In cosmetic surgery, the face lift, or ridectomy, is mostly performed as a surgical operation under general anaesthesia. A heavy and sophisticated procedure, aiming at lifting the skin of the face to tighten it upwards, to compensate for the effects of gravity and especially, of ageing. In the field of facial plastic surgery to alleviate sagging skin, many other treatments are now available: fractional radiofrequency, laser, ultherapy (ultrasound), botulinum toxin (botox) injections, etc.
But like yoghurt, soda or cigarettes, there is also a light version of the face lift: tensor lifts also called Russian threads (they were invented by Russian medical researchers in the 1990s), or notched threads, because of the tiny teeth running along their entire length. The application of tensor lifts, under the facial epidermis, is a quick and painless facial smoothing technique, without scalpel or skin removal, and with an immediately visible lifting effect. In addition, it stimulates collagen production, providing a “healthy glow” effect. A highly effective, discreet and financially more accessible skin resurfacing for patients wishing to give their face a new youthful look without resorting to plastic surgery.
What are tensor lifts?
Originally, tensor sutures were used in many medical applications for internal or external healing: cardiovascular, neurological, obstetric, muscular or even ophthalmological operations. These sutures are micro encrusted, monofilament, generally dark blue in colour, made either of synthetic material (polypropylene) for permanent sutures, or of biodegradable polymer or cornstarch for their resorbable version. In recent years, tensor lifts have entered the field of plastic surgery, offering a very interesting alternative to surgical facelifts for face and body lifting procedures. Introduced through a tiny hole in the skin and anchored on muscular points near the treated area (forehead, temples, jaw or neck muscles), they allow the skin to be lifted and tension to be restored to certain facial areas. Once introduced into the hypodermis, the notched threads are invisible to the naked eye.
What type of face should I use tensor lifts for?
Tensor sutures are suitable for all types of face, male or female, whose external tissues are sagging. This phenomenon, also known as facial ptosis, is universal and natural, as the skin loses its tension and firmness with age. This non-invasive surgical procedure, more often requested in women than in men, is aimed at people who may be bothered by the first effects of ageing that start to show on the cheekbones and cheeks of their face, and when the facial furrows become deeper. The areas most frequently treated are the oval and cheeks, but also the neck and eyebrows. This light and convincing aesthetic solution is however limited in time, their effectiveness lasting between one and five years, depending on whether they are resorbable or permanent, and on the brand used. The nature of the epidermis, but also the patient’s lifestyle (smoking, alcohol…) and her ability to maintain her skin and protect herself from the harmful effects of the sun, also come into play. In all cases, it is easy to reintroduce new tensor lifts to tighten the skin again. And if the result is not satisfactory, the incriminating threads can be easily removed and the epidermis will return to its previous appearance. Tensor sutures, whether absorbable or permanent, are appreciated by plastic surgeons for their durability and the human body’s tolerance to their presence. Their defects: fragility, extreme flexibility, cost and more difficult handling than nylon sutures, hence the need to be applied by experienced surgeons specialised in this technique.
At what age should I have tensor lifts?
Tensor lifts can be applied from the age of 35, but are most often used for people over 45. After the age of 70, plastic surgeons generally recommend other face-lift techniques. Tensor lifts are not recommended for women over 60 who have never had plastic surgery. For them, other more invasive techniques (facelift, bichectomy, botox…), but more durable, are better suited.
Resorbable or permanent tensor lifts, which to choose?
Depending on your age, type of face and whether your skin is thicker or thinner, your plastic surgeon will recommend absorbable or permanent tightening threads. The price difference between the two types of thread is not a factor, as the prices are relatively similar. However, as absorbable threads have to be replaced after approximately one year, it is more economical to choose permanent threads. The choice will ultimately depend on the diagnosis made by your plastic surgeon, but also on your long-term budget.
How long do tensor lifts last?
Depending on the brand, but also on the type of epidermis and the patient’s lifestyle, absorbable tensor lifts last between 12 months and 5 years. Afterwards, they gradually dissolve in the body, and the skin returns to its pre-treatment position. Permanent tensor lifts, again depending on the brand used and the type of skin, last between 5 and 10 years. They can be easily removed and replaced by new threads.
What are the potential complications and contraindications of tensor lifts?
Medical and plastic complications observed over the past decade are very rare. It is sometimes possible for persistent skin redness to appear along the thread path, but this resolves after several weeks. Abscesses or necrosis of the skin may also occur. In this case, the surgeon can easily remove the threads and the skin returns to its normal appearance. Intolerance to absorbable tensioning sutures, such as strong irritation, has been observed, as well as inflammation of the dermis, due to their resorption. This type of complication does not exist with permanent tensor lifts.
Tensor lifts, botox, facelift, hyaluronic acid, remodelling or Hifu, which technique to choose?
Compared to other facelift techniques, tensor lifts are the least invasive, most discreet and most effective. But they are also more expensive than botox or hyaluronic acid injections. It all depends on your budget, but above all on the treatment best suited to the nature of the epidermis and the age of each patient: the final decision will therefore be taken after the medical diagnosis and the recommendations of your plastic surgeon.
How is the installation of tensor lifts carried out?
After the preliminary interview during which your plastic surgeon will examine your skin, musculature and facial structure in detail, he will confirm the option of the tightening threads, recommend the most suitable absorbable or permanent tightening threads, or may advise you of other aesthetic solutions that are best suited to your case. After taking photographs of your face from all angles, he will draw the path and position of each tensor thread on your skin to achieve maximum effect. One to four tensor lifts on each side of the face are usually used.
Before the wire is inserted into the target area, the surgeon performs a local anaesthetic where the wire will be inserted. He then makes a needle hole and inserts the thread following the desired line. The session lasts about 1 hour, including about twenty minutes devoted to the insertion of the threads. The procedure is painless and the result is invisible.
What happens after the placement of tensor lifts?
After the placement of the tensor lifts, some surface irregularities due to a slight subcutaneous inflammation and corresponding to the thread design, may persist for a few hours or days. After the placement, a small dimple forms at the point of insertion of the tensor thread, which disappears after a few hours.
Patients can return to their normal activities the day after the operation. Unless the surgeon has chosen to use non-absorbable sutures, which may require one or two days of rest. In the days that follow, the treated area should be protected: avoid going to the dentist, opening your mouth wide to yawn or bite into an apple, or eating foods that require a lot of chewing. If the tensioning sutures have been placed in the neck area, avoid turning your head or looking up. In this case, a neck brace may be recommended for a few days.
Afterwards, it is of course advisable to continue to take good care of your skin, preferring gentle cosmetic products based on natural ingredients, and avoiding unprotected exposure to the sun. Smoking and alcohol consumption are also aggravating factors for skin ageing.
What is the aesthetic result of tensor lifts?
The skin and subcutaneous tissues are instantly re-tensioned with the notched sutures, giving an immediate visible aesthetic result and a lasting “healthy glow” effect. The lifespan of absorbable threads is between one and two years, after which it is possible to repeat the operation as many times as necessary, or to choose another facelift technique. The longevity of permanent, non-absorbable threads is longer, at least five years, with a result comparable to a surgical lift. Permanent, non-absorbable tensor sutures, which can be easily removed, do not preclude the possibility of a surgical facelift at a later date.
Is it possible to have tensor lifts placed elsewhere than on the face?
tensor lifts are already widely used in internal and external general surgery, so they can be offered not only for the face (the most frequently treated areas are the oval and cheeks, as well as the eyebrows), but also for lifting the neck and throat area. They can also be applied to the knees, arms, buttocks or stomach. However, as the areas to be tightened are more extensive, a lot of threads are needed, which can be very costly.
Why should I have my tensor sutures done in Turkey?
Aesthetic clinics and plastic surgeons, especially in Istanbul, Turkey, enjoy an international reputation and are known for their experience and use of the most innovative techniques and brands available on the market, especially for tightening threads. In addition, they practice their art at prices 50 to 80% lower than those charged in France, Belgium or Switzerland. These reasons explain the success of medical tourism in Istanbul, and the quality of service offered by specialised agencies, such as Body Expert, which provide their clients with dedicated assistants, ensuring accompaniment and translation into the patients’ language. Not to mention the tremendous tourist appeal of Istanbul, Turkey’s historical, cultural and economic capital.
What is the price of tensor lifts?
The prices observed for tensor lifts include a complete placement of several tensor lifts on each side of the face. Prices vary according to the type of thread (absorbable or not), the brand used and the number of threads placed.
- Turkey: 750 to 1500€.
- US : $1500 to $4500
- UK : £800 to £2,400
- NL : 1500 to 3000€.
- Switzerland: 3000 to 6000€.
- Morocco: 1500 to 3000€.
- Tunisia: 1200 to 2000€.