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.
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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.
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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
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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.
THREAD LIFT FAQ
We perform a thread lift by threading a suture strategically through the tissue to gain a backward and upward lift, typically of the face, but can be other areas. The thread stimulates collagen production around itself, increasing the tightening effect over the coming months.
When performed correctly, thread lifts are understood to be a low-risk, reversible method of providing facial tissue lift. There are some risks to the procedure, including inflammation or irritation, but there have been virtually no adverse reactions recorded beyond this.
You can expect to pay in the low thousands for a thread lift. The cost can be dependant on several aspects including :
– the experience and skill of your practitioner
– the quality of the clinic
– how many and what type of thread you require.
There are several brands of thread available to cosmetic doctors, which also contributes to the costs. Each sort has its characteristics and uses and associated costs.
Threads may cause irritation or inflammation of the skin, and rarely the sutures may become visible under the skin. There is virtually no risk of bruising, bleeding, scarring or other complications due to the materials used and the way they integrate with human tissue.
Thread lifts have a very low complication rate, making them a very safe, effective tool in our anti-aging arsenal.
That depends on which thread we use. Some threads dissolve, while others do not.
If your sutures are supposed to dissolve, they are biodegradable so will be slowly absorbed by the body over about six months. After the threads have dissolved, the collagen deposits remain, keeping the lift for a while longer.
If your threads are non-biodegradable, they will remain in the skin unless removed, possibly replaced or tightened.
Threads can be removed, tightened or adjusted after the procedure, but if the threads are dissolvable, they start to dissolve into your tissue and removal becomes impossible. The threads have then become part of your face and will be absorbed.
If the positioning isn’t right or there is a rare adverse reaction, you can pop back into the clinic, and we can adjust or remove the threads without issue, especially non-biodegradable types.
We must make two incisions, usually just in front of the ear, which as is natural, leaves a small scar. We always put the incision in a crease where it is invisible, so nobody will be able to tell that you’ve had the sutures put in. These scars are very small and will fade naturally over time, and the hair usually covers the small fold.
We can offer up to about a 20 per cent lift with a standard thread lift. If we use other skin tightening treatments, we may be able to increase this; however, the amount of lift you will achieve is individual.
How much lift you will get depends on how elastic your skin is. If you have a great deal of sagging and wrinkling, the results won’t be as dramatic.
There has been much debate about the thread lift and how it measures up to a surgical facelift. The fact is, these two treatments couldn’t be more different and are incomparable when laid side by side.
Nothing is ever going to get as much lift as a surgical facelift, it’s the ultimate lift, but the point is, the thread lift isn’t trying to be a facelift. The thread lift offers a non-surgical mild lifting option, not in competition with, but as an early intervention tool when compared with the facelift. The facelift
should be considered an advanced anti-ageing tool, while the thread lift is, while not exactly entry-level anti-ageing, close.
A facelift is a surgical procedure, while a thread lift is not. A thread lift is minimally invasive – you’re implanting a thread under the skin – but it is in no way comparable to the invasiveness of a facelift.
You can expect to have an appointment for about an hour, with the thread lift itself taking about 30-45 minutes. You may need to factor in some post-treatment swelling and redness, so plan your appointment and day accordingly.
You can expect your results to last for up to two years. Usually, we’d see you well before then for the other elements of your anti-ageing strategy, however, if we don’t, make an appointment when you start to see the treatment losing its effect, and we’ll figure out what the best approach is.
You don’t need to take time off work to have a thread lift, but you may prefer to schedule the rest of the day off or get a late appointment if you don’t want anyone to see the impact.
Usually, the face is the treatment area of choice, but other areas of the body may benefit from skin tightening using these sutures. Body areas may require special types of thread compared with facial lifting. Body threads are thinner, able to be wound through larger surface areas that do not require lifting as such, but more to stimulate collagen production for tightening.
A thread lift is a walk-in walk-out procedure. You can expect some redness, possibly bruising, and a little swelling, but this will disappear over 24-48 hours.
It’s not useful for those with supple, elastic skin to get a thread lift, as there is nothing to lift, while the procedure is not enough to make a meaningful difference in inelastic, aged skin. What this means in real life is that if you are under 35 or over 65, a thread lift probably isn’t going to be your weapon of choice.
The best candidates for a thread lift are those with developing jowls and saggy of facial skin, usually around the cheeks and jawline.
You can expect your results to last for up to two years. Keep in mind that if you utilise other anti-aging treatments as well as the suture lift, you maximise results.
Only registered medical doctors are allowed to perform thread lifts in Australia. There are several brands of cosmetic companies manufacturing the threads, which come in many styles and serve various purposes when implanted. Specialists & cosmetic doctors usually have a brand preference, and they received additional training by the supplying company on a specific product to ensure optimal results for patients.
Some lift results will be apparent immediately, however as collagen production increases, results gradually increase over the weeks and months post-procedure. Collagen takes a while to be produced by the body, so visible results do take time.
You can see the maximum effect after about three months, after which the results will stabilise, then gradually disappear with normal ageing over 1-2 years.
Thread lifts can be used on their own, or with a variety of other effective anti-aging treatments. Some of our favourite combination treatments include dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections, with complexion-enhancing tools like laser and other energy-based treatments. We have a full arsenal at our disposal, so we can develop you an effective anti-ageing plan based on your specific needs.
We can do thread lifts on the nose, but we wouldn’t, simply because we have other more effective ways to manage the aesthetics of the nose.
The sutures can, theoretically, be placed anywhere on the body for the collagen-producing or lifting effect. We expect over time that more areas of the body will get threaded, but for now, the face is the main treatment area of choice.
Dissolvable stitches have been used in surgery and medicine for many decades now, is a revolutionary invention. Dissolvable stitching has proved to be a safe, effective and reliable tool, and in most cases, dissolvable stitches are the go-to in most surgery.
The materials used to make these stitches are biologically inactive and benign, not known for allergic reactions or irritation, which is why they are so widely used. The same type of material used in dissolvable stitches is used with our sutures in our suture lift. The bodies natural response to these foreign bodies introduced into the skin is how we stimulate the collagen that is responsible for the longer-lasting lift.
Cosmetic medicine has taken the dissolvable stitch, revamped it for its new role, and put it to good use as an anti-aging tool.
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.
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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