[7 min read] Performing a thread lift in primary care

Minimally invasive procedures have revolutionised aesthetic medicine in recent decades. Treatments such as anti-wrinkle injections and dermal filler injections have significantly reduced the need for surgery. They also made it possible for practitioners in primary care to provide anti-ageing services.

However, these treatments mainly address issues such as fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of volume. They are ineffective against more drastic ageing signs, such as drooping cheeks, jowls, and other issues with skin laxity.

 

Overview

Facelift surgery remains the best skin-tightening solution. For those looking to avoid skin trauma and hospital stay, there is another option: thread lifts.

The procedure does not involve cutting or skin removal. It effectively “lifts” the skin, simulating a surgical facelift. The technique is simple and, with adequate training, most general practitioners could perform thread lifts with confidence.

 

What are thread lifts?

The procedure uses tiny medical-grade threads. These are inserted in the skin of the face and pulled to provide a facelift effect.

Thread lifts produce a visible but not a radical skin “lift”. The technique relies on small sutures to pick-up the skin in designated areas. The initial improvement is subtle, but the effects of treatment do not end there.

Pulling on the inserted threads tightens the skin, but it also provokes collagen production in the treated area. Collagen improves the general condition of the skin. It strengthens and adds volume to the skin, boosting the overall effect of thread lifts.

 

Who should consider thread lifts?

Anyone with age-related skin laxity issues is a good candidate for the procedure. These are usually individuals in their thirties and older.

Additionally, thread lifts are a quality facelift option for people looking to avoid surgical procedures or those who cannot undergo general anaesthesia.

Thread lifts address saggy skin in all parts of the face. These include:

  • Forehead
  • Brow line
  • Under-eye area
  • Cheeks
  • Jawline

For women, thread lifts are also an effective non-surgical breast tightening solution.

 

The procedure

The procedure is simple and usually doesn’t take longer than 45 minutes. There are seven easy steps:

  1. Mark the areas where you will insert the threads.
  2. Sterilise the patient’s face using an antiseptic solution (alcohol).
  3. Inject the local anaesthetic at the cannula insertion site.
  4. Insert the cannula to create a pathway for the threads inside the skin.
  5. Apply more local anaesthetic in the pathway using the retrograde technique.
  6. Insert the threads.
  7. Pull to create the desired “lift”.

 

Materials

Thread lifts do not require the use of expensive equipment. The usual primary care setting provides adequate conditions for the procedure.

The necessary materials include:

  • Topical antiseptic
  • Local anaesthetic
  • Syringe and needle
  • Appropriate size cannula
  • Medical-grade threads (PDO, PLLA, or PCL)

 

Side effects

Thread lifts are a minimally-invasive aesthetic procedure with a low risk of side effects or complications.

Common side effects come from the micro-trauma resulting from inserting the threads and suturing. These side effects include:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Low-level pain
  • Bleeding at the injection site

Complications are rare. They range from easily fixable ones, such as dimpling, to more severe complications such as allergic reactions and infections.

 

Outcomes

There is no need for a hospital stay after the procedure. The recovery time is minimal, usually with slight swelling and bruising at the injection site.

The effects of the “lift” are immediately visible. They become more apparent as the healing process progresses and the swelling and bruising subside.

However, the aesthetic results are temporary. They last between one and three years. There is no need to extract the threads as they get absorbed by the surrounding tissue over time.


Learn more with the Certificate Courses in Aesthetic Medicine

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References:

Atiyeh BS, Chahine F, Ghanem OA. Percutaneous Thread Lift Facial Rejuvenation: Literature Review and Evidence-Based Analysis. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2021 Jan 20. doi: 10.1007/s00266-020-02095-1. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33471152.

Kim J, Zheng Z, Kim H, Nam KA, Chung KY. Investigation on the Cutaneous Change Induced by Face-Lifting Monodirectional Barbed Polydioxanone Thread. Dermatol Surg. 2017 Jan;43(1):74-80. doi: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000000925. PMID: 27748691.

Ahn SK, Choi HJ. Complication After PDO Threads Lift. J Craniofac Surg. 2019 Jul;30(5):e467-e469. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0000000000005644. PMID: 31299818.

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