The Suture Lift is a minimally invasive facial rejuvenating procedure that will immediately rejuvenate a tired, or ageing face through the introduction of nonabsorbable, medical threads. Over time the skins texture, elasticity and clarity can all change from the effects of sun damage and normal ageing. In the past the only option for rejuvenating the face has been either a ‘face-lift’, or ‘laser resurfacing’, both of which involve restrictive amounts of ‘down time’ for a lengthy healing process.
The Suture Lift is ideally suited for both men and women whose skin tone has become lax over time with normal ageing, and or from sun damage. Each patient is assessed individually for their suitability and their concerns. If you are unhappy with loose, wrinkled or drooping skin to the cheeks, jowls, corners of the mouth and neck, the Suture Lift may benefit you.
Ideal patients for this procedure are those who are not yet ready for a ‘full face-lift’, or those who have previously had a ‘face-lift’ and just want to improve any residual loose or drooping areas that remain or have sagged again over time. It is also appropriate for someone who does not wish to have an invasive procedure that may produce scarring such as a conventional ‘surgical full face-lift’.
Suture Lift considerations verses conventional face-lift Advantages:
- Less invasive
- Skin procedure only
- Reversible & adjustable
- Quick recovery time
- Very low risk of nerve damage
- No outward signs of scarring
- May not be as effective as a conventional face-lift
- Will not be permanent
- Fold of skin in front of the ear for some weeks
Adapted from a technique used on more than 700 patients in South Africa, the facial Suture Lift involves the insertion of nylon fibres to form an invisible ‘sling’ (like a giant crochet loop) under the skin that both supports and lifts the skin and underlying tissue. The major advantage of the Suture Lift is that it requires only two small nicks to the skin, one behind the ear and the other hidden in the scalp line which unlike the conventional ‘surgical face-lift’ leaves minimal if any scarring and is not noticeable. The results from the Suture Lift are immediate. The skin is elevated and smoothed as the stitches are secured without the associated invasive cutting and stretching of the past ‘surgical face-lift’.
The Suture Lift procedure is usually performed under local anaesthetic the Armadale theatre, however if required it may also be carried out under light sedation at an accredited Day Surgery centre.
The Suture Lift takes approximately one to two hours to perform depending on the number of fibres required to achieve the overall individual look. The area being treated is numb so the patient is comfortable throughout the procedure. Stitches are inserted via a long fine needle under the facial skin usually in the mid to lower facial area. As the stitches enter and exit through the same hole there are no marks to the facial skin. Once all the stitches are in place Dr Rich tightens the fibres, which immediately lift and smooth the skin. The stitches are then carefully tied and hidden behind the ears and in the scalp line. The permanent ‘sling’ or loop that elevates the facial surface remains beneath the skin, but cannot be seen or usually felt. Over time collagen and new tissue grows around the stitches stabilising the skin in its new more youthful position.
Recovery is quick, even though there may be some initial minimal bruising and swelling. Most patients return to work after two to four days; however this largely depends on the individual, their occupation and lifestyle. Make-up can be applied the following day to camouflage any bruising.
Initially there is a wrinkle or fold of excess skin in front of the ear or temple depending on the area lifted. This usually settles over the next few weeks to months. In most cases this is easily camouflaged by pulling the hair forward for this period of time. Most patients are able to return to work after the weekend. Some patients may choose to resume social activities immediately if they camouflage the wrinkling at the sides of their face.
Most patients will experience some initial tightness, which may feel uncomfortable or painful to varying degrees. This usually occurs in the scalp or from behind the ears. Patients are prescribed pain relief for comfort and medication to help them sleep if there is a concern. Each patient has a nurse’s mobile phone number for out of hours contact if any concern arises. Most patients experience little if any problems, with any discomfort settling over time.
As this is a relatively new procedure and there are no long-term studies as to the longevity of the procedure, we cannot give patients definite answers of how long the results will last.
It is possible for the ‘lifting sutures’ to loosen over time and regrettably just as with the more ‘invasive face-lift’, the sutures will not stop the normal ageing process. If any looseness does occur, more sutures can be inserted to once again elevate and support the skin. Once an area has been treated, it does not restrict the same area being treated again, either by more sutures or a facelift.
Risks and Complications
Complications are very rare; however as with any medical procedure there are some potential risks that you do have to consider. These include:
- Sutures being too tight, breaking or sutures can be felt
- Asymmetry, depression, dents, irregularity or rippling of the skin
- Fullness in the cheeks
- Nerve damage
- Stitch extrusion
Certainly to date the most common problem to occur is the ‘stitch extrusion’. This is usually nothing more than an inconvenience and a minor annoyance to the patient The threads holding the lift are knotted under the skin, when extrusion occurs it means the thread pushes its way to the skins surface. This never alters any lift and to date has never caused an infection, it merely means the patient must return to have the stitch reburied. As the suture fibre is made from a medical nylon material, it would be extremely rare for an allergic reaction to occur.
Are there any scars from the sutures?
There will be a small mark from the nick to the skin behind the ears and in the scalp line where the suture fibre is attached, however this is minimal and not in obvious sight.
What happens to the loose skin created by the suture lift?
From past experience all loose skin or folds settle into place on the face. If any wrinkling or excess skin does not resolve, laser therapy may be used to help tighten the skin, or an excision of excess skin can be performed. Dr Rich has to date, never had to perform any further procedure to rectify folds.
What happens if I am unhappy with the procedure?
If for any reason patients are unhappy with the procedure, sutures can be removed within a few days to week.
‘Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.’