Considering a Thread Lift for Subtle Facial Rejuvenation

As we age, the effects of gravity, sun exposure, and loss of collagen and elastin can result in sagging skin on the face. Jowls, sagging cheeks, and loose neck skin are common concerns for those seeking facial rejuvenation. For some, a surgical facelift may be too invasive or come with too much downtime. An alternative is a thread lift – a minimally invasive procedure that uses dissolvable sutures to lift and tighten the face. 

Thread lifts offer a subtler, less dramatic change compared to a full facelift, while still providing visible improvements. They have quickly grown in popularity due to the minimal recovery time, affordable cost, and natural-looking results they can provide. If you’re considering facial rejuvenation, a thread lift may offer just the refreshed, youthful appearance you want without the need for major surgery.

What is a Thread Lift?

A thread lift, also known as a barbed suture lift, is a cosmetic procedure that uses temporary sutures to lift the sagging skin of the face. Absorbable sutures with tiny barbs or cones are strategically inserted under the skin to lift and reposition drooping facial tissues. As the sutures dissolve over time, collagen production is stimulated to provide longer-lasting results. 

The thread lift technique was invented and pioneered in the late 1990s by Dr. Nikolas Chugay. Since then, the procedure has continued to advance with the development of improved suture materials and techniques. Today, thread lifts are performed using minimally invasive methods and offer a viable anti-ageing treatment for those not ready or willing to have a surgical facelift. More information on celebrities who have gotten thread lifts can be found at

How Do Thread Lifts Work?

During a thread lift, a cosmetic surgeon will insert thin threads with tiny barbs or knots under the skin through small incisions made in front of and behind the ear. The barbs act as hooks that anchor the threads to the underlying tissues. Once threaded into place, the barbed sutures pull drooped skin upward into a lifted position. The threads will be absorbed by the body over time, but stimulate collagen production to promote longer-lasting lifting of the skin.

The threads used in the procedure are made of materials that have been safely used in surgery for many years. Most threads used today are either absorbable polydioxanone (PDO) sutures or polylactic acid (PLA) sutures. These sutures are flexible and strong enough to lift sagging tissues, yet dissolvable so they do not need to be removed.

Thread lifts can target specific problem areas on the face, such as:

– Sagging cheeks and jowls

– Drooping brows

– Loose neck skin and horizontal neck bands 

– Frown lines between the eyebrows

– Crow’s feet

– Sagging skin around the mouth 

Types of Thread Lifts

There are a few different types and techniques of thread lifts to address various concerns.

Barbed suture lifts involve threads with tiny barbs or knots that cling to tissues and hold them in place once inserted under the skin. The barbs distribute tension along the length of the threads to lift sagged tissues up with an even pull. Popular barbed suture thread lifts include the Contour Lift, Soft Lift, and Isse Lift.

Screw-in suture lifts such as the Silhouette Instalift use threads with tiny screws or cones that act like corkscrews under the skin to lift tissues up and back. These sutures are wound in place for added strength and lifting action. The screws or cones stimulate collagen production while also anchoring the threads.

Smooth, non-barbed suture lifts rely on the gathering and compressing action of the threads themselves once woven under the skin for repositioning facial tissues. Smooth PDO threads are an example, providing a strong “stitch” to lift skin.

Combination thread lifts may utilise both smooth and barbed sutures in crisscross patterns to enhance the repositioning of tissue. Customised multi-directional lifting helps address sagging cheeks, jowls, brows, and neck bands.

Your surgeon will determine the specific type of thread lift best suited for your treatment goals and areas to be addressed. In some cases, thread lifting may be combined with filler injections or non-surgical skin tightening treatments for further rejuvenation.

Benefits of Thread Lifts

Compared to traditional surgical facelift procedures, thread lifts offer some unique advantages:

Minimally Invasive

Thread lifts use much smaller incisions than the long cuts required for a surgical facelift. No major flaps or tissue repositioning are involved. This means minimal discomfort, trauma, and scarring to facial tissues. Recovery is much quicker with thread lifts.

Subtle, Natural Results 

While surgical facelifts produce more dramatic changes in appearance, thread lifts provide subtle improvements in facial contouring. The results look refreshed and renewed, but very natural – never tight, stiff or obviously “done.”

Less Downtime

Most patients can return to normal activities in just 2-5 days following thread lift procedures. Moderate soreness, swelling, and bruising may occur but resolve quickly. Activities with a risk of trauma to the face should be avoided for about 2 weeks.

Non-Surgical Option

Thread lifts are a great alternative for those who want noticeable improvements without undergoing facelift surgery. No general anaesthesia is required. The mini-incisions heal rapidly. Overall, thread lifts are much less impactful physically compared to surgical procedures.


Thread lift costs are comparable to medium-depth chemical peels or an extensive non-surgical facial treatment. On average, in the US, thread lifts range from $1,500 – $4,500 depending on the areas treated and the technique used. In the UK, The cost of the procedure can vary, starting at £800 and going up to £2,400, depending on the number of threads required. Surgical facelifts typically start at $7,000 or more. In the UK, they can be anywhere from £10,000 right up to £30,000!

Customisable Results

The position and tension of threads can be tailored for each patient’s optimal lift and shape. Threads are adjusted over 1-2 follow-up visits if needed, to “fine-tune” results. Some surgeons offer free revisions within a year if necessary.

Effective for Early Sagging

Thread lifts are ideal for mild to moderate sagging and jowling, making them suitable for patients in their 40s-50s looking for facial rejuvenation. Surgical lifts may be overtreatment for this demographic. Thread lifts help restore youthful definition before ageing advances further.

Long Lasting Effect

Results from thread lifts can last from 1-3 years on average. As the absorbable sutures dissolve, they stimulate the body’s collagen production for fuller, firmer skin over time. Some periodic touch-up injections may help maintain results.

Who is a Candidate for Thread Lifts?

Good candidates for thread lift procedures include:

– Adults in their 40s-60s with early signs of facial aging

– Those seeking moderate lifting and rejuvenation, but not a dramatic change

– People who want an alternative to surgical facelift procedures

– Healthy individuals without serious medical conditions that impair healing

– Non-smokers (smoking impedes healing from this elective procedure)

– Patients with good skin tone and elasticity (results will be more subtle on looser skin)

– Those willing to avoid strenuous activity or trauma for 2 weeks after treatment

Thread lifts work best for mild to moderate sagging of the cheeks, jowls, brow, and neck. Severely loose, inelastic skin will not conform as well to thread lifts. Similarly, thread lifts may not adequately address heavy folds around the nose and mouth. Most surgeons recommend starting thread lift treatments before advanced signs of ageing develop. 

What to Expect During Treatment

Thread lift procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, either in a plastic surgeon’s office or outpatient surgery centre. Local anaesthesia is used to numb treatment sites. Oral or intravenous sedation may be offered for added relaxation if desired.

The typical thread lift procedure takes about 30-60 minutes to perform. Depending on the areas treated, the steps usually include:

1. Cleansing and marking the skin for measured thread placement.

2. Injecting local anaesthetic to numb the treatment areas. This may feel like a little pinch and sting. The numbing takes about 10-15 minutes to take effect.

3. Making tiny incisions within the hairline, temple, sideburn, and/or under the jawline to insert the threads.

4. Using thin cannulas to tunnel the threads into the optimal positions beneath the skin. Gentle pressure and tension are applied to lift the tissues.

5. Adjusting the threads to ensure the tissues are lifted evenly into a smooth contour. Any excess threads are trimmed.

6. Applying tape or adhesive strips over the access incisions.

7. Reviewing post-treatment care instructions. 

After the 30-60 minute procedure, there are no bandages and very minimal signs of treatment. Some temporary swelling, soreness, bruising or numbness may occur and resolve rapidly. Most patients feel able to resume normal activities in 2-5 days. Strenuous exercise and trauma to the face should be avoided for 2 weeks.

Results appear gradually over 2-3 months as collagen stimulation begins. Optimal outcomes are seen around 6 months post-treatment. Most patients can expect their thread lift results to last 1-3 years. Some routine injections or a touch-up procedure may help prolong the improvements.

Recovery and Downtime

One of the biggest advantages of thread lifts is the quick recovery involved. Side effects are minor and temporary.

– Swelling/bruising: Some moderate swelling, redness, or bruising can occur and resolve within 1 week. The use of cool compresses can help minimise swelling.

– Discomfort: Tingling, tightness, and soreness may be present and improved with over-the-counter pain relievers as needed.

– Numbness: Temporary numbness around the ears and treatment sites may last a few weeks before dissipating fully.

– Restricted activities: Strenuous exercise and activities with a risk of hitting the face should be avoided for 2 weeks. Most normal activities can be resumed within 2-5 days.

Proper post-care and avoiding trauma to the face will help minimise risks and support smooth healing. Follow all your provider’s recommendations diligently after treatment. Your provider will likely schedule follow-up appointments to check your progress and results over time.

Risks and Complications

When performed properly by an experienced surgeon, thread lift risks are low and complications are rare. Still, as with any procedure, there are some possible side effects to consider:

– Infection: Uncommon with proper hygiene standards. Resolved with antibiotics if needed.

Visible sutures: Rarely, sutures may untangle and protrude under the skin, requiring removal.

– Granulomas: Small knots may form around absorbed suture material, treated with steroid injections.

– Need for revision: If results are not satisfactory, sutures can often be adjusted or supplemented.

– Facial nerve injury: Extremely low risk with an experienced injector. Usually resolves fully with time.

– Asymmetry: Slight differences in lift or appearance from one side to the other may occur. Revisions can improve symmetry. 

Consulting with an expert provider ensures maximum safety and aesthetically pleasing outcomes from thread lift treatments. Be sure to follow all post-procedure guidelines to optimise your results.

Seeking Facial Rejuvenation? Consider Thread Lifts

For those troubled by the early signs of facial ageing, thread lifts offer an excellent minimally invasive treatment option. Using strategically placed barbed or smooth sutures, threads can lift sagging cheeks, jowls, neck, and brows for a refreshed look. 

The procedure requires no major surgery, incisions, or downtime. Thread lifts allow most patients to resume normal activities within just 2-5 days. Results appear gradually over months, looking very natural and never tight or overdone. While not as dramatic as a surgical facelift, a thread lift can take a decade off your face without the need for extensive procedures.

Careful patient selection and custom treatment plans yield the best thread lift outcomes. If you are in your 40s-60s and troubled by mild to moderate sagging of the face, discuss thread lifts with a cosmetic surgeon. Surgical intervention may not yet be warranted. For gradual, natural-looking facial rejuvenation, thread lift procedures offer an excellent solution.

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