Thread lifts gone wrong: are the horror stories true?

Today, there are more options to manage ageing than ever before. True, PDO thread lifts have been around for a while, but they’ve become popular in recent years as a gentler alternative to the conventional facelift. But are PDO thread lifts safe? A quick online search (“thread lifts gone wrong”) will show you equal parts scientific data, horror stories, and plain misinformation. Which are the myths and which are the truths about PDO thread lifts? And can you use this non-surgical method to manage signs of ageing— or is it better left alone?

Read on to discover the myths, truths, and science on PDO thread lifts.

The science of ageing. Let’s start at the beginning: with the reasons patients get thread lifts in the first place.

The ageing process begins at a cellular level. When you’re young, your skin is firm, elastic, and resistant to damage thanks to the extracellular matrix. The matrix is the scaffolding that fills the space between cells. This matrix provides support and structure to the cells, keeping the skin smooth and preventing sagging and wrinkles.The most crucial component of this youthful skin matrix is the protein collagen, which your cells naturally renew. But after your 20th birthday, your skin cells gradually lose their ability to produce this essential collagen, at a rate of 1% less a year. This causes the structural support of the matrix to slowly collapse. The effects are the signs of ageing: sagging, crepey skin, lines and wrinkles, and a dull complexion that can’t resist damage well. People have always searched for cosmetic procedures to manage this natural process. Unfortunately, invasive treatments like surgery were the only effective option for a long time. But now, with all the advances of science, we have new and minimally-invasive ageing treatments that are gentle on your body. One of the most effective ones is the PDO thread lift (sometimes called ‘lunchtime facelift’ because of its low time investment).

Definition: what is a PDO thread lift?

A PDO thread lift is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that lifts and tightens sagging skin on the face and body. The procedure involves the placement of fine threads (made of polydioxanone, or PDO) under the skin to add support and lift. The PDO threads are made of a hypoallergenic, biodegradable material that works with your body’s mechanisms and will safely dissolve over time.

How do PDO thread lifts work?

Thread lifts are a non-surgical, minimally-invasive solution to help you manage ageing in a way that empowers you. PDO thread lifts benefits include restoring lost volume, bringing back definition to your features, restoring the glow of your skin, and (of course) smoothing out lines and wrinkles.You can use thread lifts or mini thread lifts to minimise signs of ageing in the face and body. Some popular (and effective!) areas include cheeks and jawline, eye area (for a fox eye look), forehead and eyebrows, and expression lines (like nasolabial folds, marionette lines, or crow’s feet). Threads can also help tighten and define areas in the neck and body (like waistline and thighs).

But how do PDO threads achieve these results?

The material they’re made of, polydioxanone, has been used for medical device tech for some time— and has been thoroughly researched. That’s how we know: PDO can bring your skin’s collagen production into full swing. After your specialist inserts the threads, your body immediately starts trying to dissolve them— because they’re a foreign object. In this process, they stimulate the immune cells (fibroblasts and myofibroblasts) that create collagen. That’s why getting a PDO thread lift is a smarter, gentler way to manage the ageing process. It doesn’t hurt your body— rather, it works with its natural processes to bring back the most glowing you.

What are the risks of thread lifts?

But we’ve all heard the stories. The subject: botched procedures, tissue migration, threads sticking out, even horns. In reality, though the most common risks of a mini facelift are mild side effects:

  • Some pain during and after the procedure (treatment is done with local anaesthetics)
  • Light bruising in the weeks following the PDO thread lift
  • Minor bleeding after the procedure

Other side effects (like an allergy or an infection) are minimal when you get the thread lift from a trained, licensed, and experienced professional. But what if you don’t? If you skimp on investment or don’t research and go with an inexperienced (or at worst, ill-intentioned) provider, the risks increase. Then you have a higher chance of:


  • Scarring
  • Paresthesia (a burning sensation in the skin)
  • Skin dimpling and thread visibility
  • Infection

How can you minimise thread lift risks?

As with any cosmetic procedure, with a PDO thread lift, there will always be some discomfort and mild side effects like puffiness, swelling, and occasionally bruising. But can you prevent more dangerous side effects— and avoid becoming an urban horror story? Thankfully, the answer is yes (for the most part). Mild side effects might be impossible to avoid, but they should subside within the first days to a week of the thread lift. So how to minimise the dangers of any cosmetic procedure (including the risks of a thread lift gone wrong)? Choose the right professional.

How to choose the right professional for your thread lift

Any professional worth your time will openly share their credentials and licence with you. They will answer your questions and doubts honestly. They will be able to share successful results and recommendations from previous clients. And they will never pressure you into getting a procedure you’re uncomfortable with.

Are thread lifts worth it?


  • Minimal downtime and discomfort
  • Effective skin tightening and smoothing results
  • Restored volume and definition
  • Improved skin quality and glow
  • Results that can last for over 2 years
  • Minimal maintenance 


  • Mild discomfort, bleeding, potential bruising and swelling.
  • One day of downtime and a week before you can resume intense physical activity
  • Rare risks of infection, thread visibility, paresthesia, and scarring— which are highly preventable when choosing an experienced, licensed professional.

When performed by a legitimate specialist, thread lifts are an invaluable tool for your age management strategy. With only minimal downtime and investment, you get effective rejuvenation results that can last over two years.

If you’re ready to start your journey back to your confidence and glow, book a consultation at our premium Melbourne clinic. Our thread lift special specialists will help you design a tailored, quality thread lift strategy that feels right to you.