Thread lifts – Old vs New

Dr. Irwin - what do you think of the new thread lifts? I am 60 and a fan of botox, injectables, sunscreen, good diet/exercise etc, but do not want or need a full facelift (yet). I am getting a tiny bit of jowls and would love to tighten that area and a little pull of the lower face. I value your input!! Diane

For those of you who haven’t heard of these, the idea is that a thick “thread” (really just a large suture) is inserted under the skin. Then it’s anchored to one spot, looped around under the skin, and pulled tight. The end the surgeon is pulling on is then anchored to a second spot under the skin.

Okay… don’t laugh… it’s a little like trussing a turkey, but taking place under the skin where hopefully you don’t see the “threads.” Also, these sutures have little barbs on them which helps them not slip out once in place. These aren’t new though. They been around for 15 years, but slowly evolving. I’ve been watching the evolution of these for awhile. At the conference in Paris (January is cold!!), I go to every year (IMCAS), complications are discussed yearly. The best results I’ve seen were from, interestingly, a talented plastic surgeon in Istanbul (Dr. Tunc Tiryaki). He developed a method using a particular type of threads, which are made by lots of different companies. Combined with stem cell extract from his patients, and his technique with the threads, results were excellent and consistent. So I went to Istanbul in the spring of 2017 and spent several days with him and his team. The only reason our team here in Seattle decided NOT to do this at this time, was that the FDA has not approved stem cells in the U.S. for this use. And the stem cells are important to the Istanbul team’s results.

The problems with thread lifts:

  • The threads can break or not “take” evenly – usually on one side – leaving you lopsided.
  • Many of the threads are very difficult to remove if there is a problem due to the barbs. Have you ever caught barbed wire or a fish hook in your skin? It’s like that.
  • A thread can get infected.
  • They can show under the skin which is a very odd look.
  • They can cause normal facial expressions to feel “odd.”

Bottom Line:

These seem like such a great idea right? Except they really don’t turn out that well much of the time.  Be cautious! Make sure the surgeon or dermatologist has been doing these for at least 3 years, since results are very technique dependent. You don’t want to be in the learning curve of a particular doctor on this one.

Hope this helps, Dr. Irwin

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

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