Let’s be real: we all just want fuller, plumper, lips à la Kylie Jenner. And with the demand for big lips being so high, there are so many ways to create a faux-natural plush pout: fillers, lip blushing, and… threading? No, not the upper lip hair removal technique that feels like a million tiny paper cuts across your face—that’s amateur hour compared to this new cosmetic procedure.
When there is a will, there is a way for cosmetic surgeons around the globe to craft up a new, obscure form of body modification. The latest: the resurgence of an early-2000’s trend, which is also touted as the “lip thread lift,” which is now being considered an alternative to the classic lip fillers. But as Poison once crooned, every rose has its thorn: this procedure is not for the faint of heart (or for anyone, really). Below, we talked to the experts on why you should steer clear of this trending pout plumper.
What Is Lip Threading?
This technique is exactly what it sounds like: placing absorbable sutures or threads inside the upper lip border to create a fuller, defined appearance, according to duel board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Ben Stong. If you want to check out the procedure for yourself, you can watch this video—but be warned, it’s not for the squeamish. This is one of the “thread lift” techniques that the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports can be used as a semi-permanent alternative to face lifts. While it sounds like a new procedure, it’s actually been around since the late 1990s, and used to be FDA approved—until thread lifts lost their stamp of approval in 2009. How could this be? Because lip threading (and facial threading of any kind) is actually extremely dangerous.
The Dangers of Lip Threading
Beverly Hills facial plastic surgeon Dr. Ben Talei labels lip threading as a “substantial don’t-do procedure” for its lengthy list of downsides. “Lip threads fell out of favor about two decades ago when people realized they have zero benefit and mostly cause problems,” he says. “Lately, absorbable threads have been popularized and practitioners are now trying to use them for the lip with 2 excuses: lifting and collagen production. As far as lifting goes, I’ve never seen this work.” And when it comes to collagen production, Dr. Talei notes that many patients actually form internal scarring called fibrosis, “a particular type of scarring where type I and type III collagen are interchanged in very negative way.”
It’s also not a reversible procedure. According to Dr. Stong, once those threads are put in, there’s no way of taking them out. So, if you don’t like the look of them, you’re stuck with them until they break down and absorb into your body (gross), which takes about one year. Plus, if there is internal scarring after the procedure, Dr. Talei notes that there is “not much you can do” to reverse the effects.
Last but not least, lip threading only focuses on the upper part of your lip, so Dr. Stong says it is not a customizable procedure. They also don’t leave the same plush, soft feel as injectable fillers, so considering the fact that they’re on the same pain ratio, both plastic surgeons believe that lip threading just isn’t worth it.
So, should you get this procedure done? Both plastic surgeons say absolutely not, and we agree. Yes, it is usually a bit cheaper than fillers (their currently priced at a mere $400), but trying to save a few bucks is not doing you or your lips any favors.
Instead, Dr. Talei recommends the “modified upper lip lift,” which is a more invasive surgery that involves removing part of the skin between your nose and upper lip to create a plumper, defined look. “The modified upper lip lift is a much safer and more impressive procedure that shortens the height of the upper lip, increases accent and volume show , and can improve tooth show,” he says. But it is quite pricey, so people on a budget may want to opt out.
As for me, I’ll stick to overlining my naturally thin lips for now.