How to Lose Thigh Fat

Home Treatments, Non-Invasive, and Surgical Methods to Get Rid of Thigh Fat

Are you one of the countless women (and men) trying to figure out how to lose thigh fat? The diet, exercise and beauty industry is full of treatments to reduce fat on your thighs. But very few of them work. Medical and surgical methods are more effective but can be expensive and carry some risks.

Listed below are the different ways to get thinner thighs in order from most expensive to least expensive. Some are home treatments that take no money at all, but may not be effective. Others are expensive surgical treatments for thigh fat that are costly but have demonstrated good results. Evaluate all of your choices before you make a decision about the best method for you.

Medical Treatments to Get Rid of Thigh Fat

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Medical treatments for thigh fat are likely to be effective, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution because there are several different areas of concern on the upper leg.

For example, the inner thighs are a problem for many women. For others, the outer thighs (or saddlebags) are problematic. Some women are looking for solutions for cellulite. And lastly, many women don't like the pocket of fat that sits above the knee.

So how do you address any—or all—of these problems? The first thing, says Dr. Daniel Maman of 740 Park Plastic Surgery is to address the quality of the skin. Dr. Maman is a Harvard trained, board-certified plastic surgeon who helps men and women address thigh fat issues with both surgical and non-surgical treatments. He says that the thighs are difficult to treat because the quality of the skin in that area is unique.

"The skin on the upper leg has poor elasticity and poor stretch," he says. He also says the skin in this area is thinner than the skin in other areas of the body. For that reason, simply removing misplaced fat doesn't always solve the problem.

If the problem is just fat and the pocket of fat is small, he says, then a treatment like Coolsculpting works for many patients. If the area of misplaced fat is larger, then the area will need liposuction. However, he cautions that if you simply remove the fat without considering the condition of the skin, then the skin may not shrink back and you will be left with a new problem of sagging skin.

Whether you choose surgical or nonsurgical medical treatments to slim down your legs, it's important to keep expectations in check.

Thigh Fat Treatments (Surgical)

If you choose to undergo surgery for thinner thighs, your choices include liposuction or a combination of treatments called a thigh lift.

  • Liposuction: The surgical removal of fat, or liposuction, is an effective treatment for many people who want reduce thigh fat. There have been new variations of liposuction (such as smart lipo or micro-laser lipo) that promise quick results with minimal downtime. But Dr. Maman says that traditional liposuction is still the gold standard. He says that it takes time to sculpt the thigh area properly and quick fix methods can lead to poor results.
  • Thigh lift: A thigh lift or thighplasty involves several different procedures to get the best result. It may involve excising (cutting) and lifting the skin, and performing liposuction to remove excess fat. The procedure is typically used for patients who have undergone significant weight loss and have excess skin (loose hanging skin) in the thigh area.

Even though these treatments are likely to be effective at reducing your thigh fat, the procedures are expensive and carry some risk. Risks of undergoing liposuction include complications such as pain, swelling, excessive bleeding, and changes in skin sensation. It is also possible to get an asymmetric (uneven) result.

The cost of your procedure will depend on a number of variables, but because the procedures are performed by a surgeon, in a surgical facility, and under some level of sedation, there are many different fees to consider. The total cost can range from $6000-$10,000 or more depending on many factors.

Thigh Fat Treatments (Non-surgical)

If you don't want to go under the knife for leaner legs, there are several body sculpting treatments from which to choose. Most use cooling methods (cryolipolysis), lasers (heat), or ultrasound to reduce fat in specific, targeted areas such as the thighs. According to Dr. Maman, treatments like Coolsculpting provide a result that is about 20-30 percent as effective as surgery (liposuction).

  • SculpSure (FDA-cleared light-based body contouring): A flat non-suction applicator delivers a hyperthermic laser to the inner or outer thighs followed by a cooling treatment. In the weeks following the procedure, fat cells in the treated area die off. Patients may begin to see results as early as 6 weeks after treatment, but it may take up to 12 weeks to get the full effect. Treatments usually last about 25 minutes, and you may experience tingling in the treated area during the procedure. Some patients also experience bruising. The total cost of treatment will depend on the number of applicators used and the number of treatments required. According to data from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and other sources, the total cost may range from approximately $1,500 to over $2,000.
  • Coolsculpting (FDA-cleared cryolipolysis procedure): This fat-freezing method uses suction with controlled cooling to destroy fat cells. Each treatment generally takes an hour or less, and you may experience mild discomfort from the suction applicator from the intense cooling. Some patients also experience bruising or stiffness in the treated area. After Coolsculpting, it takes anywhere from 3-12 weeks to see results. Several treatments may be required. The cost generally starts at approximately $750 per treatment, but the typical cost for a complete personalized treatment plan averages $2,000 to $4,000 according to the company.
  • Zerona (FDA-cleared cold laser technology): This device treats a combination of areas usually around the hips, waist, and thighs with low-level laser therapy. The painless procedure creates a pore in fat cells so that the fat leaks out. Multiple treatments are required for initial results, and most patients require some maintenance. The price of this option will vary based on your provider but a single treatment may start at approximately $175. However, since several treatments are required, most sources list the average cost at approximately $1,500 or more.
  • UltraShape (FDA-approved ultrasound technology): This procedure is FDA-cleared to treat fat on the belly, but the device can also be used by a doctor to target fat on your hips, outer thighs, or upper arms. Good candidates for this treatment should be able to pinch an inch of fat in their trouble spot. You may experience some bruising and pain with the procedure, but most patients find the procedure comfortable. Treatments generally cost about $1,000, but several treatments may be required.

These aren't the only non-surgical treatments available, but they are the most popular treatments that you are likely to find in your area. There are also home fat-freezing devices that claim to deliver similar results, but reviews of the devices are generally not good.

It's also important to note that treatments to get rid of thigh fat, will not get rid of cellulite. There are different procedures to manage the frustrating (but normal) skin condition.

Exercises for Thinner Thighs

Exercise can help you to shape the legs, but may not help your legs get thinner. When you start a program to burn calories with regular workouts–even if you focus on leg exercises–you'll see changes all over your body, not just in one area.

Jessica Osborne, fitness trainer, former Radio City Rockette, and owner of Savitri Yoga + Fitness in New York City works with clients to help them sculpt the long, lean legs of a dancer. But she says that it is impossible to spot reduce or lose weight from one area such as the thighs. Instead, she recommends "cardio-amped" workouts that burn calories for fat loss all over the body. She also includes strength training to shape the quadriceps (front of the thigh) and hamstrings (back of the thigh).

So what are the best exercises to get thinner thighs? "Squats, lunges and walking up stairs," says Osborne, "these are three things you can do every day, no matter how busy you are." In her Savitri Barre Sculpt class, she uses squats, lunges, and tons of barre exercises that replicate functional movements that we do in everyday life.

"It's time to stop sitting into our hips (notice how you're standing when you're relaxing) and start really using our legs and our buns. A few sets of lunges and squats a day with some pulses at the end, in addition to opting for the stairs, can make a big difference in the way you feel and the way you look."

Diet Tricks to Get Leaner Legs

You may see the greatest changes in your legs by changing your diet. Even though exercise can burn calories, fat loss is most likely to happen when you change your daily eating habits.

"Cut the sugar, lessen the booze, drink your water and be physical every day. These are the keys to your leg goals," says Osborne.

And the good news is that you don't need to go on a strict diet to see results. Simply cutting back on starchy, refined carbohydrates may help to ease bloating that might make your thighs feel fatter.

Over the long term, a healthy eating program that includes lean protein, healthy fats in moderation, and plenty of fruits and vegetables is likely to give you a leaner, healthier body and thinner thighs. Reduce your intake of empty calories and keep portion sizes in control to reach a healthy body weight.

If you're not sure where to begin, keep a food journal for a week to see how many calories you typically eat each day. Then compare that number to the number of calories you burn each day. If you eat more than you should, use a calorie calculator to get a personalized daily calorie target for weight loss.

Wardrobe Tricks to Make Thighs Look Thinner

The easiest way to "get rid" of thigh fat is to disguise it with smart wardrobe tricks. You probably have items in your closet that can make your legs look longer and your thighs look thinner.

Try boosting your body confidence with any of these style hacks:

  • Choose pants with a wider base. Boot cut jeans, bell bottoms, and other wide leg styles change the proportion of your leg so your upper leg looks thinner.
  • Wear a thicker belt. Another way to create the illusion of leaner legs is to choose a belt that is wide. A strong horizontal line above your thighs helps them to look more narrow.
  • Wear a shaper. Many brands like Spanx, SkinnyGirl, and Yummie make shapers that you can wear under your pants and skirts to give a sleeker, smoother, thinner look to your upper leg.
  • Buy pants cut with wide or forward side seam. Some designers make jeans and slacks that have a side seam that is slightly forward on the hip. It makes the front of your legs look thinner as a result.
  • Use self-tanner. If you plan to wear shorts or a bathing suit where your bare legs will show, use self-tanner to give your thighs a bronze glow. You can even go to a professional self-tanning studio and request that the color ​be contoured so that your legs look leaner.
  • Apply lifting tape. If sagging skin above your knees makes your thighs look fat, then try using inexpensive lifting tape. The adhesive strips are applied on the upper leg to lift the skin and give it a smoother appearance.

A Word From Verywell

If you don't like the appearance of your thighs, it's smart to try traditional methods like diet and exercise to change the way they look. But if you've tried to lose thigh fat without success and the trouble spot bothers you, then you may want to consider a medical treatment. Stay safe by choosing a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon who has experience with different treatments and can offer insight into the best treatment for you. Then keep your weight steady after the procedure is complete to maintain your results.

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