Thread lifts in lieu of surgery not worth the short term result or the very real risks | Health


Dear Dr. Kelly: I am thinking about a thread lift. I would like to have facelift results without going through surgery. What do you think?

Dr. Kelly: I am not a big fan of thread lifts. For the readers who don’t know what they are, let me explain how they are supposed to work:

Thread lifts are promoted as a method of elevating tissues without doing surgery. The idea is that you place dissolvable sutures from above that have barbs located every few centimeters on the suture. Then you pull the suture upward and the barbs catch the tissue below and lift it up. There are also techniques where the suture is inserted from below and the tissue is pushed up onto the barbs for the same effect.

If you stand in front of a mirror and push your cheeks upward with your fingertips, you will get the idea of how thread lifts are supposed to work.

Thread lifts are being promoted now to lift eyebrows, cheeks, jawlines, necks, breasts, tummies and, even, knees. There are many companies producing these dissolvable threads, and the vast majority of providers who are doing these procedures are non-surgeons: dermatologists, PAs and nurse practitioners.

I recently attended a conference to learn more about the thread lifts and actually see these procedures performed. I was not impressed.

The primary problem I saw was that when they work, thread lifts maintain the elevation of the facial tissues for three months, at most. Remember, these are dissolvable sutures. So, it is a very short result. In addition, the procedures can produce visible dimpling, bruising and are often very painful afterward. When done for the neck, breasts or knees, they simply don’t work.

In my own practice, I have patients come in every week saying they tried the threads and saw no improvement. I also have a facelift patient who had a permanently crooked smile where the thread had damaged the marginal mandibular branch of her facial nerve.

Everyone would love facelift results without getting a facelift. Unfortunately, because of the risks and limited improvement achieved via a thread lift, I would not recommend them.

About Dr. Kelly

Dr. Kelly is a board-certified Plastic Surgeon and partner in both Miami Plastic Surgery and MPS MedSpa. He has been in practice over 25 years and has been recognized by his peers both nationally and internationally as one of the best plastic surgeons in the United States. In addition to being an expert on Cosmetic Surgery, his practice encompasses the entire spectrum of non-invasive treatments such as Botox, fillers, CoolSculpting, ultrasound, lasers and radio-frequency.

He also believes in giving back to our community, having served on the Village Council for eight years and volunteering as a coach for our youth sports programs. You can email him questions at

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