The Miracu Thread-lift, a non-surgical, no-scar facelift, is generating quite a buzz in South Africa. The treatment, which has been a hot favourite in Europe and the East for a few years, is now available in South Africa.
What Happens During a Miracu Thread-lift?
During the procedure, which only medical doctors are qualified to perform, multi-strand threads are introduced (once the area has been anaesthetised) through the skin with a micro-needle and gently passed through the fatty layer.
The threads are strategically placed, guided by the natural tension lines of the skin. Once placed, they act as a scaffold, lifting loose and sagging skin. The procedure also stimulates the production of collagen, and further creates a frame for the collagen to attach to, showing effects similar to that of a surgical facelift.
Once the physician is happy with the thread’s direction and lift, the end is passed through the skin once more and simply snipped off, allowing the remaining thread to carry on supporting the treated area(s).
The procedure is relatively pain-free, but to minimise discomfort, a topical anaesthetic is massaged into the area beforehand. Insertion points are then drawn over the treatment area, after which the doctor implants the threading wires into the correct position.
Depending on the treatment area, the treatment takes between 15 and 45 minutes, with no surgical incisions and no downtime afterwards. It provides an immediate result that improves over four to six weeks. Stimulation of one’s own collagen will also take place during the duration of the thread, providing a regenerative effect.
The threads are reabsorbed and dissolved over a period of time, but due to the stimulation of collagen, the treatment shows prolonged rejuvenation effects, says Dr Maureen Allem medical director at Skin Renewal, a leading group of Medical Aesthetic Skin Care Centres which now offers the thread-lift procedure in South Africa. Skin ages when elastin and collagen are depleted, but due to the maximum collagen stimulation and a cell generation boost, the aging process is dramatically slowed down.
What to Expect?
Threading relaxes the muscles, creating an effect similar to Botox, but with a more natural look.
With continual stimulation of blood supply to the treated area, collagen and elastin are boosted. This means that even after just a few days, the treated area looks brighter and healthier. Optimum results, however, are achieved after about three weeks. As the threads are dissolvable, they will last for four to six months, but with the continued collagen stimulation, the lifting and smoothing effect of this treatment lasts for a period of two to three years, says Allem. This treatment is usually recommended for the facial area, but effective results are achieved in any area of the body where lifting is the desired outcome. On the face, it addresses fine lines and wrinkles around the eye and lip area, drooping eyelids and eyebrows, and crow’s feet, and it assists in creating a V-shaped facial outline. On the body, it assists with tightening of the abdomen (especially post-pregnancy), the breast and chest area, bat wing arms, aging hands, sagging buttocks and cauliflower knees.
Additional Specialist Opinion:
Specialists believe this thread-lift is a game changer: “This procedure will change the current face of aesthetic medicine, as we can, for the first time, offer an in-consulting-room treatment with dramatic lifting capability of facial structures and the neck,” says aesthetic doctor Alek Nikolic.
Dr Riekie Smit (RS), speaking on behalf of the Aesthetic and Anti-aging Medicine Society of South Africa (AAMSSA), and Dr Nerina Wilkinson (NW), plastic and reconstructive surgeon from Cape Town on behalf of the Association or Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons of Southern Africa (APRSSA) responded to our Q& A:
Many South African cosmetic doctors have recently been trained to perform the Miracu Threadlift. Who are really qualified to do this procedure and how good is their training?
RS: There are currently many new lifting threads on the market: Silhouette, Miracu, etc – in my opinion, almost too many. The threads market was popular almost a decade ago, but then it was in the form of permanent threads, which did not dissolve or absorb. As with most permanent things, this can also cause permanent problems – it was negative for the threads market and at the time it was mostly done by plastic surgeons.
The new absorbable threads have changed the market dramatically. The fact that they dissolve and stimulate your own collagen makes it a much safer option. Most manufacturers decided to focus on both aesthetic doctors and plastic surgeons. The reason for this is that it is not a surgical procedure, but in-office. It is also safer than surgery – the risk can be compared with that of normal filler injections.
In South Africa, AAMSSA has started a training programme where doctors are approved by three external doctors and plastic surgeons. After this training, the doctor gets a certificate to prove that he or she is qualified to perform the procedure. This helps to control which practitioners may be allowed to do this procedure.
NW: The insertion of PDO (polydioxanone) threads is becoming more common due to the increase in companies making these threads. Threads in the past were more permanent and were therefore marketed and sold only to plastic surgeons, due to the risk of permanent complications. With the newer, dissolvable threads, companies are selling these products to any medical practitioner who has been trained by the company. In Asian countries, the beauticians are inserting threads!
My concern is that even though these threads are not permanent and would therefore be safer than the permanent threads, training should be more comprehensive, as these needles are being passed below the skin surface and there are numerous vital structures, ie nerves and blood vessels, that could be injured during the placement of the thread if the doctor is not well trained in the danger zones.
What should a patient know to make an informed choice about threading?
RS: Patients should do research and ask questions about the product that will be used – it is always safer to stick with a brand that is manufactured by a large and well-known pharmaceutical company. It may be more expensive, but the money they spend on research and safety measures makes it worthwhile. You should also ascertain that the doctor is properly trained and registered with the HPCSA.
NW: Patients must ensure that the doctor has adequate knowledge of the underlying anatomy structures to prevent injury during placement of the threads. It is also important that the doctor is trained in proper sterile technique. Even though this is advertised as a non-surgical procedure, multiple needles are passed under the skin and the suture remains under the skin for a few months. Any non-sterile technique could result in infection under the skin and may require drainage, resulting in irreversible scarring.
Who should not consider this procedure?
RS: It is not recommended for persons with very thin skin, too much loose or sagging skin tissue, too little fat in the face and, of course, someone with unrealistic expectations.
It is important to note that this procedure works best in combination with other medical cosmetic procedures – you will still need Botox for dynamic wrinkles and fillers for volume loss. You will also still need topical skin procedures such as peels, dermabrasion or mesotherapy for skin texture and pigmentation. Threads assist these treatments by lifting deeper tissue. However, threads alone are not going to take 10 years off your looks.
NW: Patients requiring a lift of their faces will be disappointed with the results and will have wasted their money. Threads can improve the tightness of the skin and reduce slight facial lines by improving the collagen of the skin. Any loose skin will not be lifted with these threads.
Is this procedure not intruding on the terrain of plastic surgery?
RS: This procedure is a bit between non-surgical and surgical. Most plastic surgeons will make use of threads during surgery in theatre or during an in-office treatment. Cosmetic doctors will use it alone or in combination with other non-surgical procedures. Threading is marketed to both surgeons and cosmetic doctors, and it is safe in their respective hands, as long as they are well trained.
NW: Plastic surgeons see patients looking for a visible result and will therefore advise patients accordingly. PDO threads will give a subtle tightening of the skin, with a very minimal lift in a younger patient. Due to the very minimal results, plastic surgeons have not embraced PDO threads. It is therefore the general practitioners with a special interest in aesthetic medicine who will be placing these threads. There are some well-trained, reputable doctors who understand the underlying anatomy and the correct indications for PDO threads. Patients should ensure that they choose the right doctors for this procedure.
What Does it Cost?
The cost of the treatment is dependent on the number of threads inserted, which will in turn depend on the area being treated and the severity of the lift needed. At the time of publishing, prices for the threads were quoted at starting from R750 per thread. Patients can also opt to treat one area at a time, thereby making it more affordable.