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Facelift vs Thread Lift | What’s the difference?

When comparing thread lifts and facelifts, you’re talking apples and oranges – not apples and apples! There is no substitute when it comes to facelift surgery, says Brisbane based plastic surgeon Dr David Sharp.

With the rise of ‘non-surgical face lifts’ using threads – thanks to prominence on social media – we are seeing a surge in patients looking for information about thread lifts, as a substitute for facelift surgery. So do they really achieve the same results?

What is a thread lift?

A thread lift uses temporary sutures placed under the skin in areas of skin laxity and jowling to produce a subtle lift in the face. Unlike a facelift, instead of permanently removing the excess skin, these sutures contain a surface that stimulates collagen production.

The effect is visible to the eye but does not achieve the degree of lift achieved by a facelift. It is important to note that thread lifts will only lift by a few millimetres, with results lasting six to eighteen months.

The results are also temporary, as the sutures dissolve after several months. While in place, they activate the body’s natural healing response, directing collagen to the treated areas thus delivering subtle improvements to skin tone, fine lines and skin firmness.

The average thread lift for a mature aged patient with moderate skin sagging needs to be repeated in order to maintain results.

What is a face lift?

A facelift is a surgical procedure that tightens the underlying structures of the mid and lower sections of the face and removes excess skin.

This can reduce jowling, loose skin and deep wrinkles.

A facelift does not stop the ageing process, but the permanent removal of lax skin and the tightening of underlying facial structure does much more than the temporary suspension of thread lifts.

A facelift is often paired with neck liposuction to remove excess weight off the lower face as well as reduce the nasolabial folds at the sides of the mouth/nose.

Pictured: before and four months after facelift, neck liposuction, bilateral upper and lower blepharoplasty surgery with Dr Sharp. Patient also underwent Fraxel laser postoperatively.

Facelift vs Thread Lift | What's the difference? - 1
Facelift vs Thread Lift | What's the difference? - 2

Why don’t we offer thread lifts?

  • EOutcomes: the changes to the skin after treatment are not comparable in terms of totally removing excess skin and lifting underlying structures
  • ELongevity: a face lift can deliver many years of noticeable results. Thread lifts offer a subtle change for 6 to 18 months
  • ECost: a facelift is much more expensive up front, but may be more cost effective over a decade, than repeated thread lifting
  • ETrack record: all treatment carries risks, but the side effects from thread lifts can include dimpling of the skin, visible threads protruding under the skin, recurrent laxity, infection, facial asymmetry and recurrent pain. Our clinic has treated thread lift patients with granulomas and ridging that has required excision, with varying success. We aren’t able to reliably predict the outcome of the procedure as well as we can a facelift; nor does the long term data exist for threads that exists for facelift surgery.

Above: before and four months after facelift and facial fat transfer surgery with Dr Sharp. Patient also underwent Fraxel laser postoperatively.

When considering facial treatments, it’s important to consider the potential complications, risks, costs and results of each procedure. Seek the opinion of at least two qualified clinicians with experience performing the procedures you are considering. Results will vary from patient to patient, and so a gallery of before and after photos showing the range of results that can be expected can be invaluable in establishing realistic expectations about what can be achieved for you.

If you have any queries

To talk to our patient support team and book a consultation, call (07) 3202 4744.

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