Procedures/ Thread Lift

Thread Lift

Procedures 5 min read


Thread Lift

Until the 1990s, the only way to correct aging concerns such as facial skin laxity, jowls, and drooping cheeks was with facelift surgery. However, not all patients are willing or able to undergo facial plastic surgery. And while skin resurfacing treatments can restore some degree of firmness, they are unable to match the results that can be achieved with a scalpel. Thread lifting is a less invasive procedure that has filled the gap between non-invasive facial rejuvenation treatments and surgical procedures like a traditional facelift. Please continue reading to learn everything there is to know about thread lifts. Find out how a PDO thread lift can turn back the clock and restore a more youthful appearance to your face without surgery.

What is a thread lift?

A thread lift or barbed suture lift is a minimally-invasive cosmetic procedure that is performed in a plastic surgeon or cosmetic surgeon's office. The procedure involves the placement of sutures (stitches) under the skin's surface to achieve a visible yet subtle lift in loose, sagging skin. Rather than removing loose skin with a scalpel as is done during a facelift surgery, the plastic surgeon suspends the skin and tightens it by stitching it up. The procedure essentially has the effect of pulling the skin back to lift and tighten loose facial tissue. The threads used in the procedure are medical-grade sutures that produce a temporary lift and help sculpt the shape of the face.

Why do we develop signs of aging?

As we grow older, the skin becomes thin and dry due to years of sun exposure. There is also a drop in collagen formation in the skin. Collagen is the protein that supports the skin and gives it a smooth, voluminous, supple appearance. This reduction in collagen production is largely responsible for the formation of excess skin and wrinkles. There is not enough collagen to support the facial tissues, allowing gravity to pull them downwards and stretch them. Thread lifts not only physically lift loose tissues but also strengthen, thicken, and hydrate aging skin by increasing the formation of collagen.

How does a thread lift work?

Thread lifts work in two ways. The first is pretty straightforward. The threads, which are thin, dissolvable sutures, pull the skin tight. However, in addition to lifting loose skin, the threads also provoke the body's natural healing response by causing microscopic injuries. This leads to a surge in collagen production in the treated areas. As noted, collagen is an essential skin protein that plays an important role in the aging process. A thread lift can, therefore, lift and tighten the face and lead to a gradual improvement in the skin tone and firmness.

Are there different types of thread lifts?

Yes, there are several different kinds of thread lifts. One common and popular type is a PDO thread lift. PDO is short for polydioxanone, is a flexible, durable, absorbable polymer. PDO threads come in various lengths, thicknesses, and textures (barbed, non-barbed, unidirectional, multidirectional, heart barbed, double screw, etc.). Each is designed to serve a unique purpose. Your aesthetic provider will choose a PDO thread or a combination of threads depending on your facial structure and anti-aging treatment goals. Two FDA-approved thread lifts are briefly described below.


This procedure takes 30-45 minutes to complete and is done under local anesthesia. There is no downtime and you can return to work immediately after your appointment. NovaThreads uses biocompatible PDO threads that safely dissolve over time. The results last for 4-6 months. However, results from a NovaThreads lift may be visible for a year or more due to the lingering effects of increased collagen formation. The treatment can be customized by using barbed NovaThreads that produce more lift, curved or straight sutures that are excellent collagen stimulators, or a combination of the two. Strategic placement of barbed and smooth sutures can lead to smoothening of the skin as well as lifting of the cheeks and jowls.

Silhouette InstaLift

The Silhouette InstaLift procedure also uses biocompatible temporary sutures. However, the focus is more on lifting and less on stimulating collagen formation. The threads used in Silhouette InstaLift are, therefore, a little different and have cones rather than barbs. The cones gather more skin and create a greater lift in the jowls and cheeks with fairly long-lasting results of 1-3 years. This office procedure is fast (it takes around 45 minutes) and is performed under local anesthesia. You can return to all normal activities immediately after your appointment.

What are the targeted areas for a thread lift?

The main purpose of a thread lift is lifting the skin. The key areas where a thread lift can correct a sag include the jawline and jowls, cheeks, under-eye area, brow line, and forehead. Less commonly, thread lifts are used to lift and tighten breast tissue in women after pregnancy or weight loss.

What are the benefits of a thread lift?

A thread lift procedure is highly customizable and incredibly versatile. It can be used to treat virtually any part of the face. This less invasive treatment is an office procedure that is quick, safe, and effective. The improvement is immediate and long-lasting (several months to a year). There is continued gradual improvement and rejuvenation after a thread lift due to increased collagen formation.

How do you prepare for a thread lift?

There is no special preparation for a thread lift. Be sure to tell your doctor your complete medical history and medications, including over-the-counter supplements and herbal remedies. Avoid using any harsh skincare products before your appointment. Don't drink alcohol the night before. Follow your surgeon's instructions about not taking certain medications such as blood thinners or NSAIDs for one week before your thread lift, as these medicines can increase the risk of bleeding.

What is the thread lift procedure like?

The thread lift procedure is fairly straightforward. Your cosmetic/plastic surgeon will clean your skin and apply a topical anesthetic (numbing cream). They will then use a thin needle or cannula to insert the PDO threads under the skin tissue to lift sagging skin in the face, neck, or breasts. You may feel some a slight tugging or pressure sensation. The treatment usually takes 30-45 minutes. Once the threads have been inserted, you will be free to go home.

What to expect after a thread lift?

There is no downtime after the procedures. The recovery after a PDO thread lift is minimal. There can be some noticeable swelling and bruising where the sutures are placed. However, most patients are able to go back to work right away. You should avoid rubbing your face too vigorously for a few days after the treatment, including rubbing moisturizer over the sutures in the face, neck. Your surgeon may ask you to sleep with your head propped up and avoid sleeping on your side for a few weeks after your thread lift. You will be advised to avoid hot tubs, saunas, and strenuous workouts for a week or two.

The results of a thread lift are visible immediately. They are long-lasting but not permanent. Like dermal fillers and Botox, the threads used in the procedure are eventually absorbed by the body. You will need to return for repeat treatments to maintain your facial rejuvenation. Most patients cannot feel the threads in the skin once healing occurs at the site.

What are the risks and side effects?

A thread lift is a minimally-invasive, low-risk procedure. However, like all cosmetic treatments, there is a risk of complications. Common side effects such as bruising and swelling usually resolve on their own. There can be slight pain at the sites where the threads were inserted. Less commonly, there may be dimpling, which can be easily corrected. More serious side effects that require medical attention include bleeding, infection, allergic reaction to the thread material, migration, and pain due to the threads being pulled too tight. Call your surgeon without delay if you experience any of these signs and symptoms.

How long do PDO threads last?

The longevity of the PDO threads depends on various factors, such as type, thickness, and your metabolism. Most threads dissolve in 6-9 months.

How can I get the most out of my thread lift?

You can maximize the results of your thread lift by following your surgeon's post-procedure instructions. It is also possible to combine thread lifts with other nonsurgical procedures for more noticeable results. Once the skin has healed from the thread insertion, you can undergo treatments such as ultherapy to maximize skin firming and tightening. You can also undergo skin resurfacing treatments to address skin blemishes such as age spots, uneven skin tone, rough texture, pigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. By combining various non-surgical anti-aging treatments, you can get a dramatic improvement in your appearance without the extended recovery time associated with facelift surgery.

Thread lift vs. surgical facelift

Advantages of a thread lift

  • Quick office procedure with no downtime.
  • Lower risk of complications.
  • If you don't like the results, they are temporary - the threads will dissolve over time.
  • Subtle and natural looking results.
  • Less expensive than a facelift surgery.

Disadvantages of a thread lift

  • You don't get the dramatic results that can be achieved with a surgical facelift.
  • The results are temporary and you need repeat treatments to maintain the lift.
  • You may need additional treatments like dermal fillers to address all your aging concerns.

If you are just starting to notice signs of aging, it is worth undergoing a thread lift and seeing how you like your new look. You can delay facelift surgery for later to correct more severe aging concerns.

How much does a thread lift cost?

The cost of a thread lift can vary greatly depending on how much lifting the skin you need, your provider's experience and skill level, and where you live. Getting several areas treated can add to the cost. Also, if you add other therapies such as Botox or Juvederm dermal fillers, the cost will be higher. In general, a thread lift costs 60% less than a surgical facelift. The average cost of a thread lift is around $2,250.

Is a thread lift worth it?

A thread lift is a good idea for someone in their 30s to 50s. A person over the age of 55 may not be a good thread lift candidate. The procedure may not achieve noticeable results in older individuals and they may benefit more from facelift surgery. However, thread lifts are an alternative to facelift in older patients who are unwilling or unable to have surgery. Keep in mind that no cosmetic treatment or lifting technique produces permanent results. Facelift surgery results are, however, considerably longer lasting than a thread lift.

How to find a thread lift provider

You should choose a licensed, trained provider to ensure you get the desired results and reduce your risk of complications from a thread lift. The MeTime app makes it easy to find plastic and cosmetic surgeons who perform thread lifts in your area. You can chat with experts, send photos across, set up a video consult, and book an appointment when you're ready. Download the MeTime app today and get answers to all your questions about a thread lift.

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