Also known as thighplasty
A thigh lift is a procedure that involves the removal of excess skin and fat from either the inner or outer thighs. This is often desirable after substantial or bariatric weight loss or in individuals for whom dieting and exercise have failed to reduce excess tissue in their upper thighs. Liposuction may be used as an adjunct to the recontouring of the inner thigh. If you are committed to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a moderate weight, a thigh lift can help you regain the youthful thigh contours you desire.
When to Consider a Thigh Lift
- If you want your thighs to have a better, more proportional contour and a firmer look and feel.
- If you have undergone bariatric surgery or massive weight loss.
- If you are distressed about loose, flabby skin on your thighs.
- If you have difficulty fitting into clothing because of heavy thighs.
Medial (inner) thigh lift: An incision is made in the groin area and any excess fat and skin are excised along the inner aspect of the thigh. Liposuction may be, but is not always, included in this procedure, depending on your individual requirements. The area from the groin to the knee is recontoured and the procedure is repeated for the other thigh. If a more substantial wedge of tissue is removed, the procedure is called a thighplasty.
Lateral (outer) thigh lift:This is a more complex procedure, usually involving recontouring of the buttocks as well as the outer thighs and removal of more tissue. Scarring is more extensive, and the skin will be less elastic after the surgery, so weight should be maintained.
Your surgeon will provide thorough preoperative instructions, answer any questions you may have, take a detailed medical history and perform a physical exam to determine your fitness for surgery.
In advance of your procedure, your surgeon will ask you to:
- Stop smoking before undergoing surgery to promote better healing.
- Avoid taking aspirin, certain anti-inflammatory drugs and some herbal medications that can cause increased bleeding.
- Regardless of the type of surgery to be performed, hydration is very important before and after surgery for safe recovery.
- Your surgeon will ascertain that you have maintained a stable weight for a significant period of time, since regaining weight can jeopardize the effects of the thigh lift.
What can I expect on the day of thigh-lift surgery?
Your surgery may be performed in an accredited hospital, free-standing ambulatory facility or office-based surgical suite. Most thigh lift procedures take at least two to three hours to complete, but may take longer.
- Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure.
- General anesthesia is commonly used during your procedure, although local anesthesia or intravenous sedation may be desirable in some instances.
- For your safety during the surgery, various monitors will be used to check your heart, blood pressure, pulse and the amount of oxygen circulating in your blood.
- Your surgeon will follow the surgical plan discussed with you before surgery.
- After your procedure is completed, you will be taken into a recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored. You will have drainage tubes in place. You will have a compression garment over liposuctioned areas of your thighs. A surgical dressing will be placed over the surgical site.
- If a general anesthetic is used, you will stay overnight in the facility for observation and your surgeon will discharge you when you have recovered sufficiently. If your procedure was performed under local anesthesia, you may be permitted to go home after a short observation period unless you and your plastic surgeon have made other plans for your immediate postoperative recovery.
There are two different types of thigh lift procedures: medial (inner) thigh lift or lateral (outer) thigh lift. See How is a thigh lift procedure performed? for details.
A physical examination, a thorough medical history and a discussion with your surgeon will help determine whether a medial or lateral thigh lift is most appropriate, or whether you will benefit from a combined lower body lift.
It’s important to choose your surgeon based on:
- Education, training and certification
- Experience with thigh-lift surgery
- Your comfort level with him or her
Members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery are experienced and qualified to perform your aesthetic procedure. Learn how to select a surgeon.
After finding a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area who is experienced in performing thigh-lift surgery, you will need to make an office appointment to set up your consultation. Generally, because of the in-depth nature of the consultation, there is a cost associated with the initial visit.
During your initial consultation, you will have the opportunity to discuss your cosmetic goals. Your surgeon will evaluate you as a candidate for thigh-lift surgery and clarify what a thigh lift can do for you. Understanding your goals and medical condition, both alternative and additional treatments may be considered (see related procedures).
You should come to the consultation prepared to discuss your complete medical history. This will include information about:
- Previous surgeries
- Past and present medical conditions
- Allergies and current medications
Based on your goals, physical characteristics, and the surgeon’s training and experience, your surgeon will share recommendations and information with you, including:
- An approach to your surgery, including the type of procedure or combination of procedures.
- The outcomes that you can anticipate.
- Your financial investment in the procedure.
- Associated risks and complications.
- Options for anesthesia and surgery location.
- What you need to prepare for your surgery.
- What you can expect to experience after surgery.
- Show before-and-after photos of cases similar to yours and answer any questions.
For a general list of questions to ask your surgeon about his or her background, to find out about plastic surgery safety, and to plan your procedure, visit the Planning Toolkit.
We developed these questions to help you:
- Make the most informed and intelligent decisions about your procedure.
- Confirm that you have the right surgeon for your procedure.
- Make your initial consultation as rewarding as possible.
- Understand your options, potential outcomes and risks.
It is important for you to take an active role in your surgery, so please use this list of questions as a starting point for your initial consultation.
- Am I a good candidate for a thigh lift?
- Are the results I am seeking reasonable and realistic?
- Do you have before-and-after photos I can look at for the procedure I am undergoing?
- Will my scars be visible? Where will my scars be located?
- What kind of anesthesia do you recommend for me?
- What will be the costs associated with my surgery?
- What will you expect of me to get the best results?
- What kind of recovery period can I expect, and when can I resume normal activities?
- What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
- How are complications handled?
- What are my options if the cosmetic outcome of my surgery does not meet the goals we agreed on?
Your surgeon will discuss how long it will be before you can return to your normal level of activity and work. After surgery, you and your caregiver will receive detailed instructions about your postsurgical care, including information about:
- Drains, if they have been placed
- Normal symptoms you will experience
- Potential signs of complications
See options for short-term recovery locations in Aftercare and Recovery (Planning Toolkit).
Immediately after your thigh lift
Although your new smooth contours will be visible immediately after surgery, there will be a period of bruising, swelling and soreness. If your pain is extreme or long-lasting, contact your physician. Contact your surgeon to find out if your pain, bruising and swelling is normal or a sign of a problem.
Recovery time frame after a thigh lift
It is vitally important that you follow all patient care instructions provided by your surgeon. This will include information about wearing compression garments, care of your drains, taking an antibiotic if prescribed, and the level and type of activity that is safe. Your surgeon will also provide detailed instructions about the normal symptoms you will experience and any potential signs of complications. It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals.
The first two weeks
- During the first ten to 14 days you should only engage in light activities.
- This is a critical period for healing and you should be watchful for any signs of infection or nonhealing and report these to your doctor immediately.
- The pull of gravity and the actions of walking, sitting, and bending put stress on the sutured areas, so you should make careful and deliberate movements.
- It will be helpful if you have someone staying with you for the first few days of your recovery.
Weeks two to eight
- You may need to wear a compression garment for the first month to optimize contouring of the thighs.
- Swelling should subside in three to five weeks.
- You may resume driving and walking for exercise after the first two to three weeks, when these activities do not cause pain.
- Avoid heavy lifting and jogging for six to eight weeks.
If you maintain a stable weight, healthy lifestyle and fitness program, your results will be long-lasting.
Maintain a relationship with your aesthetic plastic surgeon
For safety, as well as the most beautiful and healthy outcome, it’s important to return to your plastic surgeon's office for follow-up evaluation at prescribed times and whenever you notice any changes in your thighs. Do not hesitate to contact your surgeon when you have any questions or concerns.
The cost of a thigh lift varies from doctor to doctor and from one geographic area to another. Because a thigh lift is elective surgery, insurance does not cover these costs. Many surgeons offer patient financing plans to make the procedure more affordable.
These numbers only reflect the physician/surgeon fees last year and do not include fees for the surgical facility, anesthesia, medical tests, prescriptions, surgical garments or other miscellaneous costs related to surgery.
Choose your surgeon based on quality, training and experience—not cost.
See why ASAPS members are widely recognized for upholding the highest standards in the area of aesthetic plastic surgery by viewing their basic credentials, training and certifications.
Fortunately, significant complications from thigh lifts are infrequent. Your specific risks for thigh-lift surgery will be discussed during your consultation.
All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Some of the potential complications of all surgeries are:
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Hematoma or seroma (an accumulation of blood or fluid under the skin that may require removal)
- Infection and bleeding
- Changes in sensation
- Allergic reactions
- Damage to underlying structures
- Unsatisfactory results that may necessitate additional procedures
You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions of your board-certified plastic surgeon, both before and after your thigh-lift surgery.This article was originally published for Smart Beauty Guide and was legally licensed