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Cheap face-lift is no bargain, a study finds

May 21, 2009 |  5:54 pm

Thread-lifts -- less pricey kinds of face-lifts that tug the facial skin upward using implanted metal barbed threads -- don't work well and cannot be recommended, according to a study in the May/June Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery. Here's the abstract -- this is one of those journals that won't let you read the whole article unless you pay -- and here's a Reuters story on the study.

You can see why people have opted for the thread-lifts: they cost $1,500 to $4,500, according to the Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery (www.yourplasticsurgeryguide.com). Face-lifts, according to the same site, cost $6,000 to $15,000.

In the small study of 33 patients, New York state researchers (using independent assessors) compared  the results of three kinds of treatments: thread-lifts alone, other kinds of procedures such as fat injection and chemical peels, or thread-lifts plus those other kinds of procedures.

At one month, all three groups showed improvement. But when faces were assessed an average of 21 months on -- a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 31 months -- improvements persisted only in the groups who'd had nonsurgical treatments, plus or minus thread-lifts. Those who'd had thread-lifts alone showed no persistent improvement.

The authors' conclusion: thread-lift improvements probably relied only on temporary facial swelling. Once the swelling went away -- pretty much nada.

"Given these findings, as well as the measurable risk of adverse events and patient discomfort, we cannot justify further use of this procedure for facial rejuvenation," the authors concluded.

-- Rosie Mestel

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