What is a Thigh Lift?
If fitness and weight loss efforts have not achieved your goals for a body that is firmer, more youthful-looking and more proportionate to your overall body image, a surgical lift may be right for you. Thigh lift surgery reshapes the thighs by reducing excess skin, and in some cases fat, resulting in smoother skin and better-proportioned contours of the thighs and lower body.
In general, candidates for a thigh lift are:
- People whose weight is relatively stable
- Individuals with excess soft tissue along the inner or medial thigh region and/or the outer thigh
- Healthy individuals who do not have medical conditions that impair healing or increase risk of surgery
- Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic goals for what thigh lift surgery can accomplish
- Individuals committed to leading a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition and fitness
What it won’t do
Thigh lifts are not intended strictly for the removal of excess fat. Liposuction alone can remove excess fat deposits where skin has good elasticity and is able to naturally conform to new body contours. In cases where skin elasticity is poor, a combination of liposuction and thigh lift techniques may be recommended.
Consultation and Preparing for Surgery
The success and safety of your thigh lift procedure depends very much on your complete candidness during your consultation. You’ll be asked a number of questions about your health, desires, and lifestyle.
During your consultation be prepared to discuss:
- Your surgical goals
- Medical conditions, drug allergies, and medical treatments
- Current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco, and drug use
- Previous surgeries
Your surgeon will also:
- Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
- Examine and measure your body, including detailed measurements
- Take photographs for your medical records
- Discuss your options
- Recommend a course of treatment
- Discuss likely outcomes of thigh lift surgery and any risks or potential complications
Prior to surgery, you may be asked to:
- Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
- Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
- Stop smoking
- Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding
Thigh lift surgery may be performed in an accredited office-based surgical facility, licensed ambulatory surgical center, or a hospital. If your thigh lift is performed on an outpatient basis, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.
Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon questions. It’s very important to understand all aspects of your thigh lift procedure. It’s natural to feel some anxiety, whether it’s excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don’t be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.
Step 1 – Anesthesia
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedures. The options include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best option for you.
Step 2 – The incision
Incision patterns vary based on the area or areas to be treated, degree of correction, and patient and surgeon preference. One common technique used for a thigh lift places incisions in the groin, extending downward and wrapping around the back of the thigh. The underlying tissue matrix will be reshaped and tightened, and skin will be reduced and re-draped resulting in more proportionate and smoother body contours. You may qualify for a minimal incision medial thigh lift that involves an incision only in the groin area. Your surgeon will determine what’s appropriate.
Improving the contours of the outer thigh may require an incision extending from the groin around the hip. Advanced techniques usually allow incisions to be placed in strategic locations where they can be hidden by most types of clothing and swimsuits. However, incisions may be extensive.
Step 3 – Closing the incisions
Deep support sutures within underlying tissues help to form the newly shaped contours. Sutures close the skin incisions.
Step 4 – See the results
The smoother tighter contouring that result from a thigh lift are apparent almost immediately, although initially obscured by swelling and bruising. You may be required to wear a compression garment for several weeks following your procedure to minimize swelling and support the tissues as they heal. Following a thigh lift, skin quality is dramatically improved both in appearance and feel.
Risks and Safety
The decision to have thigh lift surgery is extremely personal, and you’ll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications are acceptable. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications.
The risks include:
- Anesthesia risks
- Poor wound healing
- Fluid accumulation
- Major wound separation
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
- Persistent pain
- Skin discoloration and/or swelling
- Skin loss
- Sutures may spontaneously surface through the skin, become visible, or produce irritation that require removal
- Unfavorable scarring
- Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
- Recurrent looseness of skin
- Possibility of revisional surgery
When you go home
If you experience any shortness of breath, chest pains, or unusual heart beats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment.
Following your physician’s instructions is key to the success of your surgery. It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.
These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It’s important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.
Following your physician’s instructions is essential to the success of your surgery. It’s important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.
Recovery After Surgery
When your procedure is completed, dressing or bandages may be applied to your incisions, and you may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimize swelling and to support your new contours as you heal. Small, thin tubes may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain excess fluid or blood that may collect.
You will be given specific instructions that may include how to care for the surgical site and drains, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.
Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period.
- Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
- What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
- Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery?
- When will they be removed?
- Are stitches removed? When?
- When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
- When do I return for follow-up care?
The results of a thigh lift are visible almost immediately. However, it may take several months for the final results to fully develop. Some visible scars will remain, but the overall results are long lasting, provided that you maintain a stable weight and general fitness. As your body ages, it is natural to lose some firmness. However, most of your initial improvement should be relatively permanent.
Although good results are expected from your procedure, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
Prices for a thigh lift can vary. A surgeon’s cost may be based on his or her experience, the type of procedure used, and the geographic location of the office. Many plastic surgeons offer patient financing plans, so be sure to ask.
Cost may include:
- Anesthesia fees
- Hospital or surgical facility costs
- Medical tests
- Post-surgery garments
- Prescriptions for medication
- Surgeon’s fee
Most health insurance does not cover cosmetic surgery or its complications.