What to Expect During a Threading Facelift Treatment

During the actual thread lift, Sunder says patients should expect for the treatment area to be cleansed, assessed, and marked as to where the threads will be placed. Once finalized, topical numbing cream will be applied and/or injectable local anesthesia is placed. 

“The threads are then inserted,” she says. “Some types of threads have a ‘tail’ that need to be cut off once the tissues have engaged with the thread. Other types of threads are inserted using a sort of introducer, which is then removed as the thread is then pushed into place.” Once all threads are placed, the treated area is cleaned gently and the patient can return to relatively normal activities for the day but should refrain from strenuous activity.

The entire treatment takes about an hour. 

Threading Facelift vs. Classic Facelift

The biggest difference between threading facelifts and surgical facelifts is that thread lifts are non-invasive and the results are temporary, given thread lift effects only last for three to nine months on average. “There is no equivalence between a thread lift and a facelift,” Shafer says. “Threads are a temporary treatment for a localized issue and are static structures anchoring issues. Unfortunately, despite claims otherwise, threads have a very short clinic effect. The threads are also static and don't stretch or accommodate to natural movements of the face. Threads have short-term monetary savings, but long term it can be quite costly due to repeat treatments.”

Shafer says that a classic facelift, on the other hand, gives dramatic, natural, and long-lasting results. “Facelift does have more investment upfront in terms of recovery and cost, but spread out over a decade or so of the longevity of results, it's actually a savings over thread lift,” he adds. “Unfortunately, some people fall victim to the marketing of thread lifts or get confused since the term ‘facelift’ is sometimes used interchangeably. They save up a couple thousand dollars to pay for a thread lift and are expecting long-term facelift results.”

Shafer isn’t the only one who shares this view, though. “All plastic surgeons and dermatologists will agree that thread lifts, honestly, do not compare to facelifts,” Sunder says. “Facelifts rely on entire muscle or fascial planes being lifted and repositioned, while the skin is also lifted and redraped. This extensive lifting cannot be replicated by a few threads, especially ones that are free-floating like the ones used in thread lifts. So, if someone needs a facelift, they will be sorely disappointed with the thread lift results.”

While Few also agrees that facelift remains the gold standard, he also developed a unique thread lifting technique, called Inverso Suspension which has its own benefits. “It is a non-surgical treatment to incorporate non-surgical thread lifting with the restoration of lost volume in the jawline with Micro BotoxⓇ (or Xeomin) to the frown muscles of the mouth to create a graceful appearance that is not “done” or unnatural in nature,” he explains. “The results of this approach may last two years or more and in many patients produce facelift-like outcomes without surgery.”

Potential Side Effects

The most obvious side effect of threading facelifts is that the threads can actually be visible if they are placed too superficially or if the patient’s skin is super thin. “There is also the possibility of bunching of the skin as the skin is pulled, but the excess skin can't be removed or redraped as it can be done with a surgical facelift,” Shafer says. “Also, the threads are static and not dynamic which has the potential to affect normal animation.”

Then there’s the chance of infection. “Both with permanent and temporary threads, there have been reports of infection, foreign body reaction, suture extrusion (where the suture comes out of the skin), and puckering of the skin,” Sunder says. “There are also reports of prolonged pain or discomfort with permanent thread lifts.”

The Cost

While it depends on the treatment area and the geographic location of the office, Shafer says that the price of a threading facelift can cost between $2,000 and $12,000. “Patients really need to consider the price given that the effects are short-lived and need to be repeated,” he says. “Multiple treatments with threads can quickly add up to more than a traditional facelift surgery.”

Aftercare

As with any minimally invasive cosmetic treatment, Shafer says that ice is recommended to minimize bruising and swelling. “We also recommend sleeping with the head elevated and on your back to prevent any pressure on your face from sleeping on your side,” he adds. “This is a good recommendation in general for anyone wanting to reduce wrinkles and asymmetry in their face.”

Additionally, Sunder says that patients should refrain from washing or even touching the treatment area for at least 24 hours. “After that, very gentle cleansing of the face is allowed,” she says. “There should be no vigorous rubbing of the face or massaging the face for two to three weeks following treatment, so as to limit the chances of the suture dislodging or losing its grip.”

She also says that strenuous exercises should be limited for one to two weeks. “The activity limitations are much stricter for the lifting type threads as opposed to the solely collagen-stimulating ones,” she notes.

The Final Takeaway

While thread lifts can provide an immediately lifted appearance, Shafer says that, thanks to their short-lived results, they’re best for folks looking to spruce up their appearance for a big event, rather than for someone hoping for long-lasting effects. Even then, he says to proceed with caution, as other, better options exist.

“I would recommend patients see a board-certified plastic surgeon when considering face lifting procedures,” he adds. “For non-plastic surgeons, their only tool is the threads. When you only have one tool, then you can only recommend one solution. As a board-certified plastic surgeon, the tool bucket has many options from non-invasive injections, to minimally invasive threads to a full-on facelift surgery. The right procedure depends on the patient's goals and expectations as well as their anatomy, timeline, and budget.”

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