Lip threads the pros and cons

Thread lifts for sagging jowls are well known but now lips are getting the treatment. But what do the experts think?


Lip threads are yet another treatment made popular by member of the Kardashian family – in this case Kylie Jenner –  and they’re getting a lot of press at the moment. It’s a novel twist on an already established procedure – the thread lift for the face.  The thread lift has been used for quite some time to lift sagging jaw lines and turkey necks, and if done well it can have impressive results. So, lip threads are new twist on an existing treatment, but does that mean we should ditch the filler?


What’s Involved?

According to Consultant Plastic Surgeon Mo Akhavani from The Plastic Surgery Group on Harley Street “the lip threads procedure involves passing a thread along the outline of the lip to make it look more defined and stimulate collagen production.”

The thread is passed through a fine tube and put into place. To make sure the procedure is comfortable a dental block is used or local anaesthetic cream is applied. The latter is the preferred option as the patient can still move the lips making it easier for the practitioner to assess the placement.

The procedure itself only takes about 15 minutes.

The thread is made from either Polydioxanone (PDO) or Poly-L-Lactic acid (PLLA) which dissolve overtime, much like dissolvable stitches used in surgery.

It takes about 6 months for the body to break the lip threads down. When they’re placed in the lip they create a micro-trauma which in turn promotes a healing response (or scarring) and stimulates collagen production. The build up of collagen takes a few months to kick in and it can help increase firmness in the area being treated.

This means that after the threads have dissolved the lip border will still be defined and the results last another 6-9 months. So, depending on your body’s response the results could last 12-15 months. Fillers on the other hand are around 9 months on average.


The End Of Lip Filler?

Some reports on the lip thread procedure say it will replace dermal lip fillers, but Penelope Tympanidis, Consultant Dermatologist and founder of the Harley Street clinic Dermaperfect, disagrees. She says they work well together as they do different things.

“Threads work as biostimulators by triggering production of scar tissue, thus collagen. Hyaruronic acid [dermal filler] restores lost volume. Therefore, threads give firmness but not volume. Volume is restored by hyaluronic acid. We may say that they complement each other,” Dr Tympanidis says.

Both provide an instant result but the threads last longer than the filler, but that can have a downside, according to Mr Akhavani.


Downsides And Downtime?

“If it is poorly placed, which is easily done, it’s a bugger to remove and the patient is likely to suffer a poor outcome,” Mr Akhavani says. “Whereas, with normal lip filler you can dissolve it easily if there’s a problem. Threads can also cause infection and lumps and an uneven look if done badly.”

As it’s not easily reversible you could be left with a result you don’t like for more than a year, but Dr Tympanidis says complications, including lumps and bumps are rare if the procedure is done by a medical practitioner who is well trained and knows the products and techniques well.

“It can be 100% safe if done by a specialist dermatologist,” she says.

She adds that thread lifts in general can be “fantastic for working on multiple smoker’s lines and sagging skin on the sides on the mouth, and the marionette lines.”

The threads used in thread lift and lip threads are slightly different. In the thread lift the threads have tiny barbs or small hook-like features to help pull the skin into a desired position. The ones used on the lips are smooth and are there to create the a ‘form’ rather than holding lax skin in place.

There can be swelling afterwards and bruising which may take a week to ten days to go disappear, and as with anything that involves injections, there is the risk of infection.


The Final Word

With a cost of £500-800 being touted it’s not a cheap procedure.

There is the risk of lumps, bumps and it’s not easily reversible, plus there’s the downtime to consider with swelling and bruising.

On the other hand, there could be times where it could work wonders, such as remodelling a damaged lip border, after too much misplaced filler in the vermillion border. And in the right hands, the effect can be impressive.

But, Dr Akhavani says, “As with all new things …caution is advised”