A thigh lift 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.
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 thigh lift may be right for you.This 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.
Is it right for me?
Candidates for 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 can 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 happens during thigh lift surgery?
Step 1 – Anesthesia
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedures. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice 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 wrapping around the back of the thigh. The underlying tissue matrix will be reshaped and tightened, and skin will be reduced and redraped resulting in more proportionate and smoother body contours.You may qualify for a minimal incision medial thigh lift which involves an incision only in the groin area. Your surgeon will determine what’s appropriate.
Medial Thigh Lift
Improving the contours of the outer thigh may require an incision extending from the groin around the hip.Through these incisions your plastic surgeon will tighten tissues for a smoother, better-toned lower body contour.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.
Outer Thigh Lift
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 some 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.
Important facts about the safety and risks of thigh lift surgery
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.Your plastic surgeon and/or staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo and any risks and potential complications.Possible risks of thigh lift surgery include:
- Unfavorable scarring
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Fluid accumulation
- Poor wound healing
- Skin loss
- Blood clots
- Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
- Anesthesia risks
- Skin discoloration and/or swelling
- Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
- Major wound separation
- Pain, which may persist
- Unsatisfactory results such as highly visible surgical scar location, unacceptable visible deformities, bunching and rippling in the skin near the suture lines or at the ends of the incisions
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Recurrent looseness of skin
- Sutures may spontaneously surface through the skin, become visible or produce irritation that require removal
- Possibility of revisional surgery
When you go home
If you experience 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.The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, 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.
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.
Be sure to ask questions: It’s very important to ask your plastic surgeon questions about 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.My recoveryWhen 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.One or more 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(s) following surgery, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of 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?
- Are stitches removed? When?
- When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
- When do I return for follow-up care?
The results will be long-lasting
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.
How much will thigh lift surgery cost?
Cost is always a consideration in elective surgery. Prices for thigh lifts can vary widely. A surgeon’s cost for thigh lift surgery may vary based on his or her qualifications, skill and experience.
Cost may include:
- Surgeon’s fee
- Hospital or surgical facility costs
- Anesthesia fees
- Prescriptions for medication
- Post-surgery garments
- Medical tests
Your satisfaction involves more than a fee
When choosing a plastic surgeon for a thigh lift, remember that the surgeon’s qualifications and experience and your comfort with him or her are just as important as the final cost of the surgery. Most health insurance does not cover cosmetic surgery or its complications.
Words to know
- General anesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
- Hematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin.
- Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection into a vein to help you relax.
- Liposuction: Also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, this procedure vacuums out fat from beneath the skin’s surface to reduce fullness.
- Local anesthesia: A drug injected directly to the site of an incision during an operation to relieve pain.
- Medial thigh lift: A surgical procedure to correct sagging of the inner thigh.
- Outer thigh lift: A surgical procedure to correct sagging of the outer and mid-thigh.
- Sutures: Stitches used by surgeons to hold skin and tissue together.
Questions to ask my plastic surgeon
Use this checklist as a guide during your consultation
- Are you qualified in Plastic Surgery?
- What are your qualifications in Plastic Surgery?
- Were you trained specifically in the field of plastic surgery?
- How many years of plastic surgery training have you had?
- Do you have hospital privileges to perform this procedure?
- Is the office-based surgical facility accredited by a nationally- or state-recognized accrediting agency, or is it state-licensed or Medicare-certified?
- Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
- What will be expected of me to get the best results?
- Where and how will you perform my procedure?
- What surgical technique is recommended for me?
- How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
- What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
- How are complications handled?
- How can I expect my thighs to look over time?
- What are my options if I am dissatisfied with the cosmetic outcome of my thigh lift?
- Do you have before-and-after photos I can look at for this procedure and what results are reasonable for me?