Is it possible to have a face lift procedure that is carried out without surgery, without cutting and stitching, without any tell-tale scars, while still being carried out in the doctor’s rooms in only 30-60 minutes under local anaesthetic?
Now it is! This is the latest development in the push towards non-invasive procedures to lift facial sagging that develops as a result of loss of tissue support through ageing and sun damage.
What is the process?
This technique was pioneered by a cosmetic surgeon Dr Sulamanidze in Moscow, Russia, who patented the first threads in 1999 as ‘APTOS’. Since then, other threads have come about with variations and improvements brought about by expanding experience.
All these threads are made from bio-compatible non-dissolving suture material that has been in use for many decades so safety is assured. There is no risk of reaction, allergy, or rejection by the body. The sutures have numerous tiny notches cut along their length and these act as tiny anchors so that when inserted under the skin they anchor it along the length of suture threads where they are placed.
The threads are placed under the skin surface in a supporting sling fashion through a long hollow needle under local anaesthetic. Firstly the skin and tissues are elevated and positioned where they belong and when the positioning is precise, the needle is inserted under the skin. The thread is passed through the needle which is then removed, leaving behind the thread that now anchors the tissues in their new position.
What will it look like afterwards
The only marks visible on the skin at the end of the procedure are the needle puncture marks and these disappear over the next few days, leaving behind no sign of the procedure. Over time the body’s natural response forms an envelope of fibrous tissue around the threads and as this fibrous tissue firms up and contracts it further improves the lift. The procedure is carried out in the doctor’s rooms under local anaesthesia and often some sedation is given. If so then the patients cannot drive themselves home afterwards. The procedure takes 60 – 90 minutes to perform depending on how many areas need to be treated.
Who is suited to this procedure?
Any person of any age who has sagging of the skin and tissues of the face can have this procedure. However, some patients with advanced sagging and loss of elasticity have loose skin that will need to be removed and for these people, it is more appropriate to perform a surgical face lift that will take away the excess skin and tissues. Ideally the thread face lift is for people in the 30 to 60 age group with mild to moderate amount of sagging who want some rejuvenation of the face and don’t want to undergo surgery. The technique has also been used successfully in some patients into their seventies. A consultation is required to assess your suitability and the best approach to your particular problem.
What areas can be lifted?
The technique can be used to elevate the following areas
- Eyebrows Mid-face (for fuller cheeks)
- Lower face (to reduce the jowls)
How long does it last?
The threads remain permanently in place and so will continue to lift. Unfortunately the ageing process continues and so over time new sagging will develop. This is true with traditional surgical face lifting as well. When required, further lifting can be carried out in the future by the insertion of new threads and once the new ones are added, the old ones do not need to be removed. It is common now to do thread lifting on patients who have had a surgical lift in the past and now require some further lifting but are reluctant to undergo another operation.
What’s recovery like?
There will be some swelling which settles over 3-5 days. There may be some bruising much of which can be covered with make-up. The needle entry marks are only needle point in size and disappear in 2-3 days. Some soreness or pain may be experienced for 3-4 days and if necessary, can be controlled with simple pain relievers. Most patients are able to return to work after a week. This is the fastest and easiest and safest of all the face lifting techniques currently available. There are none of the risks of general anaesthesia as it is carried out with local anaesthetic. There is no cutting or invasion and there is no risk of damage to the very important facial nerve, which can happen during surgical face lifting.
There is no scarring or marking on the face so no risk of abnormal healing such a keloids and no tell-tale marks of face lifting. There is a huge reduction in pain and recovery time as compared to surgical face lifting. It takes 30-60 minutes to perform as compared to 3-4 hours with surgical face lifting.