Thread Lift is a procedure which involves elevating different parts of the face using special threads without having to make surgical incisions as with a classic face lift. Thread Lift may be marketed under a variety of names including, APTOS®Thread Lift. There are two main types of threads or sutures used: Free floating cogged or barbed threads which do not need to be suspended in order to hold the lift; and smooth or suspension threads which need to be anchored to a stable structure of the face or scalp. This procedure is best suited to patients with mild to moderate sagging of facial tissues, usually those in their mid-thirties to fifties. Thread Lift is usually performed using a local anaesthetic. Recovery is generally quick.
How does a Thread Lift work and what can it treat?
A thread lift can help lift the face without invasive surgery – inserting threads through small punctures to the skin which later become invisible – and can be used anywhere on the face where a gentle lifting is desired.
This procedure is best suited to patients with mild to moderate sagging of facial tissues, usually those in their mid-thirties to fifties. The areas which can be treated with a thread lift include the outer brow, the cheeks, for sagging in the main cheek, naso-labial (nose to mouth) and lower eye areas, the jaw line for jowls, and the neck for sagging skin that is sometimes referred to as “chicken neck”. Most patients will not need all these areas treated at once, although this is possible.
Common areas for treatment in younger patients are the cheeks and brows since they are the first areas of the face to start to sag. As you age the lower half of the face begins to sag as well. If there is a significant amount of redundant or sagging skin, often seen in older patients over sixty, this procedure would not be suitable and a traditional mid-face, face or brow lift operation may be recommended in order to remove the excess skin, therefore achieving a better result
The threads leave virtually no scars, are simple to insert, and have minimal down time.
What happens during a Thread Lift operation?
Your first discussion with a surgeon should set out what you expect from a thread lift and how you would like to look afterwards.
Careful discussions regarding the reasons for wanting a thread lift and your suitability for this type of surgery are very important at this stage. Make sure that you obtain as much information as is possible to help you to make a fully informed choice. The sagging of tissue of your face is then carefully assessed by your surgeon to determine which areas of your face and/or neck are to be treated.
It may be that a thread lift is not the most suitable procedure for you, or that you may need further cosmetic help in addition to the threads in order to achieve the results that you desire.
A medical history should also be taken, to ensure that there are no reasons why you shouldn’t have this procedure. You would normally be asked to sign a consent form at this time which means that you have understood the potential benefits and risks associated with a thread lift.
The surgeon may also wish to write to your G.P. giving details of the procedure, so that if there are any problems associated with it in the short or long-term, your doctor is aware of the procedure and can help you to recover.
Photographs may also be taken by the practitioner, as a “before and after” comparison at a later date. You will most likely be marked with a special pen prior to the treatment, whilst standing up (to get the full effects of gravity), and the pre-operative photographs taken both without the markings and with, in order to facilitate a retrieval of the threads in case that became necessary in the future.
This procedure is usually performed using a local anaesthetic, and you may also be given sedation via an intravenous drip to make you drowsy, so that you remain awake but feel very little discomfort during the operation.
Implantation and positioning of the threads is quick and takes approximately 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the number of areas being treated and the type of threads used.
Suspension or smooth threads
Suspension threads are inserted into the skin using a standard needle, but in order for them to sustain a lift they do need to be attached to the so called “anchoring point”. The anchoring points are stable points of the scalp or face, and they are different for the different areas of the face and body. Therefore, a detailed knowledge of the anatomy is essential in order to know which part would provide a good anchorage for the lift, and it is essential to avoid structures which are going to give way after a while or stretch and deform, therefore reducing the lifting effect. Hence, as far as a practitioner is concerned this is a more technically demanding procedure, requiring some basic surgical skill and knowledge of the anatomy.
One treatment per area is usually all that is required to achieve the desired effect, often with immediate visible results, even more so after about 3 – 4 weeks. However, the results continue to improve over a 3 – 6 month period as your own collagen begins to grow around the threads aiding the lifting effect.
The effects of a thread lift using barbed threads are said to last up to five years.
However it is noted by some experts that the results of the suspension lift are more dramatic than those of the free floating barbed threads, and that they are longer lasting. Whilst the free floating threads have been known to slip and not hold the lift as well, the suspension threads are said to hold the lift for much longer. In the case of non-resorbable sutures this could be for many years until the suture loses its strength. In the case of resorbable sutures usually, after the suture is resorbed into the skin the so called vector of pull is formed, which is really fibrotic (scar) tissue that maintains the lift long after the suture has been reabsorbed.