Everything You Need To Know About Thread Lifts

Photographed by Sarah Harry-Isaacs
In 2021 it's safe to say we're a lot more open-minded when it comes to cosmetic procedures and nonsurgical beauty treatments. Whether you're considering face balancing filler or something else entirely, experts have responded to the increasing demand for tweakments. This is partly down to the 'Zoom boom' (which has magnified insecurities for many), not to mention working from home, which allows a little more time for recovery in private.
In recent months we've seen the 'lip flip' and the nonsurgical nose job rise in popularity. Now there's a new cosmetic procedure on the horizon — and it's set to rival all of the above facial treatments. Introducing: the thread lift.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it goes without saying that opting for any kind of cosmetic procedure is an individual decision — and one we respect at R29. Whether you're personally against them or more open to the idea for whatever reason, it's safer to be armed with the facts about popular and burgeoning new treatments, particularly if you're serious about booking in.

What is a thread lift and what are the results?

Using dissolvable threads which are inserted into the skin using a cannula (a little blunt needle), the thread lift procedure can temporarily alter the shape of certain features, such as lips, nose and eyebrows. It does this by lifting and reshaping. Founder of sas Aesthetics, Dr Mahsa Saleki, performs the procedure in clinic and mainly on patients who are unhappy with the shape of their nose. She says it is more versatile and longer lasting than other nonsurgical rhinoplasty procedures, for example those involving filler.
Dr Saleki explains that there are two types of threads that can be used. These are PDO threads (otherwise known as polydioxanone, a synthetic polymer) and PLL threads (poly-L-lactic acid, a substance used in injectables). Both kinds of threads are placed under the skin using the blunt cannula. "This ensures reduced trauma and likelihood of structural damage to veins, arteries and nerves during the procedure," adds Dr Saleki. The main difference between the two is the longevity of the results. "PDO thread lifts typically last between nine and 12 months whereas PLL threads generally last two or three times longer than that." The threads simply dissolve over time and the treated area will return to its original form.
Thread shape is different, too: either smooth (which Dr Saleki says is better for lips) or affixing. The latter gently pulls skin tissue into place. "Smooth PDO threads can be used to make the lips fuller and build a natural volume that will define the borders and make the shape more pronounced," says Dr Saleki. What about noses? "Once placed under the skin, the sutures are tightened and continue to support the skin to hold the nasal tip in a more lifted position." If you're concerned about the bridge of your nose, rather than the tip, a thread lift may also help. "In some cases with a flat bridge, PDO threads can be used to build and create a nasal bridge that is more defined," says Dr Saleki.
Sagging brows, jawline, jowls and neck are also popular areas which can be treated using threads, according to Dr Saleki.

What does a thread lift feel like and how long does it take?

As the procedure involves some needles, Dr Saleki explains that there is typically a local anaesthetic used to numb the area first. "Once the pain relief has kicked in, in about five to 10 minutes the area will be completely numb," says Dr Saleki. "The patient feels no pain during the treatment, just pressure from the skin being treated." According to Dr Saleki, treatments usually take anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes to perform but this may vary from person to person, depending on skin type and what you're looking to achieve.

How does a thread lift compare to filler?

Dr Saleki says that compared to some dermal fillers, threads can even reduce nose size, including altering the shape of nostrils. "In cases where dermal fillers alone are used, clients tend to complain that they make their nose look bigger, which is why this technique is an ideal alternative." Put simply, you're not adding more volume to the nose, as the threads are near enough invisible. Dr Saleki continues: "Nose lifts tend to better support the dynamic changes of the nasal flare, particularly when smiling. The extra scaffold given to the nose prevents the tip from drooping."

How much does a thread lift procedure cost in the UK and where can you get it?

Dr Saleki is one expert pioneering the treatment in London and says it costs between £400 and £1,500 depending on the area you wish to treat. Prices may vary from clinic to clinic, too.

What do I need to know before booking in for a thread lift and is it safe?

Similar to Botox, the threads are broken down over time. Head to a reputable website like Save Face or the British College of Aesthetic Medicine to locate a trusted and properly qualified practitioner. You may also be able to check your aesthetician's medical credentials on the General Medical Council (GMC) register and it is advised that you look for Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulated clinics, which boast higher safety protocols.
It's fundamental to know that visiting a qualified professional will not protect you entirely from complications so get a contact number (including out of hours) in case you have any queries post-procedure.
As with all aesthetic treatments, from Botox to filler, a consultation is a must to discuss expectations, risks and whether the procedure is the best option for you. It'll help you get a feel for the doctor and it's a good opportunity to ask them about their medical experience and qualifications. Be sure to request before-and-after pictures, too.

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