Experts have been busy trying to find a way to turn back the hands of time and rid our skin of wrinkles without putting us through the arduous task of going through a conventional facelift, tummy tuck or any other kind of skin tightening procedure.
In December 2015, the FDA approved the cosmetic use of NOVATHREADS—A technology that uses dissolvable threads to tighten the skin on the face, neck or anywhere on the body. The threads are made up of polydioxanone, which has been used in surgical procedures for decades. Other countries have also adopted the use of these threads for cosmetic purposes for years, but it is still relatively new in the US.
There are two techniques that the NOVATHREADS are being used for. The first is the NuLift, in which the thread is used to grip and pull the skin tight. The second is the NuMesh, in which the thread is used to create a mesh under the skin, sort of like a hash tag. The mesh causes the skin to repair itself from underneath, causing it to produce more collagen to make the skin look tighter and more youthful.
Connectwithlife.com spoke to LA based board certified facial plastic surgeon and medical director of NOVATHREADS, Dr. Kian Karimi, to find out more about this new technology.
CWL: What is the simplest way to describe the NOVATHREAD NuLift to the layperson?
Dr. Kian: I would describe it as dissolvable threads that are placed under the skin, in different areas, to achieve lifting of the areas like cheeks, jowls and neckbands.
CWL: Do patients need to go under a general anesthetic?
Dr. Kian: It’s done in the office, awake, just with some local anesthetic and it can actually lift the cheeks up, it can tighten around the jaw. It can lift little bands under the neck. Essentially it’s like a non-surgical lift done in the office, relatively painlessly.
CWL: What do you actually do with the thread?
Dr. Kian: The thread is placed under the skin and several of them are placed to create the lift in one spot. They are dissolvable, so after some time you would have to repeat the procedure, just like with fillers.
CWL: How long does it last?
Dr. Kian: It lasts at least six months, but depending on the number of threads, it can last for up to a year. I actually prefer my patients come back at six months and if we needed, we would just add one or two more threads at that time.
CWL: Who is the best candidate for this?
Dr. Kian: The appropriate candidate is someone who has moderate drooping of the cheeks, so probably someone in their thirties to fifties or so. In this part of the world, people take such good care of themselves that I see fifty and even sixty year olds that are still candidates for this procedure. A good candidate is someone who doesn’t truly need a major face lift, because this doesn’t really replace a facelift. It’s not actually removing extra skin, but for someone who’s younger and starting to have issues with their drooping cheeks and drooping jowls, this is a really nice way to keep things tight until they’re ready for a surgical procedure.
CWL: Who is NOT a good candidate for this surgery?
Dr. Kian: [Someone who has unrealistic expectations of what this can achieve is not a good candidate. If they have a lot of extra skin, or a lot of drooping and extra skin that really needs to be addressed with a facelift, then I’ll recommend that they don’t do this procedure because they may be disappointed.
CWL: Why would you choose this as opposed to fillers to get rid of your wrinkles?
Dr. Kian: With fillers, yes, you can get some nice contours but you’re just adding more volume and if you may get these over inflated faces that can lead to a problem. This is the first time where we’ve actually been able to truly lift the tissues in the office with no down time.
CWL: What kind of bruising/swelling do patients have to deal with?
Dr. Kian: The tips of the threads are actually blunt, and that’s a new development, so the bruising has practically been eliminated with that. There are usually a few days of swelling, it’s not terrible though. It usually goes away after a couple of days.
CWL: Are there any complications that can occur from the NuLift?
Dr. Kian: The worst thing that can happen is a bruise or some temporary irregularity of the skin. Sometimes the skin can get a little bit bunched before it smooths out and relaxes. If this happens it’s usually for one to two weeks, tops. There’s really no permanent damage that can come from this.
CWL: What’s the difference between NuLift and the NuMesh treatment?
Dr. Kian: With the NuMesh, we actually put the threads in a crisscross, like a hash-tag pattern, right under the skin. The needle loads the thread in it so when you put the needle under the skin and take it out; it leaves the thread there. We’re using dissolvable suture material to produce bio stimulation of the skin. Then the way to actually lift the tissues in the office is with the NuLift. The NuMesh is for fine crêpe-ey skin or if you’re trying to improve the skin quality in one area, then that’s the way to do that. With the NuMesh though, you have to do a series of those to get the improvement.
CWL: How does the NuMesh improve the quality of the skin?
Dr. Kian: The fibroblasts—which are the cells that make collagen—are stimulated by breaking down these threads and that’s what leads to the increase collagen levels and the resulting improvement of the skin.
CWL: So if you want the lines to disappear do you need a combination of the NuMesh and the Botox?
Dr. Kian: NuMesh is not a replacement for Botox because it doesn’t limit muscle movement. NuMesh is really a way to improve skin quality. The line becomes less pronounced but if you’re concentrating and furrowing your brows, you would do Botox first to soften that area and then any residual lines that are there, that’s where this NuMesh technique can be great, to help soften those.
CWL: What is the recovery time for the NuMesh?
Dr. Kian: There is usually some bruising for two to three days, because there are a lot of fine little needles that go under the skin.
CWL: Is there a lot of blood or poking holes?
Dr. Kian: There’s not a lot of blood, no. These are very, very fine little needles. We put a little numbing cream on the skin and that’s it. It’s very tolerable.
CWL: So can someone get the NuLift continually every six months? Or after a certain number of years is it best to stop?
Dr. Kian: They could, absolutely get this treatment indefinitely. It’s a thread material that’s been used in plastic surgery and other surgery specialties for over thirty years in this country. It’s a really safe and time-tested suture material.