I’ve been watching the skin sag on my lower face for a few years, a phenomenon that recently became even more noticeable after I lost weight.
My already thin face was looking more sunken and drawn. Gone was the girlish fullness of my cheeks. AArgh, I thought, every time I let my eyes wander to my distressing jowls and loose neck skin. This aging business has its drawbacks.
I’d been seriously thinking of getting a face and necklift, despite the exorbitant cost, risks of anesthesia, and recovery time. Then, out of the blue, I got a call from the office of Dr. Haideh Hirmand, a superb plastic surgeon, asking if I’d be willing to have a new FDA-approved procedure she’d soon be offering, called a Silhouette Lift. It’s minimally invasive, it should take about 45 minutes, and at worst I’d have a little swelling and bruising, I was informed.
I didn’t hesitate a microsecond, and emailed front and side photos of my face to the doctor’s office, so she could determine if I was a candidate for the Silhouette Lift. I was (phew!), and although I hadn’t the slightest idea what the procedure involved, I made the appointment to have it. Aside from taking an antibiotic the night before, and a Valium the morning of the procedure, there was no other preparation. I could even eat breakfast before I had the Silhouette Lift.
Dr. Julius Few, of Chicago, would be working with Dr. Hirmand on my Silhouette Lift, since he’s been doing about six procedures a week.
HOW IS THE SILHOUETTE LIFT PERFORMED?
Dr. H: The Silhouette Lift is another tool that enables us to do what we haven’t been able to do before, which is to lift the skin without surgery. We’ve been able to do very effective lifting with surgery, but surgery has the elements many women don’t want, including anesthesia, cost, and recovery time. Plus, you have to take a leap of faith with how you’ll look after surgery, even if you’ve researched the best doctors.
The Silhouette Lift uses absorbable thread, made of polylactic and polyglycolic acids, to which tiny ‘cones’ are attached that are positioned in two different directions. Each thread has needles at both ends, which are inserted into little holes made in the skin which will be lifted. After the thread is inserted under the skin, the tissue is manipulated over it, and the cones engage and lift the skin. Then the thread is pulled out in both directions and clipped.
Lidocaine is injected into the skin prior to the procedure to numb it.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE STITCHES?
H: The suture material we use in the Silhouette Lift is the same one that we use in surgery all the time. The injectable filler, Sculptra, also uses this material, but that procedure provides volume to the face not lift. The stitches in the Silhouette Lift create a process called fibrosis, where the body lays down bundles of collagen around them. Instead of cutting open the skin, and putting in sutures, the sutures are inserted without cutting.
HOW LONG WILL THE SILHOUETTE LIFT LAST?
H: The FDA says the residual lift will last 18 months, but that will vary from person to person. If you start having the Silhouette Lift when you’re younger, in your early 50s, for example, your skin won’t sag as fast and it will take longer for you to develop jowls.
We’ve yet to determine how deep the formation of collagen goes with the Silhouette Lift, and whether the skin is tightened over time. And although we know the procedure produces sculptural changes in the face, we don’t know if it will provide volumetric changes, like the filler Sculptra.
HOW MANY THREADS DID YOU USE ON ME?
H: We used four threads for each side of your face and neck, for a total of eight threads. The number of threads will vary from person to person, depending on anatomy and needs.
PLEASE SUMMARIZE HOW THE SILHOUETTE LIFT STACKS UP AGAINST FILLERS AND SURGERY
H: Surgery lifts, but doesn’t provide volume; it actually decreases volume.
Energy devices, such as radio frequency and Ultherapy, create collagen and tighten the skin, but they don’t lift very much and don’t plump.
Fillers plump the skin.The Silhouette Lift is somewhere in between and probably is more effective if used along with fillers.
WHAT IS THE PRICE RANGE FOR THE SILHOUETTE LIFT?
H: The Silhouette Lift can range from $4,500-$6,500, while Ultherapy for the neck and face is at least $4,500, and doesn’t work 10% of the time. A surgical facelift can be $25,000, or more.