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In the age of social media, most of us want instant gratification and this view is applied on many aspects of our lives, including our skin. We want the best results in the shortest period of time, and when that doesn’t happen, we are ready to jump to the next cream, serum or mask we hope can solve our skin concerns in a flash. 

But skin isn’t like most things – there’s an average renewal cycle of 28 days, which means it takes at least three to four weeks to see results. Perhaps this also explains the rise in aesthetic procedures – the results of fillers and botox are almost instantaneous. The same goes for thread lifts, which has gained popularity for being minimally invasive, and solves ageing concerns like sagging jowls and nasolabial folds. What exactly are thread lifts? We speak to Dr Tan YZ of Mizu Aesthetic Clinic to learn more.

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What is thread lifting?

Thread lifting involves the incision of threads underneath the skin and pulled to stimulate a lifting result. In Singapore, only PDO (Polydioxanone) threads are used although PLLA (poly-L-lactic acid) and PCL (Polylactic acid) threads have been FDA-approved, they have yet to be approved for use in Singapore by HSA. 

“PDO materials are usually used as sutures in surgery and they dissolve away in the body after a certain period. The advantage of using PDO material is that the tensile strength is very strong and the lifting effect is ideal,” comments Dr Tan YZ of Mizu Aesthetic Clinic. “However, PDO materials don’t last very long, about six months, and the lifting effects will continue for about another three months afterwards.”

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What can thread lifts do?

Thread lifts are very flexible in its usage, and depending on the experience and techniques of the doctor, they can be used to lift the skin to create a firmer visage, accentuate cheekbones and even used on the nose. 

However, thread lifting is not without its limitations. If saggy jowls also has a considerable amount of fat deposits, Dr Tan suggests the use of radio-frequency treatments like HIFU or Ulthera in tandem with the use of threads. “When HIFU is applied to the area, it lifts and tightens skin as it melts fats. So if you were to do a HIFU treatment prior to thread-lifting, the results would be much better,” adds Dr Tan. 

Threads can be used on the nose as well but they are not as common as fillers as they last much longer than threads. However, some fillers might end up broadening the nose bridge due to fluid dynamics and the contours are not as refined compared to threads. Fillers administered to the nose also run the risk of causing blindness as it’s very close to the eyes, a risk which doesn’t come with thread lifts. However, just like using threads on the cheeks, there are limitations as well. Those with flatter nose bridge would benefit more from the volume which fillers give, and it’s important to have a doctor who is able to explain the benefits of both and to advise the best treatment for their patients. 

How is thread lifting done?

Numbing cream is first applied to the areas where the threads will be inserted. Numbing fluid will also be injected to further numb the area. Dr Tan uses a newer bottom-up technique which was developed in Korea by Dr. Eui Taeg Jung of Dr. Jung Clinic in Seoul as the results lasts longer and are more natural. 

The threads are then pulled, which simultaneously allows the barbs on the threads to anchor into the skin, and lifts it. A typical thread lifting treatment may require anywhere from three threads per side to 11 if required. The number of threads is dependent on the type of lifting results desired and each treatment takes about an hour. There may be some bruising involved but patients are generally able to go about their daily routine after the procedure. 

For the first new days, there may be soreness and tension felt in the face which gradually fades as the threads settle. Sleeping on the side of the face is discouraged as it might cause discomfort. The lifting effects can be seen immediately, but the best results come in a few days later when the threads settle. 

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