It’s no surprise that after more than a year of video conference calls, many of us have started to analyse – and criticise – our appearance more than ever. Never before have we been in a position where we’d be staring at our own faces for hours on end through the lenses of our laptops and smartphones, subsequently noticing flaws that may not have bothered us quite as much pre-pandemic.
Following lockdowns around the world, aesthetic doctors and plastic surgeons reported a huge surge in bookings for both surgical and non-surgical treatments. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) reported a 70% increase in requests for virtual consultations with their doctors during this period, as patients continued to consider procedures they’d be able to get once they could see their surgeon face to face again. A recent survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, meanwhile, showed that 64% of its doctors had seen an increase in virtual consultations since the start of the pandemic.
Known as the ‘Zoom Boom’, as we focus more and more upon our appearance in this altered reality, ‘lockdown face’ has become a genuine thing. Driving interest in non-invasive facial procedures (think: Botox, fillers, or skin resurfacing) that correct lines caused by the facial expressions we notice on video calls as well as to tackle wrinkles, there’s also been a surge in demand for neck rejuvenation and jawline contouring as people spend more time looking down into their computer’s camera and focusing on those areas of their body.
And it turns out, I’m not immune to the phenomena either. Just like millions of others out there, I too began to wonder, ‘Is it just that the camera on my laptop is positioned at a really, really unflattering angle? Or do I actually look this old and haggard in real life?’
I’m not the kind of girl to fixate on my flaws – life’s just too short. But even before lockdown hit, I’d been concerned that my jawline was not looking as firm as it used to, my cheeks were a little hollowed, and I was starting to develop jowls. Jowls! Actual jowls! What was happening to me? Was I at the top of the slippery slope to middle age? Because I simply wasn’t ready or willing to be there, thank you very much.
Having always been a fan of radio frequency treatments to lift the skin – they really do make a difference – I began to wonder if there was something longer-lasting that had an even better effect, but wasn’t a facelift. It’s something I’d hoped wasn’t required for at least another decade or two, but what to do about this newly sagging jaw? Not just put up with it, that’s for certain.
Thankfully, there was something I could do to address the problem: a thread lift. Developed to fill the gap between non-invasive facial rejuvenation and a facelift, a thread lift is a non-invasive procedure where temporary sutures are inserted using a special needle, producing a subtle but visible ‘lift’ in the skin. Instead of surgically removing loose facial skin, it is simply suspended by stitching up portions of it, pulling it back slightly, and lifting and tightening the face. Ideal for reversing skin laxity around the neck, jowls, cheeks, and eyebrows, the procedure is done under local anaesthesia, takes between 30-45 minutes, and gives an immediate lifting effect. With some chance of bruising or dimpling and swelling – all of which will start to subside after roughly three days – downtime is minimal. In fact, you can resume normal life pretty much straight after the procedure – hence its moniker ‘The Weekend Lift.’
There are many types of threads that can be used in a thread lift: permanent threads, made of polypropylene, which were used initially but lost popularity with time due to the high rate of complications associated with their permanent nature; PDO threads, made of polydioxanol, which usually dissolve within three months; PLLA (Poly-L-Lactic Acid) threads, which last around 12 months and build more collagen around them; and finally PCL (poly-caprolactone) threads, which last anywhere between 12 and 18 months.
Threads can be used for all types of skin. However, the number of threads used will differ from one kind of skin to another, depending on its thickness and the strength of pull needed. The absorbable threads currently being used for this kind of procedure are very safe since they are easily absorbed by the body and, in the process of doing that, will form a layer of collagen fibres around them, improving the skin quality and firmness of the area even after the threads are absorbed.
This makes a thread lift a two-pronged anti-ageing attack. In addition to lifting the skin, it provokes the body’s ‘healing response’ and causes the body to direct large surges of collagen to treated areas, which in turn plumps the skin, making it look healthier and younger.
Providing ongoing and progressive rejuvenation for the facial tissues, a thread lift offers a gradual improvement to the skin’s tone and firmness. While the threads are in place, the body’s healing response will be constantly activated because it wants to ‘heal’ the sutured areas and expel the sutures – something it’s biologically programmed to do when it senses any foreign object present within the dermis.
While a thread lift is not a replacement for a facelift or even a mini-facelift, it’s is an extremely effective procedure for those who are starting see the effects of gravity and dwindling collagen production that results in skin laxity and sagging – i.e. someone like me. The vastly reduced recovery period (five days as opposed to the intensive recovery period that follows a full face lift) is just the proverbial cherry on top.
They’re also low risk, thanks to how non-invasive they are, with virtually no risk of scarring, severe bruising, bleeding, or other complications. In rare cases, patients may experience irritation or infection. And in some cases, sutures may become visible under the skin, but if this happens, they can simply be removed – the patient’s face will return to its prior state. And since thread lifts are much easier to perform than facelift surgery, they’re much more affordable, making them a great interim procedure if you’re planning to have a facelift in years to come, but haven’t quite decided yet.
Obviously, a thread lift isn’t something to be undertaken without major investigation, so after doing a lot of research and digging for personal recommendations, I booked in for a consultation with Dr. Dany Kayle – a renowned, Dubai-based plastic surgeon who has performed thousands of successful procedures over the course of his career and been dubbed ‘King of the Thread Lift’. And while I’m not one to be lulled into a false sense of security by catchy nicknames, I can attest that Dr. Kayle’s glittering reputation as a master of surgery with exceptional pre- and post-care is more than warranted.
Watch The Video: The Lowdown On Lucy’s Thread Lift
WHAT DID YOU DO TO PREPARE?
Literally nothing. Just clear my (incredibly empty) social diary of anything for the next five days while the swelling and any bruising subsided. With that in mind, the fact that we have to wear a face mask almost all of the time makes the premise of venturing out more bearable whilst you recover – one of the few silver linings of this dismal time we’re living in.
HOW DOES IT FEEL WHEN YOU’RE HAVING IT DONE?
You’re given local anaesthetic in your face and, if you’re having fat injections as a filler too, the area from which the fat is being taken. Once that kicks in, I can honestly say you’ll feel nothing. You’ll be aware of what’s happening, of course, and feel a sensation of movement – but that’s all. It’s a very peculiar thing to know that you’re having some pretty major things done, and (kind of) see it happening, but not feeling the process. From the first part – the liposuction, for all intents and purposes – to the insertion of threads, fat injections, and finally botox, there’s a lot going on. I still didn’t feel a thing. Anaesthetic is awesome.
WHAT DID YOU LOOK LIKE AFTERWARDS?
Not as bad as I thought I was going to look! Obviously, my face was pretty swollen, but the immediate lifting and tightening effect was remarkable. I knew that the swelling would go down eventually, so the initial panic over my very puffy face was fleeting. I looked weird, admittedly, but I’d just had wires and syringes full of fat inserted into my face, so it was no wonder I wasn’t looking quite as I had a few hours prior.
HOW DO YOU FEEL LATER ON?
Much like after you’ve had an injection at the dentist – my lips felt rather tingly once the feeling started to return to my face. Eating and drinking just isn’t possible, though. I attempted to have a cup of tea once I got home, and may as well have just poured it directly down my top.
HOW DID YOU LOOK AND FEEL THE FOLLOWING DAY?
Dr Kayle had advised me to sleep on my back and place pillows on either side of me to minimise the chance of rolling onto my face in the night, which worked a treat. In the morning, my face felt a bit sore, and I occasionally felt a twinge close to my ears where the thread was inserted when I spoke or smiled, but that was about it. There was literally zero bruising to be seen, which was amazing. I did look really puffy and swollen though, and when I smiled, it definitely was not the smile I usually see. Because of the fat injections, the area between my lip and nose looked noticeably different, making me look a bit simian. Oh, and my cheeks were really pronounced. I had a minor wobble looking in the mirror for the first time – the dreaded what-have-I-done fear set in. But a rather panicked WhatsApp message to Dr. Kayle later, I was reassured that this was entirely expected and would soon subside. I just had to give it time.
What was definitely the most uncomfortable thing was the area surrounding the incisions where fat had been taken. The incisions are very small, but they will seep liquid for a couple of days afterwards and, since it’s been subjected to a lot of unusual activity, it’s no surprise that your thighs feel rather sore. But nothing horrific. My bum was a little bit bruised, but that was to be expected. After a couple of days, it was all back to normal.
Watch The Video: The Results Of Lucy’s Thread Lift
HOW LONG UNTIL THE SWELLING SUBSIDES?
After five days, I started to look a little less like I’d been in the ring with Connor McGregor, and a little more like myself. Almost all the swelling had gone after two weeks, and I could clearly see the effects of the threads and fat injections kicking in. My skin was literally glowing – a combination of the fat plumping out hollows in my cheeks and the fact that the threads boost collagen production. The trauma encourages the body to make more collagen to heal the area. And aside from the occasional twinge under the skin close to my ear, there was no pain at all. In fact, I’d go as far to say I’ve had bikini waxes that were more painful than this entire procedure.
WHAT ABOUT A MONTH LATER?
So the ultimate test: coffee with a friend who I hadn’t seen since last October. In between sipping her post-yoga latte, she asks, ‘What skincare are you using at the moment? You look 10 years younger!’ SUCCESS! The fact that my skincare is the same as it was when I saw her last confirms that having a thread lift was absolutely the right decision. The imperceptible enhancement has made me look like myself, only better – and thrillingly, younger, according to my coffee-drinking companion. Did I tell her what I had done? Of course! What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t share the secret behind my newly improved face?
IS IT WORTH DOING?
100%! I’ve always known that I’ll want a facelift when the ravages of time can no longer be solved with a quick-fix tweakment, but when you’re not quite ready for one and need to put the brakes on gravity, a thread lift works wonders. Of course, it helps to go to the best in the business – Dr. Kayle was fantastic from start to finish.
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH IT?
I really am. There were times when I was genuinely worried that the swelling was not going down, but much like I over-scrutinised myself on those Zoom calls, I was doing the same here. Once the swelling had subsided, my face looked exactly as it did before – 10 years ago. The contours look lifted, the sagging around the jowl area is no longer the first thing I notice, and my skin looks plumped and radiant. I’m thrilled to bits.
WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN?
Absolutely. As the halfway house between short-term lifting treatments and an actual facelift, this gives excellent results and lasts for anything up to two years. The lift – both literally and metaphorically – has been immense, boosting both my self-esteem and overall mood. The feeling down in the mouth in every sense of the term is something that truly has disappeared. As far as making me feel better about myself and winding back the clock a few years, this thread lift has been a total game-changer.