05/30/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT
Cathleen Kornblatt was unhappy about sagging skin but didn't want a traditional face-lift. "All that cutting and sewing—it's scary," she says. Instead, on April 29, the 53-year-old office manager underwent a new, hour-long procedure called a Thread Lift, which uses a suture the FDA recently approved. Without using a scalpel, plastic surgeon Michelle Copeland of New York City inserted 12 barbed sutures underneath Kornblatt's skin; when drawn upward, the sutures pulled the tissue tight (see diagram). Results are less dramatic than a face-lift, but the process costs roughly half as much—$4,000 to $8,000 for a typical procedure—and recovery time is minimal. But buyers beware: Sutures used in earlier versions had no barbs and didn't hold as long. While doctors now expect three to five years' worth of firmer skin, critics question the claim because the procedure is so new. So far, at least, Kornblatt is happy. "I look 5, 10 years younger," she says. "And it was instant."