You know “IG Face” when you see it. The look that’s taken over Instagram has some recognizable traits: a thin straight nose with a defined tip, plump and hydrated lips, a jawline that could cut glass, and of course, lifted eyes and brows. In a word? Snatched. As more and more people on social media seem to have this visage, it can seem as though we’re all morphing into Kardashian/Jenner/Hadids as we scroll. Regardless of how you feel about that, you may be wondering — how does anyone get that face to begin with? The answer might be a new cosmetic procedure: thread lifts. We tapped facile dermatology + boutique provider Bell Yoo, MSN, FNP-C for the inside scoop on this new lifting treatment.
What It Is
Let’s start with the basics. What is a thread lift? “A thread lift procedure involves the insertion of Polydioxanone (PDO) threads into the skin to stimulate collagen production and provide a minimally invasive facelift,” explains Yoo. “It’s rising in popularity because it offers an alternative for those who are not yet ready to get a traditional facelift surgery. People also like the instant gratification of a visible face and brow lift, enhanced skin texture, and fewer fine lines and wrinkles after one treatment with minimal downtime.”
According to Yoo, not only can PDO threads lift saggy cheeks, jowls, or drooping eyebrows, they can also reduce the appearance of smile lines, help define the jawline and neck, and open up hooded eyes. Some threads can even be inserted into deeper wrinkles, such as frown lines or smile lines to lift and volumize. In short: if you want something lifted, threads can most likely do the job.
How It Works
If you’ve ever had surgery, you’re probably familiar with threads in another form. “PDO threads are made of polydioxanone, which is the same type of material as absorbable sutures used in surgery,” says Yoo. Although they’re made from the same material, not all threads are created equal. “There are 3 main types of PDO threads: mono, cog, and screw,” explains Yoo. “Mono threads are singular, smooth sutures that stimulate collagen and provide a small lift to the face. Cog threads have a barbed texture that provides increased collagen production and an instant mechanical lifting effect. Screw threads are typically multiple intertwined threads which provide a better volumizing effect to the treated area.”
Once these threads are placed in your skin, they actually trigger your body’s self-healing abilities. “Your body will react by inducing collagen formation around each thread inserted into the skin,” explains Yoo. “As the threads dissolve over the next several months, those bundles of collagen stay and keep the skin tight and rejuvenated.” More collagen means more skin elasticity and more hydration — yes please.
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“Thread lifts are rising in popularity because they offer an alternative to a traditional facelift.”
What You Can Expect
Just as with treatments like Botox and filler, prep is essential. “Patients should avoid blood thinners such as aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamin E, fish oils, alcohol for at least one week prior to treatment,” says Yoo. For some, this treatment is a definite no-go, so know your body before you make that appointment. “Thread lifts are not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women, those with an autoimmune disease, diabetes, or active infection,” says Yoo.
When you come in for your treatment, your provider will apply a topical numbing agent and local anesthetic to minimize pain. Once you’re good and numb, your provider will use either a fine needle or a blunt cannula to insert the thread under your skin. 45 minutes to an hour later, you’re on your way.
What Recovery Is Like
Like Yoo said, downtime is minimal. “Most patients are able to resume normal activity within 1 day to 1 week after treatment,” she says. After the treatment, you might experience swelling, bruising, and tenderness. “These side effects are common and will typically resolve over the first one to two weeks,” says Yoo. “Other potential side effects that are less common include infection, asymmetry, skin dimpling or unevenness, facial nerve damage, thread migration or protrusion, and allergic reaction.” If any of those happen, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
While the pain won’t hold you back too much, it is important to limit facial movement for the first two weeks after your treatment. For this reason, “patients should plan to eat soft foods for the first week after treatment, avoid drinking from a straw or opening your mouth wide to eat ,and avoid facial massages or other cosmetic procedures for at least 4 weeks,” according to Yoo.
Is It Worth It?
Unlike a surgical facelift or brow lift, the results after a thread lift are not permanent. “The PDO threads themselves dissolve after about six to nine months, but the effects of the collagen production will last for one to two years,” says Yoo. “Most patients do not need to repeat treatment for at least two to three years after a thread lift.”
If the idea of a barbed needle lifting areas of your face from the inside is too much for you, there are other treatments that can help achieve similar results. “High intensity ultrasound treatments like Ultherapy or radiofrequency treatments like Thermage may provide similar lifting and skin rejuvenation effects,” says Yoo. “However, results tend to take several months to appear and may not be as drastic as a thread lift.”
So is it worth it? Depends on how badly you want that coveted IG Face IRL. In the meantime, there’s always Facetune.