Even as surgical science improves, healing processes grow easier and scarring becomes minimal, no surgery can truly promise a blemish-free result. Indeed, as medical science improves across the board, it is increasingly the case that surgery is a last-ditch resort, rather than the sole solution. For years facelifts have been the dominating surgical procedure in improving facial firmness and elasticity, and for those hesitant to go under the knife there has been little alternative that promises the same result.
But what if that was no longer the case? What if it was now possible to get a facelift result without surgery, without downtime, and without scarring? Dermal fillers, of course, are an option, but with dermal fillers comes an increase in facial volume that might not be desirable to all patients, and only the promise of a temporary fix. Fillers have just found themselves a new competitor for facial rejuvenation: threads.
Now thread lifts might be something you’ve heard of before. Facial threading procedures are not necessarily brand new, per se – thread lifts were introduced, in fact, in the 1990s – but as a reasonably new science one can expect that they’ve undergone a lot of changes, come under a lot of scrutiny, and gradually been refined into what is now a quick, easy, and sophisticated procedure. So quick and easy, in fact, that thread lifting procedures have been called the ‘lunch-hour lift’ or the ‘one stitch facelift’.
But what exactly is the science behind the procedure? It’s not quite as simple as pulling out the wrinkles with a piece of string. At Define, we were fortunate enough to have Dr. Kam Lally, a certified MINT threads expert and experienced practitioner of the art of thread lifting, come in to show us the ropes (or shall we say the ‘threads’) when it comes to thread lifting procedures.
To understand how thread lifts work, and how they help, Dr Lally tells us, it’s important to understand facial anatomy, and what causes the ageing look. Our bodies produce two vital proteins, collagen and elastin, which form the structure of our skin and keep it looking firm and youthful. But as we grow older, the time it takes for the body to produce these proteins slows, and the skin loses its elasticity and sags, particularly in the heavier parts of the face. All of this contributes to an older, more tired look – deep smile lines, drooping jowls and sunken cheeks.
“Threads effectively reposition atrophied tissue,” Dr Lally says, “and restore lengthened tissues to a smaller size, while returning them to their original positioning.” And the best part is, as the threads hold these tissues in place, the body will produce collagen around them that will support this repositioning even after the threads have dissolved, so it’s a procedure that lasts.
But you don’t have to wait for dissolution to see your results. Results are instant, and with almost no downtime, you can start showing them off straight away. Full dissolution takes between 6-9 months, “but the collagen produced will last years,” Dr Lally says, “meaning results last.”
Why threads over filler? Threads alter your face shape without adding volume, Dr Lally says, so there’s no risk of over-volumising as there is with fillers, and the lasting effects of collagen production mean that thread results will endure beyond the typical expiration date of filler results. Plus, in much the same way as filler, threads are a minimally invasive procedure, so patients who don’t like the sound of surgery needn’t fret.
Does it hurt?
This is the question on everyone’s lips as Dr Lally explains the procedure to us, and the first that is asked when he invites us to interrupt with our queries. The immediate response is no, it doesn’t. Patients are locally anaesthetised beforehand, as with any procedure, but MINT have gone one step further. The cannulas they use to administer the thread are designed in such a way that a syringe could be attached to the end, and additional anaesthesia can be administered during the procedure, according to patient needs. Patient comfort has been considered at every step of the way. That said, it is a remarkably quick procedure – the actual thread administration (aka the potentially uncomfortable part) typically only takes about 7 to 8 minutes.
What are the risks? Is it safe?
There aren’t a great many. The threads are placed relatively superficially – in the subcutaneous fat layer that sits just beneath the skin – so they don’t go deep enough to risk touching anything important. In fact, there is not a single case in the UK where a patient has had a facial artery damaged during a threading procedure. Dr Lally calls it a “complete mindset change to using filler, because the worst you’ll do is cause a big bruise.”
Moreover, the risk of a thread breaking is incredibly low. MINT designs their threads to be able to withstand whatever tension is placed on them – rather than other brands of thread, which make cut directly into their threads to create the small barbs that hold them in place, thereby creating a lot of points of weakness along the thread, MINT bond individual barbs along the surface of the thread, achieving the same hold without compromising the structural integrity of the product. They are proud to boast that they have never had a thread break.
MINT threads are made of a material called PDO – which is short form for polydioxanone – a complex sugar and entirely safe suture material that has been used in orthopaedic and cardiovascular surgeries for more than three decades, and the safety of MINT threads has been backed by over 6 years of published studies. It is the first and only suture to have FDA clearance for nasolabial fold depth reduction (smile lines, in layman’s terms).
What’s recovery like? Is there downtime?
Any dimples, puckers, or points of obvious tension in the face that arise during treatment can be massaged out once the thread is in place, and all signs that the threads are there settle within 2 weeks. Even immediately after the threads are placed they are nearly impossible to see. Dr Lally advises a modest recovery routine: no high impact exercise for at least a week, avoid the sun, wash your face plenty, and avoid what he calls “big foods”, e.g. anything that you have to open wide for.
As with all treatments, it’s ont a one-size-fits-all fix. Too much facial fat, or too little, may make you unsuitable, or if you choose to go ahead with the treatment may produce a more modest result. Moreover, threads are not recommended for patients with badly damaged skin, or skin conditions such as eczema. The decision to treat is always made on an individual, case-by-case basis, so please do book in for a consultation to discuss your options if you’re unsure.
So, what are you waiting for?
We’re excited to say we are accepting bookings right now for thread lift consultations. As with all our consultations, there is no obligation to progress to treatment, so why not come along to find out if a thread lift is for you? Pop on down to our Beaconsfield