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What Is A Thread Lift?

Often dubbed the lunchtime facelift, thread lifts do offer an incredible instant result without going under the knife. However, they're an advanced treatment that even medically-qualified aesthetic professionals often don't offer given the training and and expertise needed.

Always consult with a medically qualified aesthetics practitioner before embarking on any cosmetic treatment, find your local practitioner here.

What Is A Thread Lift?

A thread lift is a non-surgical cosmetic procedure that is used to lift and sculpt features on the face. These are HIGHLY specialised treatments that require significant training. Although they're not surgical and do not require general anaesthetic, they are more complex and invasive than the popular treatments, such as Botox and lip fillers, that we tend to associate with non-surgical aesthetics.

A thread lift requires exact placement in the the appropriate tissue plane for achieving optimal results, which continue to improve after absorption of the threads. The common side effects (swelling, bruising etc) usually resolve after a few days, however very severe complications can result from incorrect insertion.

Dr MJ Rowland-Warmann, aesthetic doctor and dentist at Smileworks Liverpool, says they're particularly effective when it comes to the neck area. 'They work by inserting sutures under the skin which tighten and stimulate collagen production, resulting in an immediate lift of the skin but also a long term improvement in firmness and texture.'

How Does The Thread Lift Work?

Temporary sutures, which are made from either polylactic acid (PLA) or polydioxanone (PDO), is inserted into the subcutaneous tissues, approximately 5mm below the skin, using a needle or cannula. The thread will be either barbed or smooth, and is then hooked into place before being trimmed and pulled, tightening the skin in the treated area to give a subtle, taut look. This isn't a Halloween joke and in fairness, is one of those treatments that sounds more hideous than it is (when done by someone who really knows what they're doing!)

Local anaesthetic is given to reduce discomfort. It's worth noting that the threads aren’t noticeable - they sit comfortably below the skin, meaning you won’t feel them and they won’t be seen by anyone. PLA and PDO are resorbable and dissolve over time.

Are these used for the 'fox eye' look?

Yes, the PDO thread lift is the most commonly used technique. The dissolvable threads are inserted under the skin and pulled to lift and stretch the corner of the upper eyelid back towards the temples to create a more almond shape while simultaneously raising the brow tail. Aside from lifting the skin, the thread also stimulates the body’s healing process and initiates collagen production to the treated areas.

Semi-permanent threads use a similar technique to PDO threads. However they have a much higher longevity, as the suture material is prone to degradation by the body with results reported to last between 2-3 years.

It's recently been argued that the Fox Eye Trend is cultural appropriation of Asian features.

What are the main benefits of a thread lift?

Thread lifts have several great benefits: they lift the skin instantly, meaning you’ll notice results straight away, so you’ll see elevated jowls and less sagging in the cheeks and neck area. But they will also continue to do their thing over the next few weeks, following your treatment. They cause fat tissue in the target area to contract, they stimulate cell renewal and they boost collagen, meaning skin is smoother and less wrinkled.

The results generally last between 6 and 18 months, though some people have seen them last up to 3 years. PLA and PDO dissolve naturally within the body, so there is no need for the sutures to be removed.

Who are the ideal candidates for a thread lift?

Thread lifts work well on people aged 30-50, who have started to notice sagging in the skin on their face or neck. As we get older, collagen production reduces, and gravity takes hold, meaning what was once north is very soon south - and areas such as the cheeks, eyebrows, jowls and neck are more often than not the main culprits for giving away our age.

What are the side effects after a thread lift?

After a thread lift treatment, it’s common to experience bruising, soreness, swelling and muscle weakness. Rarer side effects include infection, skin dimpling, scarring or nerve injury and, very rarely, threads can come out of place.

Who can do thread lifts?

Here's the rub. It's difficult for medically-qualified practitioners to train and offer these treatments. There are a number of strict requirements for medics if they want to administer thread lifts. HOWEVER, non-medics (beauty therapists, nail technicians, lay people in general!) do not have to demonstrate the same (or indeed any) level of training, insurance or be CQC/HIS/HIW registered. It's TERRYFYING that so many non medics offer thread lifts. Social media is awash with fox eye/jowl lift/lunchtime facelift adverts from 'beauty therapists' and it's growing. The fact is they're a very advanced procedure that even many medics steer away from.

Lucy Foster from Aesthetics Nurse Lucy says: "I do appreciate the importance of rolling with the times, and keeping up to date with the newest trends and treatments on the block. However, my ethos of keeping my treatments as natural looking as possible for my clients takes stance, and it isn’t something I, personally, would consider offering in-clinic."

Due to the complexity of thread lifts, the treatment should only ever be performed by a medically qualified practitioner.

That said, while thread lifts are not a substitution for the facelift, they are a pretty impressive non-surgical option for anyone concerned by skin sagging, but who's simply not ready - or willing - to go under the knife. If you think it might be for you, find out everything you need to know about the treatment in our thread lift treatment guide and always seek a consultation with a medically qualified professional. Find yours here.

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