A top cosmetic surgeon has warned that thread lifts are often miss-sold by ‘pop up’ clinics with poorly trained staff that are not qualified plastic surgeons. In many cases the threads are used on patients who are not fully informed and are not suited to treat their concerns, resulting in a poor result and a waste of money, despite their growing popularity in the UK.
Echoing recent calls from the Dutch Plastic Surgery Society, Amir Nakhdjevani of the Bella Vou clinic in Kent has also questioned the safety and reliability of thread lifts, which are often carried out by unqualified ‘pop-up’ practitioners looking to cash-in on the treatment that is often marginalised as an extension of those treatments found in a beautician’s.
Amir Nakhdjevani said:
The way thread lifts are sold to patients makes them sound fantastic. Often described as a quick, minimally invasive, cheap alternative to a facelift with no complications, in reality they are frequently inserted incorrectly or used on patients who, due to their age and lax skin, will have disappointing results with short-term effects and are a false economy. For such patients threads are not the solution in effectively treating the concern procedure as are far less effective than the hype suggests.
When you consider that a thread lift costs between £1,500 and £3,000 and the effects only last 12 to 18 months, while facelift surgery typically costs £6,000 and lasts up to 10 years it’s clear that thread lifts are a false economy for the vast majority of patients that are concerned about the effects of age on their face.
A facelift is invariably the preferable treatment to a thread lift, as it offers a long-term solution to address the effect of aging. Thread lifts are only temporary and pull the skin back rather than tightening the underlying muscles of the face and neck and removing the excess lax skin, so any benefits are short-lived, less effective and costly, and there are still complications to be aware of.
Indeed, thread lifts were banned by the US Food and Drug Administration until 2015 due to a spate of patient complaints about the procedure. The Dutch Plastic Surgery Society recently raised concerns about the growing popularity of thread lifts, arguing they are expensive and their potential complications can be detrimental to facial tissue and very difficult to treat.
Mr Nakhdjevani has treated a number of patients who suffered complications from thread lift procedures:
Recently I have performed facelifts on several clients who had previously opted for a thread lift which resulted in bunching of the skin and the thread being visible under the skin. In other cases the threads had been placed so deep into the patient’s face that they ran through the muscle, rather than sitting in the skin where they’re supposed to.
The procedure had caused significant amounts of scarring. It was lucky the thread lift hadn’t damaged any facial nerves or blood vessels. With a thread lift the practitioner is unable to see how deep the needle is going into the patient’s face when inserting the threads and this can result in significant damage which is very difficult to correct once the threads are in place. Should this occur only a facial plastic surgeon could treat the patient.
Thread-lifts don’t produce long-lasting results because they only tighten the skin rather than the underlying muscular layer or foundation of the face; over time the threads dissolve and the skin will sag once again. Additionally, as the tightened skin isn’t removed with a thread lift, a puckered or rippled effect can frequently be seen, which looks unnatural.
I’ve seen patients whose threads have been pulled too tight, resulting in creasing, as the excess skin bunches up in front of their ear like a drawn curtain. By contrast, with a facelift the excess skin is removed, so this problem doesn’t occur.
A thread lift is not an adequate alternative to a facelift. For patients who exhibit more advanced signs of aging, such as jowls, loss of volume to the cheeks, sagging necklines and deep lines around the nose and mouth, a thread lift will not provide the necessary lift and longevity required.
In most cases a facelift is a better option, as the underlying muscles are tightened, lax skin removed and volume restored to the cheeks, to provide a fresh-faced, natural looking and rejuvenated appearance.
What are thread lifts?
A thread lift involves placing barbed threads (similar to tiny fish hooks) under the skin and then tightening them to pull up sagging skin on the face and neck. The threads are inserted using a needle and dissolve naturally within six months. The procedure costs over £1,500 and the results typically last around a year.
There has been a surge in demand for thread lifts over the past couple of years in the UK, as patients and practitioners look for new ways to rejuvenate the face as cheaply as possible despite the danger and temporary nature of the treatment.