What Are PDO Threads? 12 Things To Know

There is no shortage of cosmetic treatments to choose from today. Volume restoration, wrinkle correction, and hydration are all within reach. But one therapy that combines these effects doesn’t exist…or does it? At Old Town Med Spa in Chicago, IL, we have such a treatment. PDO threads can effectively address a laundry list of concerns, provide long-lasting results, and keep you out of surgery.

What Are PDO Threads? 12 Things To Know

1. Each Thread Is Thinner Than a Strand of Hair

Each medical-grade polydioxanone (PDO) thread is made of protein and thinner than a strand of hair. Clinical studies confirm that once in place, these threads relax tendons and muscles to smooth the skin. Keep in mind that every time you make a facial expression, the muscles involved contract in a way that also moves the skin. By relaxing the former, we also give the latter a rest so your face looks softer.

2. A Great Alternative To a Surgical Facelift

Threads can address many of the same concerns as a surgical facelift, albeit in a much different way. First, this therapy does not require anesthesia or incisions, so you can drive home after the session and care for yourself without the assistance of a friend or family member. Second, it poses a minimal recovery period with few limitations; many patients go right back to whatever they were doing before treatment.

Rather than manually lift and pull your skin into place, PDO threads get inserted precisely where rejuvenation is desired. This process is much less traumatizing than surgery but still delivers results that help restore your natural contours.

How Threads Work

At this point, you’re probably wondering what the actual therapy is like. We administer the threads close to the skin’s surface using a thin needle or cannula. Keep in mind these materials are very thin, so the holes used to place them are microscopic. And we use a general anesthetic to reduce any sense of discomfort.

The face-lifting action is achieved as we use the threads to gently move loose, sagging tissues into a higher position. The threads are then anchored in place to maintain the smooth, taut effect. With time, the skin stays lifted even as the threads dissolve (we’ll tell you why in just a moment). This therapy therefore accomplishes two goals: it erases fine lines and wrinkles in the treatment spot and lifts sagging skin to restore a more youthful appearance.

3. The Threads Simply Dissolve

Once the threads are in place, you don’t need to do anything further. Many patients think they must return to our office for removal or care for them in a specialized manner at home – but neither is accurate. Instead, the threads simply dissolve within the body both safely and gradually.

We know this to be true thanks to their long medical history; PDO threads have been used for procedures like open-heart surgery since the 1960s. The protein itself is one of the safest materials we can put into the body, and once your skin fully absorbs it, there’s no scar tissue indicating where the threads were. You can therefore forget about them and embrace your rejuvenated appearance.

4. We Can Treat A Long List of Cosmetic Issues

Because of the “designer” eye look that’s recently grown so popular, with swooshing eyebrows and almond-shaped eyes that tilt provocatively at the outer corners, we often associate threads with the upper third of the face. But this minimally-invasive treatment can treat a wide range of cosmetic concerns, including your:

  • Neck
  • Jowls
  • Jawline
  • Wrinkles around the mouth (lipstick lines)
  • Forehead lines
  • Laugh lines
  • Nasolabial folds
  • Cheeks
  • Crow’s feet
  • Under-eye area

5. Treatment Offers Many Benefits

It’s true that threads immediately lift the skin to address common concerns like crow’s feet, and in so doing, makes for a tighter and smoother canvas. They essentially hold the skin in place, and with the ability to precisely control where the thread goes – into the skin, underlying muscle, or deeper layers of subcutaneous fat – we can deliver personalized results. But this is only the start of the many benefits you can expect to see.


Once the threads are injected, the body recognizes them as foreign invaders and activates what it believes to be the appropriate responses. For the skin, this means amplifying collagen production, a process known technically as neocollagenesis. Collagen is the building block of strong, healthy skin.

To understand better, it’s a key component of the extra-cellular matrix (ECM), the underlying support system that allows skin to skim your bones without folding in on itself. As collagen production naturally slows with time, your skin becomes vulnerable to wrinkles and fine lines. But the targeted “damage” caused by PDO threads ignites this process to restore skin to a thicker, stronger, and plumper state.

Elastin Production

As collagen synthesis increases, so too does elastin. These two proteins work together inside the ECM, and elastin gives skin its elastic nature. When you press a finger to your cheek, the skin bounces back because of elastin. You can therefore see how important its presence is to a youthful appearance.

Hyaluronic Acid

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, we’re now adding hyaluronic acid (HA) to the mix. This naturally-occurring sugar helps form a trio of sorts with collagen and elastin. Its key role is to attract water molecules that keep skin cells well-hydrated. This is why so many topical facial products are made with HA; it moisturizes in a way that gives a bright, healthy glow.

Just as happens with elastin, HA levels also increase as collagen ramps up. It’s a little like the old saying “you can’t have one without the other.” In addition to holding more than 1000 times its weight in water, HA can also:

  • Reduce the appearance of wrinkles
  • Improve acne scars
  • Calm facial redness
  • Soften the skin’s texture

6. You’ll See Long-Lasting Results

We already mentioned you’ll see instant results thanks to the anchoring action of the threads. These effects fade in about six months, but by that time, the benefits of collagen synthesis are visible. It takes your body just 10 to 14 days after treatment to increase collagen production. Then, in the coming weeks and months, you’ll see a softer, more supple complexion with fewer lines and wrinkles.

The results of neocollagenesis peak around six months and can last up to two years. It’s important to note that as long as collagen levels remain high, additional wrinkles will not develop. Think of your face in your teens and throughout your 20s, with its rounded contours and well-defined edges. Most of this was owed to optimal collagen levels, thereby demonstrating the effects this protein has on the skin.

7. Recovery Is Minimal

We already mentioned this, but it’s worth circling back to so you can see little is required of you after treatment. The goal is to make your recovery process, short though it is, as comfortable and effective as possible. In general, we recommend just a few simple steps:

  • Delay heat-driven facial treatments for 10 weeks
  • Avoid dental appointments for four weeks
  • Do not rub or massage the treated area for two weeks
  • Deter from strenuous exercise for 10 to 14 days
  • Wash the treatment site only with a gentle cleanser and lukewarm water
  • Stay out of the sun and places of extreme heat – including tanning beds and saunas, for seven days
  • Skip alcohol and anticoagulants for seven days

8. Treatment Can Be Repeated

Many patients find their results further improve as the PDO threads are absorbed into the skin and collagen synthesis revs up. For this reason, they usually have a thread lift repeated several times, which is perfectly safe to do. You’re not at risk for scarring or long-term side effects, and you can refresh your results as desired.

9. Sessions Are Quick and Convenient

One of the best parts of treatment is its easy nature. We can complete your session in about an hour, sometimes a little less, so you don’t have to give up large chunks of time to achieve the appearance you want. With the exception of a few activities, as mentioned above, patients leave our office and return to their normal activities.

If you’re worried about how you’ll look after treatment, don’t be. Common concerns like swelling and bruising rarely happen with this therapy. And because we numb the treatment site first, we eliminate the potential for discomfort.

10. Most Patients Can Have Treatment

Unlike surgery, with its long list of factors that preclude many patients, a thread lift comes with few exceptions. Namely, those who have not had surgery in the last three to four months, as well as those who do not frequently drink or smoke, can be considered for candidacy. Factors that may preclude you from treatment include:

  • Broken skin or active acne breakouts
  • Susceptibility to cold sores
  • An autoimmune disease or infection
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Nursing

11. Today’s Threads Are Very Different

Thread lifts became popular in the 1990s when the treatment was first introduced as a viable way to lift the skin. But there was a problem: the threads commonly tore or dislodged because they were inherently weak. Patients often needed re-dos after sneezing or coughing – simple movements that took away from the treatment’s numerous benefits.

Fast-forward to today, decades later, and innovations in technology have delivered us stronger, more dependable, and more flexible threads. They’re made to withstand common and repeated facial movements without slipping out of place. In fact, doctors see very few, if any, complications and current threads are durable enough to be used on parts other than the face, including the upper arms, thighs, and abdomen.

12. You Can Combine Treatments

There’s no such thing as taking too much care when it comes to your face, meaning that if you want broader results than threads can provide, we recommend you combine treatments. That’s right – you can pair this therapy with other common modalities like laser treatment, neuromodulators (Botox is among the most popular), and lip fillers. The point is we can create an entirely personalized treatment plan just for you.

One Treatment, Many Benefits

Few cosmetic therapies deliver as many benefits after just one session as PDO threads. They lift and tighten skin, prompt collagen production, and smooth wrinkles. All this is provided with relative ease and minimal discomfort. In addition, you’re not forced to endure a lengthy recovery or put yourself at risk for dangerous side effects. Schedule your consultation today by calling Old Town Med Spa in Chicago, IL.

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