Thorough comparison of the difference between a shopping lift and a thread lift

We do not have any information on thread lift at this time, but please use it as a source of information.
Please note that shopping lifts (shopping threads) are available.

What's the difference between a shopping lift and a thread lift?"
"Which is more effective, a shopping lift or a thread lift?"
"Is it better to put in more short, thin threads or fewer thick, long threads?"

Do you have any of these problems?

Hello. I am a doctor at Smart Skin Clinic, a cosmetic dermatology clinic.

Shopping Lift (Shopping Thread)" and "Thread Lift (Thread Lift)" are both cosmetic treatments in which threads are inserted into the skin. There are various names for different types of threads, and many people find it difficult to understand the treatment details and effects.

In this article, I will explain the difference between a shopping lift and a thread lift from the standpoint of a cosmetic dermatologist in an easy-to-understand manner.

*If you want to know about each item right away, you can jump to the table of contents below.


Overall view of a shopping lift or thread lift

First, let's take a look at the overall picture of shopping lifts and thread lifts.

Treatments using threads (thread lift) are broadly referred to as "thread lifts. The threads used vary in material, thickness, and the presence or absence, shape, and direction of the cogs (spines). In addition to the "thread lift," which uses long threads with spines, and the "shopping lift," which uses short, ultra-fine threads without spines, there is also a procedure called the "gold thread," in which threads made of pure gold are inserted.

However, when we generally refer to a "thread lift," we are mainly referring to a treatment called a "thread lift. Therefore, in this article, thread lift will be referred to as thread lift.

Shopping Lift Overview

Shopping lift is a skin beautification treatment in which ultra-fine threads are inserted into the dermal layer deep within the skin.

The insertion stimulus of the thread activates its own skin cells, creates a net with the thread in the skin, and promotes collagen production even in the process of the thread dissolving, which can be expected to have a tightening effect.

It is called a "shopping lift" because it can be performed as casually as going shopping. It is also called a "short thread" because it uses short threads.

For more information on shopping lifts, please see the following articles

Overview of Thread Lift

A thread lift (thread lift) is a treatment that physically raises sagging skin by inserting threads with cogs (spines) into the facial line and around the wrinkles in the center of the face, mainly in front of the temples and ears, and then pulling and securing the threads.

By shifting drooping fat and creating an ideal contour, the entire cheek is lifted, resulting in the reduction of age-related facial wrinkles such as laugh lines, marionette lines, and bulldog lines, as well as the improvement of facial contours, sagging, and lifting effects.

Differences between shopping lift and thread lift (list)

The differences between a shopping lift and a thread lift are listed first.

 shopping liftthread lifting
EffectTightens and improves elasticity
Skin texture improvement
Improvement of sagging  
Wrinkle improvement
Improvement of sagging
Increased elasticity
Duration1 to 1.5 years with a peak of 3 to 4 months after surgeryPeaks immediately after and lasts from 6 months to several years
Treatment MethodInsertion of a short, ultrafine, spine-free thread into a shallow layer of skinA thread with spines is inserted under the skin and fixed by the spines while being pulled
Treatment Time30 minutes to 1 hour30 minutes to 1 hour
Yarn MaterialPDO (absorbent)PDO, PLA, PLLA, PCL (absorbent),
Polyester, silicone (non-absorbent)
Number of bottles (approximate)10 per site~
Example) Both cheeks: about 40 pieces, 2 x 2 cm: about 10 pieces, 5 x 5 cm: about 20 pieces
About 4 to 20 on each side
Example: 6 to 8 on both cheeks if you are in your 30s, 10 to 12 if you are in your 50s.
Adaptation siteWhole face including eyes, mouth and face lineMainly face line
Down timeSwelling: several days
Pain: several days
Internal bleeding: about 2 weeks
Makeup: Possible from the next day
Swelling: several days to 1 week
Pain and discomfort: 1-2 weeks
Internal bleeding: about 2 weeks
Makeup: Possible from the next day
cicatrixHardly noticeablebecome gradually thinner
Interval between treatmentsAbout once or twice a yearAbout once every six months
ChargeCheaper than a thread liftHigher than shopping lift

The following are some key points regarding these differences.

Difference in Lifting Effects between Shopping Lift and Thread Lift

With the word "lift" in their names, one might associate both shopping lifts and thread lifts with a lifting effect. However, there are some differences as follows

Shopping Lift

  • Natural lifting effect by tightening

Thread lift

  • Physical lifting effect

If you are aiming for a lifting effect, a thread lift is recommended. However, it should be noted that the lifting effect is relatively easy to reverse.

The main effect of the Shopping Lift is "tightening". Tightening leads to improvement of fine wrinkles and "natural lifting" of mild sagging. Although there is no physical lifting action, the tightening effect continues for a while after the threads are absorbed.

Difference in duration of effect between shopping lift and thread lift

Neither a shopping lift nor a thread lift has a permanent duration of effect. Changes with aging are inevitable, and new sagging and wrinkles will develop even after treatment.

Shopping Lift

  • Peak: about 3 months after surgery
  • Duration: Approximately 1 to 1.5 years
  • Duration of effect depending on the number of threads remains the same.

Thread lift

  • Peak: Immediately after surgery
  • Duration: Approximately 6 months to several years
  • The more bottles you have, the easier it is to maintain strength.

In both cases, regardless of the type or shape of the thread, the effect is gradually lost after the peak.

The lifting effect of a thread lift is lost in a relatively short period of time, and thereafter, a feeling of firmness due to the stimulation of the threads remains, as with a shopping lift. However, because the number of threads is small, the firmness of the lift is not as great as that of a shopping lift.

In both cases, the realization of effectiveness varies from person to person. In addition, the key to maintaining effectiveness is to follow the recommended "maintenance interval".

Difference between shopping lift and thread lift in the indicated area

Shopping lift and thread lift are applied to different parts of the body due to the difference in the purpose of treatment.

Shopping Lift

  • Whole face including eye and mouth area

Thread lift

  • Face lines, laugh lines, marionette lines, and other central facial areas

Since the purpose of the Shopping Lift is to tighten and improve skin texture, it is applicable to the "entire face including the eye and mouth area.

On the other hand, the thread lift aims to improve sagging and wrinkles in the "central part of the face," so the "face line, laugh lines, and marionette lines" are the indicated areas.

Difference in the number of insertions between a shopping lift and a thread lift

The number of threads used in a shopping thread lift and a thread lift are very different.

Example: In the case of laugh lines

  • Shopping lift: 40 pcs~.
  • Thread lift: 6-12 threads

The shopping lift, which is cheaper per unit but requires a larger number of units, and the thread lift, which is more expensive per unit but requires fewer units. However, it is nonsense to compare the two in terms of price, because the indications for each are different.

By selecting the appropriate treatment depending on the symptoms and desired result, it will be easier to realize the benefits.

The threads used in a thread lift are intended to lift sagging skin, so there are restrictions on the direction and location of insertion, and there is a risk of discomfort and unnatural results if too many threads are used. There is no risk of unnatural results with too many threads in a shopping lift.

For more information on the number of shopping lifts, see also the following article.

Differences in Pain Management between Shopping Lift and Thread Lift

Because the depth of insertion and the degree of pain are different between a shopping lift and a thread lift, the appropriate pain countermeasures are also different.

  • Shopping lift: cooling and surface anesthesia
  • Thread lift: local anesthesia

The pain during the Shopping Lift procedure is described as "about the size of a fingernail pinching the tip of your finger. If the number of units is small, the procedure can be performed with cooling only and without anesthesia.

In a thread lift, a long, spiny thread is inserted deeply into the subcutis. Because superficial anesthesia does not work subcutaneously, it is necessary to inject a drug into the needle's entry point and the hole where the needle is inserted.

Anesthesia is to be used according to pain.

In addition to surface and local anesthesia, some clinics choose "laughing anesthesia" to alleviate anxiety and "intravenous anesthesia" to put the patient half asleep to further alleviate pain.

However, anesthesia is not recommended by Smart Skin Clinic because of the considerable physical and financial burden it entails.

Difference between threads used for shopping lift and thread lift

Compared to shopping lifts, thread lifts offer a wider variety of materials and shapes.

Shopping Lift

  • PDO
  • Short, ultrafine threads without spines

Thread lift

  • PDO, PLA, PCL, PLLA, polyester, silicone
  • Long threads with spines
  • Direction and position of spines vary

The thread material used for the Shopping Lift is a medical material called PDO (polydioxanone), which is also used in surgery and has the property of dissolving and being absorbed within the body.

As the threads dissolve, they become less strong, but the tightening effect continues for some time after absorption.

In addition to PDO, absorbable threads such as PCL, PLA, and PLLA, which are stiffer and take longer to dissolve, as well as non-absorbable threads made of bio-materials such as polyester and silicone are used for thread lift.

In addition, the following paper describes a study comparing six threads of different shapes used in thread lifts over a 12-week period, all of which showed a collagen-increasing effect, although the strength varied depending on the shape of the spine.

(Japanese translation) Six commercial yarn products were collected and evaluated. General structure, microstructure, elastic modulus, and strength were evaluated using microscopy and in vitro tensile testing 72 female rats were divided into 6 groups. Tissue samples were collected and histologically evaluated using hematoxylin-eosin staining and Masson trichrome staining at weeks 1, 4, 8, and 12.

There were differences between the products in terms of barb shape, microstructure, elasticity and strength, which were attributed to the material and barb structure. All yarns showed good biosecurity and increased density of collagen areas in the dermis compared to the control group.

This study provided an objective evaluation of barbed products and showed that all products can be used safely with some efficacy in different indications.

Lideng Cao, He Qiu, Donglei Yu, Liu Shuo, Hang Wang. Comparison of different thread products for facial rejuvenation: Materials and barb designs. Journal of cosmetic dermatology. 2023 Jul;22(7);1988-1994. doi: 10.1111/jocd.15691

Difference in downtime between shopping lift and thread lift

Downtime symptoms of both shopping lift and thread lift may include swelling, pain, discomfort, scarring, and internal bleeding. Since no scalpel is used, symptoms are mild.

Shopping Lift

  • Because the threads are thin and short, pain and discomfort tend to settle quickly.
  • Depending on the site, internal bleeding may be noticeable, but can be covered with concealer from the next day.

Thread lift

  • Because local anesthesia is injected, swelling is more noticeable in the immediate aftermath
  • Pulling and discomfort around the mouth remains for 1-2 weeks.

In any case, if you have an important appointment, you should adjust your treatment schedule, taking downtime symptoms into consideration.

Symptoms that require attention are the increased pain, swelling, and redness seen during infection. Usually, downtime symptoms will gradually abate, but if they become more intense, please consult the clinic immediately.

Differences in the impact of shopping lift and thread lift on daily life

Postoperative scars from either procedure are not noticeable, but there are some restrictions on activities because of the scars in the skin as well. Housework and desk work will not affect recovery.

Common】 【Common

  • Refrain from warming up for about a week to prevent intensification of downtime symptoms
  • Refrain from massaging the face for about a month until the threads have settled.

Thread lift

  • You can open your mouth wide only after 2 months.

Differences in risk between shopping lift and thread lift

Any treatment carries zero risk.

Common】 【Common

  • Infection during treatment
  • allergy

Thread lift

  • Skin depressions (bumps)
  • having a lover (for a woman)
  • parotid gland injury
  • Long-term infection (for non-absorbable threads)
  • allergy

Infection can be prevented to some extent by cleanliness manipulation, antibiotics, and tape protection of needle holes. However, thread lifts sometimes use nonabsorbable threads, which increases the risk of infection in the long term.

In addition, if the thread lift is inserted incorrectly in the wrong depth or direction, it may not only be ineffective, but may also cause skin surface irritation, bumps, and parotid gland damage.

Allergies are not entirely absent, but to some extent can be prevented with a medical interview.

Advantages and disadvantages of shopping lift and thread lift and who is recommended to use them

Compare the disadvantages with the advantages, and only go ahead with treatment when you are satisfied that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

For reference, the following is a list of people to whom each treatment is recommended.

 be common  shopping lift  thread lifting
AdvantagesShort downtime
Improved skin texture  
Many areas can be treated.
Tightens and improves elasticity
Natural finish
Fine design is possible.
No scarring
...can raise points of concern.
Easy to feel the effect immediately after
Scars are inconspicuous.  
DemeritThe effect is not permanent.
The effect may not be realized for strong sagging and wrinkles ・Swelling and internal bleeding may occur  
. No immediate effect.
No high lifting effect
...You can open your mouth wide as in dental treatment only after 2 months.
. Risk of bumps, twinges, and parotid gland injury.
Recommended byI don't want to take a scalpel.
I'm worried about sagging.
I want to have a small face.
I want to improve the elasticity of my skin.
I want to have beautiful skin.
I want a natural finish.  
I want to lift up.
I want to feel the effect immediately.
I'm concerned about the midface.


Which is more effective, a shopping lift or a thread lift?

Each has different indications and effects. Shopping lift has a tightening effect, while thread lift has a lifting effect.

Which is more painful, a shopping lift or a thread lift?

Both treatments use anesthesia, so the patient feels little or no pain.

Go to Smart Skin Clinic for Shopping Lift

Smart Skin Clinic offers the Shopping Lift, which is safe and has light downtime. Please see the following article for a description of the Shopping Lift procedure and fees.

We strive to determine the indications according to the patient's concerns and wishes, and to arrange the insertion angle and direction of the needle and thread according to the concerns while looking at the overall balance of the face to maximize the effect.

We can offer treatment suggestions, but we will not force additional sales.

Counseling is free of charge. Please feel free to contact us.


Lideng Cao, He Qiu, Donglei Yu, Liu Shuo, Hang Wang. Comparison of different thread products for facial rejuvenation: Materials and barb designs. Journal of cosmetic dermatology. 2023 Jul;22(7);1988-1994. doi: 10.1111/jocd.15691

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