Thread Lifts. . . My Newest Obsession

Ever wonder what Hollywood’s secret to tauter, younger-looking skin is? One well-kept secret to a more “snatched” (tight) jaw, higher cheeks, and lifted brows is a thread lift. Thread lifting involves placing needles preloaded with polydioxanone (PDO) threads into the skin to lift and tighten it. These threads have microscopic barbs (cut into them with a laser) that allow them to stay where we place them. You can think about this procedure as “redraping” skin on the face (and other parts of the body) that has started to sag. The threads dissolve over the next six months, however, more collagen is stimulated by placement of the threads and that collagen remains. The procedure is quick, not too painful, and lasts for about eighteen months.

As a board-certified dermatologist having done an advanced fellowship in cosmetics, I aim to stay at the forefront of research on developing new trends and technologies related to beauty and anti-aging. I’m always skeptical of new techniques (including new lasers and injectables) until they have been out long enough for us to really see how effective (and safe) they are.

Two examples of procedures I’ve waited on introducing into my practice – and am glad that I did – are Qwo (injections to minimize the appearance of cellulite) and Renuvion (introducing helium gas under the skin to tighten it). Both sounded promising, but, from a scientific standpoint, I had concerns about each. Several patients injected with Qwo (treated at an outside clinic) had bruising so intense that residual hyperpigmentation (from hemosiderin deposition) remained after the bruising resolved. I treated these patients with a series of lasers to minimize the hyperpigmentation (while patting myself on the back that I had waited to introduce Qwo to my office). The company that made Qwo subsequently filed for bankruptcy. I had similar concerns about Renuvion (J-Plasma). It gave the immediate appearance of skin tightening, but, the mechanism of action behind how introducing helium gas under the skin could result in permanent skin tightening did not make sense to me. Thus, I held off on buying the device and offering it to my patients. About a year after I demoed it, the FDA issued a warning against using it for skin tightening/cosmetics. 

I waited on introducing thread lifts to my patients until they had been out for several years. I wanted a significant amount of research demonstrating the efficacy and safety of the procedure to become available and, of course, to ensure that the mechanism behind how they work made sense to me. Now that all of this has come to fruition and that I’m doing this procedure on some of Hollywood’s most photographed faces, I’m obsessed with the results. My favorite area to do threads is the jawline, however, we can do them all over the body (including the neck, chest, buttocks, elbows, and knees) to lift and tighten the skin as well as to stimulate more collagen production.

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