The Basics of Thighplasty (Thigh Lift Surgery)

The Surgical Procedure That Contours Your Thighs

Cosmetic surgery markings on a woman’s legs.
Cosmetic surgery markings on a woman’s legs. Brad Wilson/Getty Images

A thighplasty, also known as a thigh lift, is a cosmetic surgical procedure to tighten and improve the appearance of your thighs due to excess skin on your thighs that can be a result of aging, pregnancy, or a significant weight loss. Your thighs may look dimpled with sagging skin or have a flabby appearance. The goal of a thigh lift is to lift and contour your thighs so that they look slim and in proportion with the rest of your body.

A combination of a thighplasty and liposuction techniques may be performed to give the thighs a smoother, more toned appearance.

People considering thigh lift surgery should know that it is not a surgical means for losing weight. It is a procedure for those who are close to their ideal weight but unhappy with the appearance of their thighs.

Types of Thigh Lifts

There are three types of thighplasty: inner, medial, and bilateral.

  1. An inner thigh lift targets the skin in the lower portion of the inner thigh
  2. A medial thigh lift targets the skin and fat on the upper part of the inner thigh
  3. A bilateral thigh lift focuses on the skin on the front and outside of the thigh

Inner and medial thighplasty procedures are usually performed on an outpatient basis. A bilateral thigh lift may require an overnight stay in the hospital.

The Thigh Lift Procedure

Thighplasty is usually performed as an outpatient procedure with general anesthesia or an epidural.

Depending on the type of thigh lift and the area being treated, the incision pattern will vary. The most common thigh lift technique begins with an incision in the groin area. In all cases, skin and/or fat is removed; the underlying tissue is reshaped and tightened and the remaining skin is lifted and smoothed, and sutured into place at the incision site.

Surgery typically takes 2 to 3 hours.

Recovery from Thigh Lift Procedure

Post-operatively, there will be bruising, swelling and soreness in the area. You will need to wear compression garments to minimize the swelling and promote healing. You may have drains in place to collect excess fluid and reduce the risk of infection. You will need to record the amount of fluid collected in a log book. When the level of fluid removed meets with your surgeon’s expectations, the drains will be removed.

The surgical sutures will be removed within two weeks. Pain medication and anti-inflammatory medications are typically prescribed during the post-operative period. You will not be able to use a bathtub, swim, or use a hot tub until you receive clearance from your surgeon. You may shower 48 hours after the procedure. You will most likely be able to return to work within 7 to 10 days and resume physical activity after 4 to 6 weeks. While there are scars, they are mostly hidden in your body's natural creases, and they will fade over time.

Risks of Thighplasty

There are risks associated with any type of surgery. The risks with a thighplasty include the following:

  • Anesthesia risks
  • Poor healing of the wound
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Asymmetry
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Pain
  • Pulmonary or cardiac complications
  • Fat necrosis
  • Skin loss or discoloration
  • Numbness
  • Loose skin
  • Unattractive scarring

You may need to undergo revision surgery to correct these types of problems.

Results of Thighplasty

The results of your thigh lift will be seen immediately, but full results are generally only seen after a few months when the swelling goes down.

Sources:

American Society of Plastic Surgeons

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

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