Over the past decade or so Thread lifts have grown in popularity as patients seek to tackle facial sagging without the costs of full facial surgery. Thread lifts are marketed as ‘minimally invasive procedures’ where sutures are inserted into the subdermal region of the skin to help lift and tighten sagging tissue, but they come with a long list of complications and high complication rates. So, are there any safer alternatives to Thread Lifts?
How does a Thread Lift work?
There are two ways in which a thread lift works. First, your doctor will stitch to pull back your skin with temporary stitches. As a result, the area appears tighter. Threads are textured filaments that grab the undersides of skin to hold them in place. With these threads, your face looks instantly lifted.
Second, the threads stimulate your body’s natural healing process. The threads will be treated as an injury by your body, and more collagen will be produced there. Proteins such as collagen give your skin its plumpness and fullness.
What are Threads made from?
There is a wide range of Threads on the market, but the main types are absorbable and contain synthetic polymers such as polydioxanone (PDO), poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) or polycaprolactone (PCA). Most threads have certain collagen-stimulating properties, with newer ones also containing Hyaluronic acid.
The threads can also have different physical properties which means they can be smooth, barbed, with cogs or springs to hook and lift the skin.
How long does a thread lift last?
The lifting effect is not as dramatic as you’d expect from its name. The initial lifting effect can fade in as little as six months. Threads gradually dissolve over six to nine months, and you’ll see most of their collagen-boosting effects during that time.
What are Thread lift complications?
Complications from Thread Lifts have recently become more prevalent in the press, usually involving unregulated non-medics performing this medical treatment. However, whether you see a regulated medical professional or not there is a wide range of risks and potential complications associated with Thread Lifts and with a growing number of treatments being performed, it’s important to understand and be aware of those risks.
Bear in mind most literature is done on medical professional-based treatments, and so does not cover the complications caused by non-medical professionals, which inevitably increases the risks of serious complications.
- Incidences of infections following thread-lifts vary in regular literature between 0.01% to 31%. It is one of the most common complications patients can have post-procedure. These infections can become active shortly following the procedure or later when associated with inflammation caused by threads themselves or through a foreign body reaction. Infection can present as pain, swelling, redness or heat in the area affected.
- If you are seeing a registered medical practitioner, they should prescribe prophylactic antibiotics as part of their protocol as prevention is key. Thread lifts are a CQC-regulated treatment and as such should be performed in a clinical setting, with aseptic techniques to prevent infections.
- Swelling is another common post-procedural complication, where it had an incidence of 35% in a meta-analysis of 26 studies (8,190 patients and 642 cases of complications).
- Dimpling & contour irregularities
- Dimpling and skin irregularities are other common complications with incidence cited between 10-20% according to the literature. This complication occurs when the suture is placed in the incorrect position, usually, they are not placed deep enough. Although some dimpling can resolve spontaneously, the use of heat (e.g. radiofrequency) can help persistent dimpling.
- Persistent dimpling can also be released by subcision – this means releasing the tethering and scar tissue by sliding the needle under the specific area.
- Thread Extrusion
- Using the wrong thread, too long a thread, incorrect placement, migration due to breakage or potential infection can all cause threads to extrude from the skin or be visible under the skin. The reported incidence ranges from 2-4%
- Nerve Injury
- The incidence of nerve injury from thread lifts is reported as 3% for facial nerve injury and 19% for paraesthesia (pins and needles sensation).
- The nerves most at risk from these complications are the temporal branch of the facial nerve, the buccal branch and the marginal mandibular branches.
- Asymmetry can occur due to over or under-correction of a side and is reported to occur in around 3% of reported cases (looking at 6,098 patients).
- Asymmetry may occur due to the weakening of the thread on one side.
Alternatives to Thread Lifts
The advancement in cosmetic procedures has been astounding the past decade or so, and with that have come along far safer options to ‘non-surgical’ facelifts.
At Health & Aesthetics, we have a range of treatments, designed to lift and tighten without the risks and complications present in thread-lift procedures.
Endolift is an innovative, minimally-invasive alternative to a surgical facelift, which uses laser energy to tighten the skin and contour facial fat – with minimal downtime. The EndoLift offers a remarkable, non-surgical alternative to the traditional surgical facelift (or neck lift), as well as options for body contouring.
Endolift has multiple purposes: the remodelling of both deep and superficial layers of the skin, toning, the retraction of connective septum’s, the stimulation of collagen production, and, when necessary, the reduction of excessive fat.
The Endolift treatment is a medical procedure and it is always performed in day surgery with a fully trained Doctor. Specific single-use micro-optical fibres, a bit thinner than hair, are easily inserted under the skin into the superficial hypodermis. Endolift does not require incisions and usually, only a localized air-cooling system is used to reduce any minor discomfort.
The procedure does not involve long recovery times and you will be able to immediately return to your usual activities. Results are not only immediate and long-term but continue to improve for several months following the procedure, as additional collagen builds in the deep layers of the skin.
Sofwave™ is a clinically proven, FDA-cleared, non-invasive approach to remodelling collagen, which improves facial lines and wrinkles and a lifting effect to the eyebrows, neck, and submental region.
Using proprietary Synchronous Ultrasound Parallel Beam (SUPERB™) technology, ultrasound energy precisely passes through the skin’s surface (the epidermis), heating the mid-dermal tissue at just the precise depth and temperature to rejuvenate collagen fibres and improving the overall appearance of the skin.
Sofwave works by generating heat at the right depth of 1.5mm in the mid-dermis. Additionally, there is an integrated cooling SofCool™ mechanism that protects the uppermost skin layer from burning.
The impacted treatment zones stimulate a healing response, called neocollagenesis, which increases and regenerates the collagen in the skin, leading to the reduction in fine lines and wrinkles.
Dermal fillers are used to treat lines and wrinkles and areas of the face and body which have lost volume. By restoring this lost volume, the treatment area is plumped to create a lift and rejuvenate areas that need more volume. This also improves the structure of the face and the texture of the skin by restoring hydration.
Dermal Fillers are gels made from crosslinked hyaluronic acid which means that it is smooth and easy to inject while lasting for several months. Hyaluronic acid can hold 100x its weight in water so when it is injected, it attracts water from the surrounding tissues helping the skin to retain moisture, adding plumpness and smoothing lines of the treatment area.
At Health & Aesthetics, we use Teoxane and Revanesse fillers. These are FDA approved so they are proven to be both safe and effective.
If you are looking at safer alternatives to Thread Lifts, then we have a range of non-surgical options available. Please feel free to fill in the form below to request more information and we will get in touch with you.