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Uncommon Threads
The newest trend to firm your skin doesn’t require surgery


Oct. 2018

Mention “facelift” and most of us imagine a major surgical procedure that involves cutting, stretching and removing excess skin.

Today there are techniques that offer pleasing results without a trip to the operating room. One of the most promising is the thread lift, an FDA-approved procedure that got its first major U.S. exposure in 2015 when an article on Gwyneth Paltrow’s beauty website, Goop, said it was the “under-the-radar approach that’s sending A-listers flocking to Europe and Asia.”

The good news? You no longer have to catch a plane to try it out.

As the name implies, thread lifting — popular with both men and women — is performed by inserting a series of very fine, barbed threads under the skin or subcutaneous fat in the area to be treated. Once in place, these sutures pull and tighten the skin, creating a natural, lifted appearance.

Silhouette InstaLift and NovaThreads are two of the most popular thread-lifting brands, each with its own advantages and specific uses.

Silhouette InstaLift sutures have tiny cones on them that hold tissue in place. Made of a sugar molecule that naturally dissolves after it has been in place for nine to 15 months, this product is most recommended for lifting the jowls, cheeks and neck. According to Dr. Victoria Negrete, medical director at the Fox Valley’s Excelin Medical Spa, Silhouette’s results are immediate and can last more than two years. “In my experience, it has been shown to lift the skin 2 to 3 centimeters,” she says. Intrigued? ForeFront Dermatology’s Pleasant Prairie West location also offers the procedure.

NovaThreads, on the other hand, features barbed, dissolvable sutures that promote the restoration of depleted collagen and help lift sagging tissue. Negrete says the procedure is best for younger clients looking for subtle improvement. “It lasts between six and nine months, sometimes longer,” Negrete explains. “I generally use it on the neck and jowls, but it can be used also for lip enhancement, eyebrow lifts and to improve crepey skin on the neck. [It] has even been used for knee and butt lifts.” Pewaukee’s Wisconsin Vein Center and MediSpa offers the procedure locally.

According to a report titled “Thread Lift for Facial Rejuvenation” put out by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, 89 percent of patients studied were satisfied with the results achieved from the procedure. Researchers also found that the rejuvenation effect decreased during the first year, but actually began to increase after that. The reason appears to be the body’s natural cutaneous reaction that is stimulated by the threads. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports that, in addition to tightening the skin, the threads combat aging by stimulating the body’s healing response to the minor wounds caused by the threads, which causes an increased production of collagen in the affected area. Collagen is the naturally occurring structural protein that is lost with age.

Repeatedly injecting tiny threads into the skin might sound painful, but Negrete says thread lifting is a fairly simple, comfortable procedure. “We use a local anesthetic in the area where we are going to insert the threads, so the patient feels very little,” she explains. “Afterward, downtime is also minimal, but patients may notice a little tenderness and minor bruising and swelling in the area. Really, the biggest inconvenience is that, after the procedure, the patient should refrain from excessive exercise, hot tubs, saunas, dental procedures, chewing gum and [extreme] facial expressions for a few weeks.”

The cost of thread lifting varies widely depending on the patient and the number of threads they require. Generally, a lifting procedure with Silhouette InstaLift will set you back somewhere between $2,200 and $2,800. NovaThreads can cost as little as $300-400 for minor treatments and around $1,200 to $1,500 for a complete NovaThread lift.

Although the results and longevity of thread-lifting treatments differ, the cost comparison is dramatic. ASPS reported that the average price of a traditional facelift in 2017 was nearly $7,500.


This story ran in the Oct. 2018 issue of: