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We’ve been wearing gold as jewellery for centuries, but now the beauty industry has found an unusual use for the precious metal by putting it inside our bodies in the pursuit of youth.
Gold thread rejuvenation is a technique that inhabits the territory between a pot of cream and a facelift.
Under local anaesthetic, ultrafine 24-carat gold filaments are sown into the upper layers of the skin, causing a reaction that stimulates a new network of collagen and elastin fibres to form around it. This, in turn, makes the skin thicker, plumper and, ultimately, “lifted”.
Sagging skin is the latest obsession among beauty companies and consumers alike. Advocates for the gold thread treatment claim it can improve the contours of the face for up to 10 years.
Because of its pure, anti-irritant qualities, gold has been popular for thread lifts in Russia, Asia and eastern Europe since the 1990s but it is still something of a novelty elsewhere.
Despite its bling-sounding name, the treatment is more than the latest gimmick favoured by the super-rich, according to Dr Alexandra Chambers, one of the first in the UK to offer the procedure at her clinic in London’s Wimpole Street (from £2,500 for a full face treatment, dralexchambers.co.uk). Chambers says that her typical patient is a well-off professional woman in her late forties to late fifties. However, men too opt for it as a treatment that leaves no scars and yields natural-looking results.
“Gold threads are one of the first surgical implantable threads for cosmetic purposes,” she says. “As the threads can be effectively used to increase dermal thickness and elasticity, I recommend them for people with thin, lax skin, stretch marks and pockmarks.”
Patients have a topical numbing cream applied, followed by tiny anaesthetic injections before the threading begins. They can expect up to 10 days of bruising and swelling. It can take from six weeks to six months for the results to become apparent but enthusiasts say the outcome is a fresher, more youthful looking complexion without obvious signs of work.
“Facial rejuvenation techniques are increasingly popular as people want to tackle tell-tale signs such as droopy jowls that instantly give away your age,” says Ash Mosahebi, a consultant plastic surgeon and a council member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.
However, anyone considering the treatment might want to heed this warning from Dr Marko Lens, an internationally renowned authority on skin ageing and a fellow of Britain’s Royal College of Surgeons.
“Gold is not a part of normal tissue and so is a foreign body to the skin,” Lens says. “It changes the structure of skin tissues, making them different from normal, healthy tissues.”
Furthermore, he warns, some threads can remain visible under the skin. “In contrast, a natural filler such as hyaluronic acid is a part of the skin tissues and thus it does not cause structural changes.”