Social media is the go-to source for every new beauty trend. Some are genius, while others quickly seal their fate in the beauty trend graveyard. And then there are the videos that make you question what’s in front of your eyes. Case in point: the nose thread lift, a controversial treatment that uses threads to enhance the nose (typically inserted into the face and neck).
The PDO (an absorbable polymer) nose thread lift started in Korea. “There was so much success with nonsurgical face and neck lifts that it’s a natural progression to see where else threads could be useful,” says East Greenwich, RI dermatologist Caroline Chang, MD. “The nose is logical because many patients ask about nose revisions.”
But is this one treatment to steer clear of despite what you hear and see? We spoke with top doctors for the inside scoop.
How a Nose Thread Lift Works
If you’ve ever watched a thread lift video, then you’ve seen the squeamish process that involves numbing the face, creating an entry point and placing multiple threads, and, finally, pulling them into place for a lifting effect. Using threads in the nose follows those same quick steps. Inserting three or four threads (some patients need more over several sessions) into the tip of the nose and then pulling them toward the bridge (three more go there) lifts the nose instantly for added definition that lasts a few months. Sometimes, doctors also use neuromodulators and fillers for better results.
Threads give the illusion of improvement by slightly changing the diameter of the nose by a few millimeters—for some patients, this is all they need or want—with little downtime. According to Wayne, NJ facial plastic surgeon Jeffrey Wise, MD, threads can potentially rotate the nose and upturn the tip temporarily. They can also smooth the bridge by moving around tissue for a thinner-looking nose. But can’t conceal humps and bumps or change the shape or structure of the nose like rhinoplasty. Surgery or an injectable nose job is a better choice in those cases.
Some doctors call the nose thread lift a dodgy procedure, which isn’t for everyone. “They work for a specific patient, like those with thicker skin looking to elevate the tip and slightly straighten the nose without surgery,” says New York facial plastic surgeon Jennifer Levine, MD.
Why Doctors Warn Against Them
Threads may be helpful for lifting, sculpting, and contouring the face and neck. But that’s not always the case when it comes to the nose. “For nonsurgical rhinoplasty, they are less gratifying. Patients can experience pain and palpability due to the rigid structure and superficial placement of the treads,” says Palo Alto, CA plastic surgeon David Boudreault, MD.
Data on nose threads is lacking, which can be enough for doctors to avoid the procedure. Droopiness is also a major concern. Dr. Chang says threads are weighty, and inserting too many can cause drooping, swelling, and scar tissue from increased weight.
“There’s no risk of vascular necrosis like fillers, so threads are safer from that standpoint,” says Pasadena, CA plastic surgeon Lily Lee, MD. But that doesn’t mean they are risk-free, and placing threads too close to the skin can injure it.
The irreversibility of a nose thread lift is another thing to consider. Liquid nose jobs are dissolvable with hyaluronidase, but there’s no antidote for threads gone wrong. Although Dr. Chang says barbed threads that catch on the skin likely cause puckering on the face or neck, “in the nose, there should be minimal puckering along the course of the thread.” However, infection, chronic swelling, extreme bruising, inflammation, irregularities, extrusion, and nodules are all possible side effects.
To Thread or Not to Thread
Some doctors are for nose thread lifts; others are not. Dr. Chang performs them on patients wanting minimal downtime and no general anesthesia. On the other hand, Chicago plastic surgeon Julius Few, MD, does not condone nasal threads and says it’s something he would never do. “I would be reluctant to perform this primarily because of the delicate nature of the nose,” he adds.
So, should you get a nose thread lift or stick to tried-and-true solutions? It depends on how much correction you’re looking for and the risks you are willing to take. Dr. Wise prefers non-surgical rhinoplasty, combining hyaluronic acid fillers and Botox Cosmetic. “It’s a more durable change that’s safer and more predictable.” Our advice: Don’t trust your nose to just anyone—only a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon with experience using threads in the nose should perform the procedure.