What is a Featherlift?

I have heard of a procedure called a Featherlift. What is a Featherlift and how is it different from a facelift?

Doctor Answers 30

Featherlift - Not even good in theory

Just a couple of years ago, "thread" lifting or "suture" lifting was a media darling. And now? Contour threads ("Thread lift") have been removed from the market and APTOS threads (the "Featherlift") are gone, too.

Unfortunately, these procedures were unimpressive in their results and flawed even in theory.

The idea was that barbed sutures--like porcupine quills--could be inserted under the skin, engage the tissue and then either lift it or bunch it together. Sounds great, right? So what was the problem?

The problem is that living tissue expands to accommodate tension, meaning that if you pull on skin it will grow and stretch out to eliminate that pull...and it does so pretty quickly. Doctors know this, which is why it was perplexing that any doctor ever offered it. In fact, we make use of this property with devices known as "tissue expanders," which we use for reconstructive procedures.

So why, you might ask, does a real surgical facelift last? Aren't we just pulling tissue? Not at all. The difference is that in a real surgical facelift, we are actually dissecting and then repositioning tissue planes. It's a little bit like peeling up a sticker and then re-adhering it in a new location. Unfortunately, that requires real surgery and its associated downtime, but a natural and lasting appearance is the result.

Jacksonville Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

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My Advice on XYZ Lifts

As a surgeon with over 20 years experience, I have seen a lot of these “newest and greatest” procedures come and go. I can only name a couple that have truly stood the test of time. A few keep coming back every few years with a new twist and a new brand name, but the same basic results. Put all the “blah-blah-blah lift” varieties in this category, along with cellulite reducing creams and non surgical bust enhancers.

Here's my advice on XYZ lifts:

  1. Mini surgeries tend to give mini results. Adjust expectations accordingly.
  2. Let others be the guinea pigs. Most new technologies need to have their kinks worked out. Better to avoid the “OOPS!” phase in the development of new technology.
  3. “Results may vary” - new procedures take some time to “find their place.” In the meantime, a lot of people will be spending a lot of money getting xyz lifts on various other parts of the face that may not work that great.
  4. It’s the tennis player, not the racket. A lot of times a procedure is marketed as an alternative for something that can be reliably done by an experienced surgeon using time tested techniques. The risk of the new procedure is that you may be wasting your money, or worse yet, risking a complication.

In your consultation with your surgeon, focus on describing exactly what you want to change, as opposed to the name of the technique. Let the surgeon explain the various techniques available to achieve the best results.

Ricardo L. Rodriguez, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Featherlift Will Probably Not Hold Up Over Time

Featherlift will probably not hold up over time for your facelift, or as a technique.

Some patients have had satisfactory results from this technique that uses sutures with barbs to tighten tissue.

However, the sutures are expensive and little, if any money is saved with the technique.

The barbed sutures are supposed to make less cutting and sewing necessary, but this does not seem to be holding up well, and has created some disturbing dimples or folds.

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Featherlift lies in the graveyard of trendy procedures

Featherlift is a great case example of why patients should do their research before embarking on a procedure because it is new or trendy. Truthfully, it was one of the most worthless procedures ever introduced to the American public (barbed sutures placed under the skin). It lies in the graveyard of failed trendy cosmetic procedures, a place with plenty of open spots for future gimmicks.

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Featherlifts have flown the Coop


A Featherlift is a procedure that received a lot of attention a few years ago that offered minimal incisions and recovery and promised improvements in a patient's jowls and jawlines.

It is done by making a small incision in the hairline by the ear and inserting a linear suture with hooks on the end that would lift the jowls
up. A nice little procedure in theory but the results were overall disappointing for most patients.

A Facelift has various forms but on the whole feature larger incisions and some form of tightening the underlying muscles. More invasive but far more satisfying.

Kamran Jafri, MD
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Feather lift

The feather lift is done with stitches under the skin to try to lift the skin.  Some refer to this as the thread lift.  Most surgeons have abandoned this procedure because it doesn't work.

Ronald J. Edelson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Featherlift and thread lifts

 Most of the thread lifts have been taken off the market for a variety of complications. We have removed many of them when performing a facelift procedure. Thread lifts are only  temporarily tightening skin. Thread lifts do not address tightening muscles or removal of fatty deposits in the neck.  is
 A comprehensive facial rejuvenation involves tightening the facial muscles and jowls, removal of fatty deposits above and below the  platysma muscle in the neck, a platysma plasty, and conservatively tightening excess face and neck skin.
 For many examples of facial rejuvenation in our practice, please see the link below to our facelift  photo gallery a

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

A Featherlift is a Marketing Term for a Facelift

The featherlift is a variant of the thread lift. This procedure uses sutures with barbs that hold the soft tissue in a suspended position. Unfortunately, with time, the barbs lose their traction and the patient develops recurrent facial skin sag. For this reason, the procedure has been widely criticized. The procedure has significant expense and is associated with minimal improvement.

It’s not unusual for these types of procedures to be given names that have marketing value. Descriptive terms like; smart, lunch hour and laser are added to standard terms like facelift to make them sound as if they represent new technology. In reality, this leads to significant confusion amongst patients.

Featherlift - Not Worth It !

This is one of many ideas that had a lot of publicity and great hype but  the results (or lack thereof) just did not support the expectation of patients and surgeons alike. Essentially "thread" lifting or " barbed suture" lifting is the concept. They are placed through small "stab incisions" and threaded through and tied under tension. Of course as would be expected the tiny barbs "cheese wired" through the soft tissue and the results fade in a matter of several weeks to several months. I personally have removed more than I have placed, from dissatisfied patients with suture migration and almost immediately abandoned this technique.  Contour threads ("Thread lift") have been removed from the market and APTOS threads which are the barbed sutures used for the "Featherlift") are also history. Save your money and consider a real procedure with longevity from a board certified plastic surgeon.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Marketing terms and a facelift

It used to be that advertising in plastic surgery, or medicine in general, was not the norm. Now of days, there are so many "cosmetic" surgeons who have approached these procedures without formal plastic surgery training, that they tend to use marketing, advertising and catchy names to try to promote business. Don't get fooled by a fancy ad, but make sure you discuss your complaints with a board certified plastic surgeon.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.