What Is a Threading Face Lift and Is It Right for You?

threading face lift

People can’t help but notice the subtle appearance of wrinkles as they age. Women are often the first to notice any change to the shape of their cheeks, jowls, or other areas of the face as well as any changes to the shape of their breasts. Why do these changes happen at all? Gaining a deeper understanding of why your dermal tissue changes over time can also help you develop better skincare methods moving forward. It's important to understand how your skin ages before exploring traditional facelift options such as cosmetic and medical procedures

Understanding Your Skin 

Your skin is also known as dermal tissue and happens to be the largest organ of your body. It is comprised of three layers. The outermost layer is called the epidermis. The middle layer is referred to as the dermis and the innermost layer is called the hypodermis. 

The epidermis is made up of multiple layers of skin cells and is the toughest layer of skin, as it serves to protect your body from the elements. Because this layer is constantly exposed to the elements, i.e. wind, rain, UV exposure as well as contact with fabrics, everyday chemicals, etc. it goes through a natural and healthy shedding and regeneration process. As the epidermis sheds dead skin cells, it regenerates with healthy ones. This outermost layer of skin is also where the melanin is located. Melanin is a substance responsible for producing skin pigmentation, which, depending on the amount present in your epidermis, is what determines your skin tone. The more melanin your body produces, the darker your skin is. The less melanin present, the lighter your skin is. The amount of melanin present in your epidermis is also what determines how your skin will react to sun and UV exposure.

The dermis is thicker and made up of fibrous and elastic tissue. This middle layer is what provides strength and flexibility to your skin. It contains the nerves and blood vessels that aid in healthy blood circulation throughout your dermal tissue. It is where the sebum is produced. Sebum is a natural oil that the body’s sebaceous glands produce. This substance is what helps keep your skin and hair moisturized. Sebum provides a protective barrier so your skin doesn’t constantly dry out. 

The hypodermis is made of natural fats and is the connective tissue attached to your muscles and bones. This innermost layer is a thick part of your dermal tissue that cushions and protects your body from daily accidents, such as bumping into furniture, slipping, tripping, or falling. The hypodermis is responsible for insulating your body while regulating the body’s temperature. Researching healthy ways of eliminating the signs the aging without causing damage to any of these layers is integral to overall skin health, especially as you age. 

Head shot of happy joyful Black girl touching face in bathroom,

Collagen and Aging Skin 

The body’s ability to produce rich amounts of collagen diminish as we age. Collagen is a type of fiber-like protein that is used in all the connective tissues of the body. Its rich production is what contributes to the elasticity and resilience of the skin. A lack of collagen production will affect your dermal tissues’ strength and ability to stretch. This is what leads to wrinkles. The tight, fiber-like proteins are no longer as tight. Over time, the thickness of the collagen is reduced too. All these changes play a role in how our skin responds to aging.

What factors contribute to the slowed production of collagen? Some factors have been found to contribute to reduced collagen production, including: 

  • Excessive UV or sun exposure

  • Lack of sleep

  • Excessive alcohol consumption

  • Smoking tobacco

  • Insufficient or lack of exercise

  • Exposure to skin damaging chemicals

  • Gravity resulting in loose skin

  • Stress

With continued advancements in dermal care research and anti-aging products, there’s no reason people can’t age gracefully. Contrary to popular belief, surgery isn’t the only method of slowing the aging process. Aside from popular skin firming products, less invasive procedures are gaining more attention, especially considering the differences in cost and recovery time. If you are considering a face lift without major surgery, then learn more about a threading face lift and whether it's the right method for you.

What Is a Threading Face Lift? 

A threading face lift is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure. It’s not the same as getting surgery to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, and the normal wear and tear of aging skin. A threading face lift is an alternative procedure to facelift surgery. 

The goal of a threading face lift is to tighten your skin by using medical-grade suture material. This material is inserted into your skin and pulled to help tighten specific areas of the face. A threading face lift is sometimes referred to as a barbed suture lift. The main goal is to help lift the skin, promoting a more sculpted look. This procedure is often used on the face and breasts. A threading face lift utilizes a temporary, medical-grade thread to essentially stitch your skin, safely tightening it, until it’s tauter. 

A threading face lift is also referred to as a PDO thread face lift. PDO stands for polydioxanone, which is a special medical-grade thread comprised of protein and is thinner than hair. It is a biodegradable polyester suture, which means it can safely dissolve in your body. PDO threads are known to relax the tendons and muscles while improving blood flow. When this is inserted into your skin to help tighten certain areas, what is happening is the threading is promoting blood flow to these areas. Thanks to the thread facelift, more blood flow to certain parts of the skin helps stimulate the formation of new collagen. It’s this process that helps improve the appearance of the skin, giving it that firm, youthful appearance. 

As soon as the barbed thread is injected beneath the skin, your body will think it’s sustained an injury. Whenever this happens, a healing response is triggered. In this case, the body begins to produce collagen in the parts of the face or torso where the threading is located. This is the correct response to a threading face lift. More collagen production means your skin will gain the elasticity it once had as it becomes more firm. 

woman face wrinkles after treatment, thread lifting

How Does the Threading Face Lift Procedure Work?

The way a threading face lift works is your doctor will thread ultra-thin, dissolvable sutures just beneath the skin. From there, they will gently pull the sutures, tightening the skin around the targeted areas. The sutures have small, undetectable barbs that help to grab at the dermal tissue, gripping it. These barbs help to pull the dermal tissues and muscles until the skin appears tauter. Don't be worried about the barbs as the threading material used is still considered smooth threads.

The step-by-step procedure begins when the doctor or licensed skin care professional uses a topical anesthetic on the areas of skin that must be prepped for this cosmetic surgery. They use an ultra-thin needle, sometimes in tandem with a cannula. A cannula is a very thin tube that they can insert into your body, which will help them with inserting the threads beneath your skin. This process typically takes less than an hour. Once the threading sutures are in, the needles or cannula are subsequently removed. Once the methods of inserting the threads are removed, so begins the collagen-producing process. During and immediately following the procedure, don’t be surprised if you feel your skin tightening where the threads are located. You may also feel a little pressure at the injection sites. 

Vector Illustrated set with face lifting surgery by thread

What Areas Does the Threading Face Lift Target?

People seeking to reverse the signs of aging by undergoing a threading face lift typically focus on certain areas of their face or torso that are sagging or looking less elastic. The most common targeted areas for this cosmetic treatment are: 

  • Forehead

  • Brow line

  • Under-the-eye area

  • Cheeks

  • Jawline

  • Neck or jowls

  • Breasts

How Do You Prepare for a Threading Face Lift?

Once you have consulted with your doctor and scheduled the procedure, make sure that you let your healthcare provider know about any medications you are taking. They may ask that you abstain, if possible, from any medicines or foods that can cause inflammation before the cosmetic surgery. They usually recommend that one week before your surgery you avoid blood thinning medicines and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). For example, ibuprofen, high-dose aspirin, or naproxen sodium such as Aleve, are all NSAIDs to avoid in the days leading up to your procedure. 

Stress can cause inflammation, which can complicate the surgery. You should avoid stressors at least a couple of days before your procedure, especially 24 hours beforehand.  Alcohol can also act as a blood thinner and excessive alcohol use can cause systemic inflammation throughout the body. As with any surgery, no matter how minor, it is highly recommended that you avoid alcohol the night before and often the days leading up to a surgical procedure. 

woman holding up hands to turn down a glass of wine

What Is the Recovery Time of a Threading Face Lift?

Since a PDO thread lift is considered a minimally invasive procedure, recovery time varies between patients. Although there is some swelling and bruising following the procedure, it doesn’t require you having to miss work or other important calendar dates. It's one reason why some people can schedule the procedure during their lunch break and get back to work right after. 

Medical experts and facelift surgeons in this field recommend you avoid sleeping on any part of your face, as this could interfere with the suture placements. Sleeping with your head propped up, and facing upward is recommended for the first few weeks post-procedure. They also suggest you avoid any facial moisturizers for several weeks until the injection sites fully heal. Other activities to avoid when recovering from a threading face lift include intense workouts, hot tubs, swimming pools, saunas, and other cosmetic procedures. 

The facelift is often noticeable immediately following the threading process. The results become more prominent once the swelling goes down and the bruising fully heals. An intriguing fact about a threading face lift is your face will have that firmer, tighter appearance for anywhere between one to three years. Just remember, this cosmetic surgery is only temporary and there are no guarantees that the results will be noticeable after the first year. 

Is a Threading Face Lift Right for You?

It’s always recommended that you speak with your dermatologist or medical care provider regarding any procedures, including cosmetic surgeries. Adults, usually around their late 30s to late 50s who are in good health are the typical candidates for a threading face lift. 

Fortunately, there are other methods of gaining more youthful-looking skin when you want to avoid any minor or major surgery. Facelift masks and similar products are gaining momentum as the go-to option for women looking to fight the signs of aging. If you aren’t completely sure that a threading face lift procedure is the right choice for you, consider the variety of facelift products currently available. 

Are There Any Risks or Side Effects of a Threading Face Lift?

Consulting with your skincare professional before committing to any cosmetic skin procedure should be the first step when exploring facelift options. A PDO thread lift is considered a low-risk procedure with a quick healing period. Although the recovery time is minimal, there is a low risk of possible side effects or complications. Review them with your medical professional before committing to any procedure. 

Following a threading face lift, it's not abnormal to experience some bleeding, bruising, swelling, or minor pain at the sit of the threading injection. Approximately 20 percent of patients may experience some complications from a barbed suture lift. These complications are considered minor, which means your medical professional will have the proper treatment for them should any of them occur. 

Possible side-effects include visible dimpling or pulling of your skin, usually where the threads were injected. An allergic reaction may occur due to the ingredients of the suture threading material. More than average bleeding could result from any buildup beneath the skin. Discomfort or pain under your skin could be a side-effect of the thread being too tight or placed in an uncomfortable area. Lumps or bulges in the skin may occur if the thread accidentally moves. 

Lastly, if infection occurs at the site of the procedure, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Signs of infection may include discoloration or discharge at the site of the thread injection. Swelling that lasts longer than 48 hours, fever, or constant headaches can also be symptoms of infection. 

Doctor examining senior man face before cosmetic surgery on white background

Differences Between a Threading Face Lift and Facelift Surgery

Anesthesia and recovery time are the two main factors when comparing a threading face lift or PDO thread lift to facelift surgery. Facelift surgery is considered major surgery whereas PDO thread lift is considered less invasive with a shorter healing period. 

When looking into facelift surgery or plastic surgery, it’s important to note the list of possible complications is much longer when compared to thread lift treatment. The potential risks from facelift surgery include, but aren’t limited to, scarring, infection, nerve damage, major hematomas, fluid buildup (seroma), blood loss, and adverse reactions to anesthesia. 

What Is the Average Cost of a Threading Face Lift?

The cost of a threading face lift varies based on your specific needs, where you live, and the experience of your medical professional or plastic surgeon. The savings between a threading face lift cosmetic procedure and a facelift surgery is quite significant. You can save around 40 percent by choosing a PDO thread lift procedure as opposed to plastic surgery. The average cost usually ranges between two or three thousand dollars. 

This cost is also dependent upon what parts of your face or body you are focusing on. For instance, the price will increase if you are targeting your forehead, neck, eyebrows, and under your eyes. Because a PDO thread lift procedure can be used for breast augmentation or lifting the breasts, adding this procedure will also be reflected in the overall cost. A threading face lift doesn’t require anesthesia, which is often a costly section of the overall bill for facelift surgery. 

face contour lifting procedure. needle with mesothreads near the female face

Lasting Benefits of a Threading Face Lift

A PDO thread facelift is minimally invasive with a quick healing period. The thread lift treatment is so low-maintenance that doctors state you can get the cosmetic procedure done while on your lunch break. A commonly asked question is how long does a threading face lift last? Although this facelift isn’t permanent, it can last for one to three years. This is because the PDO suture is biodegradable, eventually breaking down as they get absorbed by the body. 

As with any procedure, no matter how minor, it is always a good idea to educate yourself on all the factors involved. Be sure to address any concerns with your skincare specialist as you look into non-invasive facelift options. If you are too worried about potential risks, be sure to consider reliable non-surgical facelift choices such as skin firming products. From different facelift masks to collagen supplements and everything in-between, your doctor can help you decide what the best options are for aging skin. 

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