What is a thread lift?
A thread lift, also called a barbed suture lift, is a cosmetic procedure that aims to lift and sculpt the shape of your face or breasts. Thread lifts use temporary, medical-grade suture material to “stitch-up” your skin so that it’s drawn taut.
Thread lifts have been around since the 1990s, but innovations in the material used for thread lifts have led to an increase in popularity in recent years.
The typical candidate for a thread lift is in their late 30s to early 50s. A person who is generally in good health and is just starting to notice the signs of aging may benefit the most from the subtle impact of a thread lift.
Those who can’t have a surgical facelift because of medical conditions that make general anesthesia risky may consider a thread lift as a safer alternative.
How does a thread lift work?
The thread lift procedure works in two ways.
The first is fairly straightforward. By threading thin, dissolvable sutures underneath your skin, your doctor is able to pull your skin tight around your forehead, neck, or torso.
Invisible, painless “barbs” grab on to your skin and make sure that the thread grips your underlying tissue and muscles as the thread is pulled tight.
Once a barbed thread is inserted, your body’s healing response is triggered. Even though you’re not injured by the threads under your skin, your body detects a suture material and stimulates collagen production in the affected area. Collagen can fill gaps in sagging skin and restore more youthful elasticity to your face.
A small 2017 study suggested that the primary effect of a thread lift procedure is skin appearing tighter and more structured. After a year, this effect begins to decrease as the sutures dissolve. However, there was a secondary “rejuvenation” effect that stayed in place and was noticeable 3 years or more after the procedure.
A 2019 review of the literature concerning thread lifts concluded that more research was needed to understand the long-term effects them, as technology and methods of providing thread lifts continue to evolve.
Thread lift procedure
The procedure for thread lift may be slightly different depending on the area you’re targeting as well as your provider’s preferences. The basic technique is usually the same.
- You’ll be asked to recline in the room where your procedure is being performed. Alcohol, as well as a topical anesthetic, will be applied to your skin as it’s prepped for surgery.
- A thin needle or cannula will be used to insert the threads underneath your skin. Inserting the threads can take 30 to 45 minutes.
- After the threads are inserted, the method of insertion will be removed. You may feel slight pressure or tighten under your skin.
- Within a few minutes of the needles being taken out, your procedure will be complete and you’ll be free to go home.
Targeted areas for a thread lift
Many people choose a thread lift for facial areas that “sag” or look less tight over time. These areas include:
- jowls and jawline
- brow line
- under-eye area
Thread lifts are also used to lift and tighten breasts, especially after pregnancy and weight loss.