By Nancy Thompson
For many people over the age of 30 or so, dermal fillers have become a part of our regular beauty routine. They help fill in wrinkles and lost volume, restoring the contours of youth by giving a slight lift to the face – they key word here being ‘slight’.
For anyone with other signs of aging, including jowls, a turkey neck and overall sagging, the main options were Thermage (which can be extremely painful, sometimes with negligible results), lasers (quite expensive) and a full on surgical facelift (which comes with the obvious caveats associated with any major form of surgery).
That all changed with the first thread lifts. Initially, they were rather painful and invasive. The procedure was performed using from two to four large-sized threads, made of various materials including 24k gold – which often snapped. It wasn’t until Korean surgeon and aesthetic dermatologist Dr Kwon Han Jin began developing a new way of providing the treatment while minimising discomfort and downtime that the modern thread lift was born. Also known as the Ultra V Lift, this new technique involved the use of a larger number of smaller threads and became extremely popular among celebrities (Kim Kardashian, Megan Fox and Kylie Minogue are said to have had the procedure) who were seeking an effective beauty regime that fit within their busy schedule.
Today, the threads are safer than ever, being made from natural materials, and the effects can last up to three years. These are the most common threads used today:
- Polydioxanone (PDO), which is often used for stitching in surgeries, lasts from six to twelve months depending on the circumstances. The threads will typically be dissolved within no more than one year, but help stimulate the production of collagen in your skin which is an effect that can sometimes last until well after the thread has gone.
- Poly-L-Lactic Acid (PLLA – same as the filler known as Sculptra), another material often chosen for surgical sutures, is even more effective at stimulating collagen production with a thread lifetime of more than two years. Once dissolved, the material breaks down into lactate, glucose, carbon dioxide and water, and has become one of the commonly used materials by advanced threadlift doctors for treatment in Singapore. Even after the thread has dissolved, collagen production can last for up to one more year.
- Polycaprolactone infused with Vitamin C, another material often chosen for surgical sutures, can last for 2 to 3 years. This is because the bonds and structure in PCL are stronger and more complex – thus it takes a much longer time to be dissolved by our skin. The slow rate of degradation of such threads also makes it a good material to deliver Vitamin C at an expected rate to the surrounding tissues. Vitamin C is proven for preventing pigment formation, lightening pigments that has formed and has anti-aging effects ( prevents the formation of free oxygen radicals generated by UV rays). It is also very potent at stimulating collagen production. Once dissolved, the material breaks down into carbon dioxide and water, and is fast becoming the latest in-thing for dark eye circles reduction. Even after the thread has dissolved, collagen production can last for up to one more year.
I tried the PDO threads for my lunchtime facelift, and guess what? They worked.
I opted to go with the renowned Italian plastic surgeon Bruno Amendola at his London office. Although happy with my overall appearance, something had been bothering me for some time: puffiness under my jaw.
So intense was this swelling, at times it looked as though I had gained a good 10 kilos overnight. Think: Marlon Brando in the Godfather. Something had to be done!
I initially consulted with an eye, ear and throat specialist who said my saliva glands were blocked and were causing the swelling. He suggested sucking lemons – which I did, to no effect. A second surgeon recommended removing the glands altogether. Not a good idea, in my book. Finally, Dr Amendola took a look and declared my glands healthy – apparently, it’s normal for saliva glands to swell up a bit for several reasons, including lowered immunity, pH differences in saliva and dehydration. The main issue, he explained, was that as I got older, the slight swelling appeared more dramatic because the skin under my jaw was less taut, making the puffiness was more visible. The solution? Tighten the skin with a thread lift.
To be perfectly honest, the idea of a needle jetting threads into the skin around my throat was not appealing at all. But neither was the idea of looking like a toad. I agreed to the procedure.
One Week Before
Dr Amendola recommended no caffeine, aspirin, vitamin C or smoking a week before my appointment – all of which was fine as I’m a pretty clean living gal. He also urged me to take homeopathic arnica pastilles for at least seven days before the lift, which I did: three little pills every three hours for a week. It was hard to remember to do this daily, and sometimes I failed, but in the end, it made a huge difference – on the day of my appointment, Dr Amendola applied numbing cream to my face, and 45 minutes later, he started shooting the threads through strategic points on my face and neck. Around 20 minutes later, he was astonished to declare his work finished.
Normally, he explained, this would have taken around an hour – he usually stops to put pressure on entry points that look like they may bruise. But thanks to my dedicated arnica popping, there was no need for that – not a single bruise appeared on my face! This is apparently quite unusual, but if you want a quick recovery from such a procedure, seriously – do what I did.
I know you’ve probably got two key questions in your mind: did it hurt, and how did it look? It didn’t hurt at all, it just felt a little weird, kind of stiff, when the threads were placed. And the results? My jaw was tightened immediately; I could see the difference clearly. When I went home, my husband was astounded to see that my frog face had disappeared. Dr Amendola told me the results would gradually continue to improve over the next two months.
The Final Results
Two months on, and I am happy with the results on my neck. I had hoped the lift would have also improved the lines in my labio-nasal folds, but Bruno explained that the focus was on my jaw and throat, so popped some dermal fillers in the lines around my mouth instead. I would seriously consider getting some more threads in my cheeks, and was delighted to learn that the threads are now being used to lift everything from breasts to butts – some doctors even put them in your elbows to avoid wrinkles there! Hmm….
Today, I’m really happy with my new/old jawline, and am a bit panicked thinking the effects may only last six months (the life of the threads). I dearly hope that it lasts the full two years; apparently staying hydrated and using good creams can help facilitate this. Ultimately, I feel like that cursed Prince in the fairytale after he was kissed – touched by magic, frog faced no longer.
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