Thread Lift Therapy is a non-surgical cosmetic procedure using threads (commonly known as PDO or Silhouette Soft) to stimulate collagen and to lift facial tissues that have been subjected to gravitational descent.
If it’s done right, it’s great for collagen stimulation, increasing blood circulation, and skin firmness. Thread Lift is one of my favourite treatments being offered in my clinic.
There are 2 Types of Threads:
- Stimulating Threads (which are smooth)
- Lifting Threads (which have anchors e.g. cogs, barbs, cones or spokes).
The treatment involves passing a cannula (a fine tube) which holds the thread inside through the tissues at desired positions and then removing the cannula, leaving the thread behind.
With all non-surgical cosmetic procedures, there will be potential side effects and complications which are discussed with the patient during consultation and being reaffirmed when they are asked for their consent. These side effects are rare but risk increases with poor patient selection, poor technique, and poor thread materials.
I’ve been receiving an increasing number of enquiries recently to review possible complications from thread lift treatments carried out by other practitioners. So I wrote this blog to reassure you of what is normal, common, and what needs medical attention.
If you have concerns about your treatment, I would recommend seeing your original practitioner for a review. If you require a second opinion, you can email me on [email protected].
At the time of writing, non-surgical cosmetic procedures are not properly regulated in the UK, and they do not require a prescription for the threads. What that means is – even your hairdresser and plumber can perform this treatment as they can easily order it online.
Here are the potential side effects of Thread Lift Treatment:
1. Bruising, tenderness and swelling
This is normal after a treatment.
During the treatment, bruising is reduced by using Xylocaine which is lignocaine and adrenaline to reduce the bleeding during the anaesthetic infiltration. It will take between 1-2 weeks to subside.
Tenderness increases if there is more bruising and swelling.
If it doesn’t improve after 2 weeks, please consult your practitioner.
2. Lumps and bumps or uneven skin
This may temporarily occur along the treatment site. They usually subside in time.
3. Skin puckering or dimpling
This happens due to the superficial placement of the thread e.g. the anchors catching on the superficial layers of the skin.
If it is mild, it will settle on its own along with the natural movement of the skin.
If your practitioner gives the green light, you can reduce the dimpling by massaging the area. This releases the catch on the thread.
If the dimpling is deeper or occurs a few weeks after the treatment, you may need a small procedure in the clinic to release it. This involves numbing the area, making a small entry with a needle and inserting a cannula (a fine blunt tube) to release the fibres.
Depending on the position of the skin dimpling, it may affect the end result as you’re releasing the lift.
4. Skin protrusion and palpable threads
This typically occurs due to the end of the threads being too close to the skin. This can be easily treated by making an entry point with a needle (after numbing the area), taking hold of the end of the thread and cutting it short.
5. Visible thread
This occurs mainly with thin skin and the thread is placed too superficially. The thread will start to dissolve depending on its location but it will take a few months.
6. Snapping of the threads
This mainly occurs with lifting threads and can occur due to the quality of the threads or extreme movement of the face.
When the threads are first placed, it is held mechanically by the anchors. It is held biochemically only in a few weeks time, when new collagen starts to form and strengthen. I advise my patients to make minimal movements with their face to minimise micro-movement of the threads to avoid potential snapping. If in case the thread snaps, it may or may not affect the final result depending on where it occurred.
7. Facial asymmetry
This may occur due to the anaesthesia used. It will eventually be resolved once the anaesthesia wears off.
Another cause of this might be due to improper lifting on one side of the face. The face is naturally asymmetrical so it’s almost impossible to create symmetry without surgery. On assessment prior to treatment, it’s important to plan the thread lift, respecting your natural facial asymmetry or it might exacerbate the problem.
8. Partially extruded stimulating threads
This is one of the most uncommon risks of Thread Lift Treatment but can occur with Stimulating Threads which are very fine and smooth so as you move your face, it can sometimes make its way out through the skin. You may notice it and wonder if it’s a stray hair.
You can easily remove this with tweezers. Losing 1-2 Stimulating Threads has no impact on the outcomes.
Signs of infection include skin redness, swelling, tenderness, and possible high fever.
As I mentioned before, it’s normal to have swelling and tenderness after the treatment. It should gradually improve in the next few days of recovery. If you suddenly notice increasing swelling and tenderness again, then it’s a possible infection and needs to be rechecked and reviewed by your practitioner.
This will need to be treated with a short course of antibiotics and the threads may need to be removed if the infection gets worse.
10. Granuloma Formation
Granuloma Formation is a rare complication of Thread Lifts. The body views the thread as a foreign body so it tries to wall it off, resulting in local chronic inflammation.
This typically presents as a firm small lump under the skin a few months after the treatment. It is harmless and painless. It’s often not visible but palpable. It can be treated with steroid injection, cryotherapy, or if it’s larger, a small surgical procedure to remove it.
11. Nerve, vascular pressure, or injury
This is an extremely rare complication and is presented with skin discoloration, change in sensation, increasing pain, or it may resolve on its own but will require medical attention.
It is so important to seek treatment from an experienced practitioner who respects the anatomy of the face and understands your intricate facial difference to ensure safety during treatment. A safe practitioner will also know what to do if complications arise.
I do not mean to scare you with this blog but I want to remind you that Thread Lift treatment is an art, a science, and definitely a medical procedure so please choose your practitioner wisely.
If you are considering this treatment, I would recommend these past blogs I have done on my own experience with thread lifts.