Thread Lift Surgeon Discussion

Edited by Michael Block, PhD

The thread lift, or barbed suture, procedure is relatively new. As with any new procedure, there is a wide range of opinion among plastic surgeons as to its merits. Some have achieved excellent results and are quite enthusiastic about thread lifts, whereas others are concerned about complications and are taking a wait-and-see approach until more experience is gained.

The Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery asked a cross-section of plastic surgeons from across the country to give their opinions about the thread lift procedure.

Thread Lift Pros and Cons

Scott R. Miller, MD, FACS, La Jolla, Calif.: The thread lift (barbed suture facial soft tissue reshaping) is a facial rejuvenation alternative. The ideal patient for this procedure is typically bothered by early or recurrent facial aging, but is not a candidate for a more invasive approach such as a facelift. The downtime for recovery is usually four to seven days.

The results, while subtle, have been very pleasing and reliable, in my experience.

Leo R. McCafferty, MD, FACS, Pittsburgh: While thread lifts hold promise, I'm waiting for the test of time to pass and the final conclusion of cumulative results before I bring thread lifts into my practice.

Joseph A. Mele, MD, FACS, San Francisco: If we look back over plastic surgery history, using sutures for the purpose of suspension (lifting) was abandoned long ago. This is because facelifts were more predictable and produced longer-lasting results.

Since today's new thread lift uses a barbed suture that catches and lifts, this may pose an advantage. However, this may pose a disadvantage in the future should a patient's barbed suture break or should a patient decide to proceed with a formal facelift, especially if the second procedure is performed by a different surgeon. It may be difficult to predict where the sutures are located.

Alternative procedures that I prefer to use are the endoscopic brow lift or other minimally invasive procedures.

Adam N. Summers, MD, Baltimore: In appropriately selected patients, advanced thread lift techniques can provide results similar to a traditional facelift without the risks or downtime associated with traditional surgery.

Patients who are beginning to notice facial drooping can achieve excellent results and potentially avoid a more major facial rejuvenation procedure in subsequent years. Older patients can also benefit from the thread lift procedure, as long as their skin is not overly lax.

Lawrence S. Reed, MD, FACS, New York City: Threads — in essence sutures — can malfunction, which may affect facial appearance. In fact, all sutures migrate to some degree.

Whether or not this has a clinical implication is a different story. I have not witnessed thread migration that has caused the clinical implication of a changed facial appearance in my practice. Moreover, if a thread were to break or snap, it can be removed without difficulty and replaced.

Malcolm D. Paul, MD, FACS, Newport Beach, Calif.: The thread lift is a minimally invasive procedure that may work as an additive to a palette of procedures that may be integrated into the treatment plan to provide total improvement.

[Get more details about the thread lift procedure.]

About the Editor of This Article

Michael Block, PhD, is a former editor of Plastic Surgery Products and Chemical Innovation magazines and had an extensive career as a research chemist and R&D manager. He has a BS in chemistry from the University of Michigan and AM and PhD degrees in chemistry from Harvard University.