As people age, their skin tends to lose its elasticity. That means individuals might start seeing some sagging around the jawline or notice some drooping in their cheeks. In the past, the primary way to address issues like this would be with a surgical facelift. Thanks to the evolution of thread lift procedures, there are now minimally invasive alternatives to help patients looking for a facial rejuvenation boost. This option is not only more affordable but offers similar results with less recovery time.
What is a thread lift procedure?
A thread lift procedure involves placing temporary sutures around the face that visibly lift the skin. Unlike a facelift, where a surgeon removes portions of a patient's skin, the skin gets suspended and held in place. That allows for a tightening and lifting of the face.
A thread lift procedure helps provoke a healing response in the patient. The body starts producing large quantities of collagen to aid in healing the affected areas. Collagen is essential to supporting growth factors that help improve the condition of our skin.
In addition to healing wounds, collagen makes the skin stronger and more supple. People produce less collagen as they age, which causes skin thickness to decline by up to 80% by 70. That lost volume contributes to the appearance of wrinkles and excess skin that cause us to look older.
Patients who undergo a thread lift procedure should see continued improvement in the firmness and tone of their skin over time. Individuals typically don't feel the sutures after the skin around them heals. Other benefits of a thread lift procedure vs. a traditional facelift include:
- Minimal risk of scarring
- Lack of apparent bruising
- Little bleeding around the sutures
What are the different thread types for thread lift procedures?
There's been an evolution of new devices, materials, and techniques used in thread lift procedures. These advancements have helped increase the popularity of thread lift procedures over non-surgical cosmetic options. There are three classifications of thread used for thread lifts.
Mono threads are smooth and contain no barbs. Surgeons typically apply them to the face in a mesh-like pattern. That helps with skin tightening and enhances collagen production around the sutures. Plastic surgeons often use mono thread around the neck, forehead, and underneath a patient's eyes. They function as an anchor point beneath the skin. This thread class is effective for tightening but doesn't work nearly as well for lifting.
Screw or tornado threads are typically one or two threads wrapped together around the needle used in thread lift procedures. They are very effective at lifting a patient's skin and adding volume.
Cog threads closely resemble mono threads. The biggest differentiator is that the barbs in a cog thread are designed to hook underneath the skin. The barbs are usually cut or molded to the tread and act as a support structure to help lift loose tissue. One advantage a surgeon gains by using cog thread is there's no need to create anchoring points.
What materials are used to create thread lift sutures?
Polydioxanone, or PDO thread, is the original type used with thread lift procedures. Surgeons have used the material since the 1980s. The fabric consists of colorless polyester designed to break down in the body after six to 12 months. Once the body absorbs the thread, the material continues stimulating the production of skin-boosting collagen for up to 12 months.
Studies have noted how PDO threads educe the look of apparent pores and fine wrinkles. In addition, the collagen-induced by PDO thread helps thicken the papillary dermis.
Poly-L-Lactic Acid (PLLA) threads help produce more collagen for the skin when compared to PDO threads. Another advantage PLLA threads maintain over PDO is that they last for up to two years and then break down into substances like glucose and water that don’t harm the body.
Some plastic surgeons use PLLA thread as an alternative to using fillers or neurotoxins like BotoxⓇ. The thread functions as a volumizer to stimulate collagen Types 1 (found in skin, ligaments, tendons, and bones) and 3 (found in cartilage). In addition, PLLO threads cause very little inflammation around the suture site while delivering excellent results.
While not as common as PLLA, polycaprolactone (PCL) threads create stronger, more complex bonds. Because of that, the PCL thread can last for up to two years before dissolving. That slower degradation rate helps it remain in surrounding tissue for longer and provides patients with longer-lasting results.
Another benefit to using PCL thread is that it stimulates more collagen than PDO or PLLA thread. After PCL thread dissolves, it turns into a non-toxic compound and continues encouraging additional collagen production for another year.
Who is a good candidate for thread lift procedures?
Ideal candidates for thread lift procedures tend to be people with interest in facial rejuvenation who have reservations about undergoing plastic surgery. They may be starting to show a few signs of aging with some slackness to the skin or wrinkles around the mouth and nose. The age range for patients interested in thread lift procedures ranges from 30 to 55.
Keep in mind that some patients may be better suited for specific materials and techniques. All candidates for thread lift procedures should be healthy. In addition, medical providers should educate them about the expected outcomes, so they start the process with realistic expectations.
PDO thread candidates
Individuals best suited for a PDO thread lift may be looking to avoid any signs of aging. Their main concerns are often centered around making the skin tighter and improving loose skin texture, including around the neck. PDO thread works well on men and women in their 30s or older. They typically have mild to moderate jowls or fine lines showing on their cheeks.
PDO threads are effective on both the face and the body. It helps rebuild the border of a patient’s lip or even reduces the appearance of fine lines around the eyes. Medical providers can also use PLO thread to help patients looking to enhance their eyebrow arch or restore the “V” look to their face.
PLLA thread candidates
Patients best suited for a PLLA thread lift may have some visible signs of aging like sagging skin or mild to moderate appearance of wrinkles. It's not suitable for use on pregnant women or those currently breastfeeding. In addition, medical providers typically recommend not performing a PLLA thread lift on the following groups:
- Women who are pregnant
- Women currently breastfeeding
- People prone to keloid scarring
- Individuals who often contract skin infections
- People with open wounds or skin lesions
- Patients dealing with an autoimmune disease
PCL thread candidates
A PCL thread lift is ideal for people experiencing loose skin around their jawline, nose, and eyes. It also helps with loose skin around the neck. Providers typically recommend the procedure to individuals in their thirties or older who may be searching for longer-lasting results and more collagen production. They're also suitable for patients who may be prone to experiencing discomfort during medical procedures.
There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to a thread lift. Providers should ensure that patients who go to them for help have various choices. For that reason, it's a good idea for medical providers to incorporate different thread lift types into their menu of services.
The overall goal is to make patients feel comfortable about any option they choose for facial rejuvenation. Allow patients the space to voice any concerns, then provide them with the details needed to make an informed choice. Educating patients in-depth about the pros and cons of various thread lift procedures goes a long way toward helping them to feel comfortable with their final decision.
To learn more about how to incorporate thread lifts and other medical aesthetics treatments into your own practice, reach out to a Portrait specialist.