
The results of a thread lift can last for a long time, years, but over time the thread will shift and become looser. We can’t stop ageing either, so further sagging will continue to occur. This means you can undergo other useful cosmetic marvels in the interim, but another treatment may be required a few years down the track, and sometimes sooner.
Sometimes the skin will even stay tighter, as it heals into the new position, but this isn’t the norm. Top-ups are less cost than the initial procedure.
Modifications and tightening of threads
If you don’t like the results or something irregular occurs with healing, the threads can be adjusted easily within the first month. If there is a need, the threads may need to be removed and replaced.
At ENRICH, we’re very experienced and having to redo a thread lift is extremely rare, however, sometimes the body has a mind of its own when it comes to how it heals and adjustments may be required.
Why we love the thread lift
- Low risk
- Fast recovery
- Reliable results
- More youthful appearance
- Anyone looking for a temporary minor face lift
- Those who can tolerate the very minor healing required
- Those with jowls, loose neck
- Those with sagging
- Anyone with a lot of wrinkles
Read more >>
You can tell if your face would benefit from tightening by looking in the mirror at home. Pull your cheeks up towards the ear – this will show you what the change could be.
The way one person’s face looks after a thread lift may vary considerably to another person’s, so photos aren’t always the best way to determine how you will look before and after. The best way to know is to make an appointment to have a consultation with your dermatologist. They know exactly how much can be achieved and in what ways.
How much lift to expect
With a thread lift, we can offer about 20 per cent of the lift you’d get from a surgical facelift, so it’s not a complete switch of one procedure for the other. Your face will look natural, but more youthful – you won’t have a dramatic shift where people notice you have had something change on your face. You will look well and rested, and people will say so.
What you can expect from your procedure
Once you have had a thread lift, you can expect about a week of recovery time, though sometimes it can take up to four weeks. This will depend on your particular healing rate and other factors.
Read more >>
You can get back to normal activities immediately, though naturally being cautious with your new stitches. You may not wish, for example, to get your hair bleached immediately afterward! (It’ll sting like crazy.)
Thread lifts can really make quite a dramatic difference to the face, but not in a really obvious way. It’ll simply make you look younger and healthier, especially when combined with other treatment strategies like facial rejuvenation and lasers. A great complexion wedded to tightened skin is a winning combination.
Our Melbourne clinic
Taking the guesswork out of anti-ageing is what we do best at ENRICH, with our Melbourne clinic being a global leader in cosmetic dermatology practices. Dr Michael Rich is a leader in his field, and runs the clinic with only the highest quality in mind. He only appoints the best dermatologists we have on offer, with a variety of experts available for dermatological consultation.
Thread lifts are gaining in popularity because they offer a viable alternative to surgery, accessible by many more people for a fraction of the cost. The procedure works well for men or women. Starting while we are younger is also a useful strategy, since the younger you start, the less dramatic the differences, and the greater the results over time.
We do beautiful faces.
*Results may vary from person to person