One of the nicknames for thread lifts that you might see online or hear with your friends is the “lunchtime face lift”. This is because they are relatively quick, simple, and non-invasive, requiring hardly any downtime and usually not showing visible signs that the work was even done.
But as with any medical aesthetics procedure, there is always some element of risk involved. Low as those risks may be when you use proper preparation and after-care, it’s good to be aware of some of the issues you might encounter after a thread lift.
Common Risks of Thread Lifts
Ranked from most common to most rare, here are six risks of getting thread lifts to watch out for:
By far the most common side effect of thread lifts, bruising is your body’s natural reaction to the process of inserting the threads in the dermal layers. For some people it appears as minor discoloration, while others can have more severe bruises across a larger area. We generally advise our patients to expect at least a little bruising, since odds are high you’ll experience it.
With that said, you can decrease your risk by avoiding alcohol before your appointment, scheduling appointments at least a week before or after your period, and keeping the area cold (e.g., with an icepack) for a while afterward. If you are prone to easy swelling or bruising in general, it may be unavoidable – but if you expect it to happen and then don’t bruise, it’s better than the other way around.
This is the next most common risk of thread lifts, occurring in about 2/3 of patients to some extent. If it does happen, the swelling usually doesn’t stay for more than 12-24 hours, but in rare cases, it may remain for a week or so.
Swelling is caused by your underlying tissues reacting to the threads we have introduced. Using icepacks every hour for the first 12 hours after the procedure can reduce the swelling and mitigate the worst effects.
While thread lifts are far less invasive than regular face lifts, with less exposed tissue and numbing needed, there is still work with needles and cannulas involved. Usually, by the time the topical or injectable anaesthetic has worn off, the threads have settled and the discomfort will be negligible. People have different pain tolerances though, and everyone’s facial structure is different – so there are bound to be some exceptions. To help offset this risk, we go beyond the on-site anaesthetics to provide prescriptions for pain medication when you leave the clinic. After a few days, any lingering discomfort should subside permanently.
4. Difficulty Opening Your Mouth
Often related to the presence of swelling and the tightness of the sutures, in rare instances people have identified temporary difficulty with opening their jaw – that is, extending the muscles along the sides of the face.
It’s important to note that this is not as drastic as it sounds; it’s not like your mouth is locked shut. The most common manifestation is the inability open wide or chew strongly for 24-48 hours. In extremely rare cases, the soreness may last up to a week – if you are experiencing effects like this, be sure to let us know so we can recommend the best course of action.
5. Thread Migration
This refers to an issue where a thread releases under the skin in the days following the procedure. Those at highest risk are older patients, with high skin laxity, thin skin tissue, and poor collagen production. Migrating threads can result in one of three types of changes in the lift, which may be visible or invisible:
- The suture releases and the change is apparent only in the one lifted area, and nowhere else on the face. In that case, we go back in and put in another thread to fix the loss of hold.
- The suture releases, but it is only noticeable when the patient smiles or moves their face in a particular way. In these situations, we typically leave the thread because when it dissolves in 3-6 months, it will stimulate collagen and add to the aesthetic look.
- In rare instances, a thread may migrate and become visible at all times, even with neutral expressions. In these cases, it’s easier to see something is “off” – so we try to remove the thread. If we can’t, then we’ll use either heat-based therapy or lasers to speed up the dissolution process.
The most uncommon of all, infections are very rare but the risk does exist. Typically, these will show up within 7-10 days of the procedure, with the cannula insertion site looking like it has a pimple or whitehead on it. This means there is a build-up of bacteria and antibiotics will be needed – in our experience, a week of antibiotics is enough to overcome the infection, as long as proper hygiene is maintained. In very rare situations – so rare, in fact, that we’ve never had it happen at our clinic – the thread may have to be removed in order to give the tissues time to heal. This is only necessary in extreme cases with advanced infections, and we make sure that our patients don’t reach that point without intervention.
Thread Lifts in Calgary, Alberta
We’re always happy to answer all your questions about thread lifts and other medical aesthetic procedures. We’re located right in the heart of Calgary in the historic Mission neighbourhood (4 St SW, by the Elbow River), and our staff of trained technicians and experts can help you discover exactly what would work best for you.
Reach out today to find out how you can look, feel, and be your best!