Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Thread Lifts and How They Work

Botox and dermal fillers are great, but they tend to lack that certain something when it comes to recreating youthful facial contours. These traditional “injectables” are great for dynamic or static facial lines but as cosmetic practitioners we are aware that they have little, if any, true lifting effect.

The demand for a procedure akin to something as minimally invasive as an Botox or dermal fillers, but at the same time providing a lift as good as full cosmetic surgery has led to the development of the “thread lift”. The thread lift procedure involves various cosmetic techniques that are aimed at lifting parts of the face and body using specially designed surgical threads (though normal surgical threads are perfectly acceptable). The thread lift procedure is slightly more invasive than an injectable, yet is much less dramatic compared to conventional surgical lifting; making it a good compromise between the extremes of these two techniques.

How does the thread lift work?

The threads are inserted into the superficial fat layer below the skin and above the facia. Once inserted, the threads are positioned and directed by the operator in order to achieve their maximum potential and this process differs in the two main techniques of free-floating and suspension type thread lifting.

Once under the skin the thread achieves two types of lift, mechanical and histological. The mechanical lift is noticeable immediately after insertion of the thread due to the barbs pulling the soft tissue to achieve lifting. The histological lift is due to the deposition of fibroblasts and new collagen being formed around the barbs. The visible effects appear over time, usually from two weeks after the insertion.

As with every cosmetic procedure, correct patient selection is one of the most important factors of its success, as despite the many advantages of the thread lift not every one is suitable for it.

Careful assessment of the patient is important as there are other factors that determine the success of the procedure. These factors are the amount of subcutaneous fat and the quality of the skin. For example a very thin patient will not be a suitable candidate as there is simply not enough subcutaneous fat for the threads to be inserted into. Skin quality is important because in thread lift there is no excision of skin, but we rely on the elastic properties of the skin to achieve retraction, which usually takes place from two weeks after the procedure. Therefore a patient with too much redundant skin and/or a high level of sun damage cannot receive thread lift treatment.

Compared to conventional surgery the possible complications involved in thread lifts are much fewer. This, along with the fact that thread lift procedures are reversible (more so in the early stages), makes it overall a much safer procedure. Possible complications have been noted as including haematoma, thread extrusion, visible threads, asymmetry, neuropraxia, paraesthesia and less satisfactory results and these all have to be mentioned to the patient before treatments begins. One of the most common reasons for unsatisfactory results is the excessive movement of the face in the early stages after the procedure has been performed. In order to avoid this, the administration of Botox treatments two weeks prior to a thread lift is advisable in the required areas.

To summarise, the thread lift procedures have a definite place in aesthetic surgery. For the right patient they can deliver results as good as conventional surgery but with minimal scarring and down time.

Thread Lifts are availble through Glancey Medical Associates based in London and Essex and headed by Dr Lucy Glancey.

1 comment:

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