Facelift vs. Thread Lift

The facelift has maintained its status as one of the most popular and effective surgical procedures available for facial cosmetic enhancement in the U.S. for many years. While facelift surgery is often an ideal option for both women and men seeking to reduce signs of facial aging and restore a more youthful appearance, a variety of advances made over the years have resulted in alternative procedures that can address similar concerns. A non-surgical treatment such as a thread lift is one such option. With this in mind, it is important to understand the distinctions between these two procedures in order to determine whether facelift surgery or a thread lift is more compatible with your specific needs and goals at the current time. 

Here is a brief overview of both treatments that can give you an idea of the comparative advantages and disadvantages of each procedure: 


A surgical facelift performed by our board-certified plastic surgeon, Mark Richards, MD, can rejuvenate the lower half of the face by tightening the underlying muscles, gently removing excess skin, and restoring facial definition. A neck lifting component is part of the facelift procedure to address loose, hanging tissues and skin creases in the neck area. Dr. Richards uses innovative techniques for his facelift procedures to create the most natural-looking results possible. A facelift can be considerably beneficial for patients who are experiencing worsening signs of aging around the mouth, jawline, and neck areas. Facelift surgery should yield results that last for decades after the procedure, essentially “resetting” the clock and giving patients a youthful appearance for an extended period of time. However, it’s important to remember that a facelift rejuvenates the lower half of the face. If full face rejuvenation is needed, additional surgical or non-surgical treatments will be combined with the facelift surgery. An example would be eyelid surgery. Additionally, a facelift requires a recovery period that typically lasts about two weeks before most normal daily activities can be resumed. Dr. Richards’ facelifts typically leave fine incisional scars that are placed in easily concealable areas.

Thread Lift and Wrinkle Reduction with Nova PDO Threads 

A thread lift can be used to enhance virtually any area of the face and neck. While it addresses some of the same concerns that a facelift improves, this technique does so in a much different way. PDO threads are used for two purposes: to enhance collagen growth and rebuild it in the skin, and/or to hold the skin in a lifted position for an extended period of time. Dr. Richards utilizes the advanced Nova PDO Threads—absorbable suture threads made of polydioxanone (PDO)—for these procedures. 

For enhancing skin collagen to reduce wrinkles or build up natural aesthetic landmarks, PDO threads are precisely inserted in areas where rejuvenation is desired. There, they will be absorbed into the skin and stimulate collagen growth to create a more youthful appearance by reducing wrinkles and skin laxity. This process ultimately leads to skin that looks smoother and younger. Enhancing lip line definition and improvement in deep skin creases and superficial wrinkled skin areas can all be treated with fine PDO threads that stimulate collagen renewal.

The face-lifting function of the PDO threads occurs when the larger microscopic barbed PDO sutures are used. Thread face lifting involves the placement of these threads through a hypodermic needle puncture under local anesthesia in the office. These tiny Velcro hooks, made of the same material as the PDO threads, are threaded through the sagging tissues in order to engage the skin and surrounding tissue to hold it in a lifted position. This lift is maintained as the threads transition into collagen, giving results that last for one to two years. 

Three of the most prominent benefits of a thread lift are: it does not require invasive surgery; it has minimal recovery with few limitations; it has a much smaller cost. In fact, many patients who undergo thread lifting do not need a period of downtime at all. For patients who are looking for a less expensive and less invasive alternative to facelift surgery, a thread lift may be an ideal choice. The downside of a PDO thread lift is that threads can only give about 30% of the improvement of a facelift, and the results last one to two years instead of up to 20 years. Still, for many with minimal to moderate signs of facial aging and a lack of time for recovery, threads provide a wonderful option. 

It is important to remember that a thread lift may not be the right option for individuals who have more severe signs of aging. A facelift is often more appropriate in those cases. Also, the results of a thread lift cannot last nearly as long. 

Whether a facelift or a thread lift is the better option for your needs is dependent on the nature of your concerns and your current goals for treatment. Patients who wish to avoid surgery and recovery at the present time may wish to consider a non-surgical alternative such as a thread lift. However, some patients may have aging and expectations that make facelift surgery the most effective option. The best way to find out whether facelift surgery or thread lifting will be the ideal treatment is to consult with an experienced plastic surgeon such as Dr. Richards, who will evaluate your needs and provide you with a thorough and honest assessment.

Ready To Get Started?

Call 301.468.3458

Email Us