Thread Lifts: The “Facelift” Option that Won’t Die
Can you still get a thread lift in New York? Apparently, you can. It’s the “facelift alternative” that just won’t die, or rather; it keeps getting reincarnated with a new name. We’ve known it as the Lifestyle Lift, the Lunchtime Lift and the Stitch Lift, and as long as people seek a facial rejuvenation option that costs less and involves a shorter downtime than a traditional facelift, the thread lift may continue to be reborn.
To be fair, as reported in a recent edition of the New York Post, the thread lift in its current form may be a bit more effective, or at least pose fewer risks, than previous procedures. It has been cleared by the FDA, and the polydioxanone (PDO) sutures are safe and barb-free. When we wrote about some of the former iterations of the thread lift a few years ago, people who tried them were still suffering lumps, lopsided skin and unsightly scarring. This new PDO thread lift option may minimize those complications.
Nevertheless, we will join most other board certified plastic surgeons in declining to offer any version of the thread lift to our New York facelift patients. Read on to learn more about why.
Beneath the Surface
In our last blog post about rejuvenating the lower face, we mentioned a term that sounds a bit technical: the superficial musculoaponeurotic system, or SMAS. It’s helpful to understand that the SMAS forms a critical part of the foundation of the face. An article in Aesthetic Plastic Surgery several years ago defined the SMAS as “one continuous, organized fibrous network connecting the facial muscles with the dermis.” It’s made up of collagen and elastin fibers and fat cells.
In a traditional facelift, a plastic surgeon loosens (or undermines) surface skin in order to elevate the SMAS and stitch it into place. He or she will then lift and re-drape the skin, eliminate the excess and place sutures around and behind the ears. Because structures beneath the skin sag over time—not just surface tissues—best results are achieved when everything is lifted. This is why most plastic surgeons still consider the facelift to be the gold standard of rejuvenation. Plastic surgeons adjust the procedure according to the specific needs of the patient, but some undermining and lifting is almost always done.
All versions of the thread lift use sutures to lift just the skin. Physicians who offer the procedure say that results can be striking and last up to two years. In the experience of many plastic surgeons who are active on sites like RealSelf, that’s the very best scenario. Think of it this way: lifting just the skin is like smoothing a bedspread over a wrinkled blanket. Or spreading creamy frosting over a cake with an uneven surface. We join with one RealSelf plastic surgeon who noted he had seen more dissatisfied than happy patients who tried a thread lift option.
Who Performs Thread Lifts
It’s interesting to note that the doctors who commented favorably about the PDO thread lift in the New York Post are both dermatologists. We respect the work of board certified dermatologists and occasionally refer patients to a few when appropriate. But, if they consult a dermatologist about facial rejuvenation, we strongly suggest that patients see at least one board certified plastic surgeon as well.
The crux of the matter is this: a board certified plastic surgeon with many years of facial plastic surgery experience will have dozens of procedures and techniques they can employ. Patients with moderate aging may discover they would be best served with a mid facelift and a chemical peel. Patients with a tired, gloomy appearance may benefit most from a forehead lift, eyelid lift and facial fillers. Those who suffer from marked aging may need “the works”: a facelift, neck lift, eyelid lift and forehead lift. The point is, the choices and combinations are almost unlimited.
A dermatologist, on the other hand, has fewer options to offer. No matter how talented and skilled they may be, their training and expertise are related to the skin. Most perform surface treatment plus fillers and Botox, and some offer thread lifts under local anesthesia. A few venture into some surgical procedures (for which they may or may not have much training). Generally speaking, it’s a limited menu.
We perform facial rejuvenation for many men and women monthly—each procedure as unique as the patient. From surgery to a small injection, it’s a pleasure to tailor our work to the physical needs, lifestyle and budget of each person, without limitations.
Contact us for a no-obligation consultation today!