Are Thread-Lifts the New Face-Lift? What You Need to Know

In a new, trending cosmetic procedure, docs are trading their scalpels for what sounds like a needle and thread. We got the scoop from a top Manhattan dermatologist.

It’s a non-surgical alternative to a face-lift

Are Thread-Lifts the New Face-Lift? What You Need to Know About This New ProcedureCourtesy of RealSelf and Dr. Dean KaneForget aging gracefully—adopting these everyday habits can make you look way younger. But if you’re looking for some help in that department, you might be curious about the new thread lifts. Cleared by the FDA in 2015, Silhouette InstaLift is being touted as a non-surgical alternative to traditional face-lift surgery. “It’s the ideal minimally invasive solution for those who want to refresh their appearance without major surgery, injections, or laser treatments,” says Marina Peredo, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.

It’s designed to fix drooping in two different ways

In addition to lifting skin (reducing sagging), Silhouette InstaLift purports to help increase and restore volume to the midface and cheek area. “Rather than just repositioning the skin, we now focus on the underlying layers of the skin because that is what really causes sagging,” Dr. Peredo says. Want to get ahead of the game? Learn more about how your skin ages through every decade of your life.

It doesn’t actually use needle and thread

Are Thread-Lifts the New Face-Lift? What You Need to Know About This New ProcedureCourtesy of RealSelf and Dr. Susan LinDuring the procedure, a trained cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist inserts resorbable suspension sutures—made from biodegradable polymers frequently used in medical devices—under the skin, through tiny incisions made in the targeted area. “These sutures attach to the skin via bi-directional cones and are then pulled back to lift, smooth, and recontour the face,” explains Dr. Peredo. Over time, the sutures are absorbed by the body, stimulating fibroblasts (cells in connective tissue that produce collagen among other fibers) for gradual buildup of collagen, which helps achieve a lasting, natural look.

It’s (more) affordable

Not only is it less invasive than a traditional face-lift, but thread-lifts are also less expensive. The average cost for Silhouette InstaLift is $3,975 versus $12,100 for a face-lift, according to RealSelf. PS. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—or in this case a few thousand bucks. Experts agree that the best way to prevent premature skin aging is sunscreen! These are the 13 sunscreens top dermatologists actually use on themselves.

There’s no set age to try it

Are Thread-Lifts the New Face-Lift? What You Need to Know About This New ProcedureCourtesy of RealSelf and Dr. Mitchell ChasinAccording to Dr. Peredo, ideal candidates for Silhouette InstaLift are those in their 30s to 60s who have relatively good skin tone. “It’s best for patients who are beginning to experience sagging in their face but do not yet have excessively loose skin or drooping that might require more rigorous face-lift surgery.” It’s a great option for patients who don’t want to undergo a traditional face-lift or deal with the ongoing maintenance required with injectables three to four times a year. Find out the right age to begin these vital skin-care practices.

You won’t have to hide for weeks afterward

The entire procedure is performed in-office and should take 30 minutes to an hour. And according to Dr. Peredo, there should be little to no pain. “Physicians use local anesthetic to numb the area before inserting the sutures.” Plus, there’s very little downtime required, considering the results. Patients are able to return to their daily routines within one to two days (that’s even less downtime than with fillers). These are the skin-care rules to live by for every stage of your life.

You’ll enjoy some pretty immediate gratification

Are Thread-Lifts the New Face-Lift? What You Need to Know About This New ProcedureCourtesy of RealSelf and Dr. Andre Berger“All of my patients have seen results almost immediately after the procedure,” says Dr. Peredo. The results also tend to improve after three months when the body begins producing new collagen. (Find out Christie Brinkley’s age-defying secrets that makes 63 look like 33.)

There are minimal risks

Like all procedures, thread-lifts are not devoid of risks. Potential side effects include minor swelling and bruising. There’s also a slight chance of puckering of the skin where the barb is pulling, and that often resolves on its own in a few days. Bigger risks are infection, nerve damage, and a lopsided face, but those reactions are extremely rare. Not ready to go under the knife? These makeup tricks could completely transform your features.

Patients say, “It’s worth it”

Are Thread-Lifts the New Face-Lift? What You Need to Know About This New ProcedureCourtesy of RealSelf and Dr. Janet AllenbyAccording to Dr. Peredo, the vast majority of her patients are very pleased with the results. The procedure earned a 94 percent “Worth It” rating on RealSelf from real people who have gotten it done. Now that you’re familiar with Silhouette InstaLift, read up these under-the-radar procedures plastic surgeons are performing.

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Lindsay Cohn
Lindsay Cohn has a B.A. in Creative Writing & Communications from the University of Miami. Her work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Brides, Fodor's, Travel + Leisure, PureWow, USA Today, and more.