Barbed Thread Lifts vs. Facelifts

Close up portrait of woman's face

Recently, I took the opportunity to try out PDS barbed threads for facial rejuvenation. These threads are advertised as non-painful, low-downtime, cheaper than a traditional facelift, and with great, lasting results. Although I did not see this as a replacement for a facelift, I wanted to try this new technology in action. 

Thread Lift Procedures

I saw the advertisement for this procedure in the same category as Restylane®, JUVÉDERM®, BOTOX® , and other injectables. These injectable agents can serve as stand-alone procedures for patients that are not ready to undergo a surgical procedure, or as adjuncts to a surgical procedure. I have heard of “thread lifts” for the last seven or eight years. Dr. Oz and various other TV shows sing praises of thread lift procedures — I wanted to see what the newest iteration of this technology would yield.

Patient Goals

After viewing all of the surgical instructional videos, I found an appropriate patient to test the PDS thread lift technology on. These patient’s goals were:

  • Lift the brows
  • Lift the midface and cheek fat pad
  • Tighten the jawline
  • Tighten the neck

These are normally the traditional goals of an endoscopic brow lift, and a facelift.

My Procedure

Surgeons usually perform the thread lift procedure with only topical anesthesia spread onto the face. As surgeons, we apply numbing cream but also perform nerve blocks. I also prescribed pain medication for the patient after surgery, since I thought it was appropriate.

The procedure went quite well. I was impressed at how easy we placed the threads into the skin. However, I was disappointed by the total amount of lifting. As a surgeon, I am used to significant tightening of the midface, neck, and jowls after lifting the brow. 

Post-Procedure Results

The post-procedure results were abysmal. The patient had significant pain after the procedure. The patient had contour irregularities that required a secondary revision surgical procedure. My typical facelift patients usually only take three to four pain pills, but the patient with the thread lift procedure used over twenty, and still complained of pain until several of the threads were removed. To add insult to injury, the overall results were not even close to what I can achieve in the operating room. 

What I Learned

In conclusion, what I learned from all of this is—I will look at new technology. But, I will judge new technologies against proven gold standards for the patient’s goals. If a patient desires a tighter neckline, less jowls, with a lifted or fuller midface, I will recommend a facelift. I do not feel that the barbed thread lifts offer a single advantage other than cheaper cost to the patient. Furthermore, the cheaper cost is nullified by the poor overall results and the need to return, once again, to the operating room.