A thigh lift or thigh reduction is a cosmetic surgery procedure done to tighten sagging muscles and remove excess skin in the thigh area. Many women are concerned about the size and shape of their thighs. The classic English ‘pear shape’ means that lots of women store fat in this area and find it difficult to shift with diet and exercise alone. Thigh reduction surgery can greatly improve the body contour and give you a renewed sense of confidence. Thigh lift cosmetic surgery can be performed in conjunction with other procedures such as liposuction, lower body lift and a thigh and buttock lift.
Many women store excess fat on their hips and thighs, which they find difficult to remove with diet and exercise alone.
You may be a suitable candidate for thigh lift if:
- You are bothered by sagging or drooping skin on the upper thigh
- You have lost a lot of weight and have excess skin
- Your weight is relatively stable
- You are physically and emotionally healthy
- You are a non-smoker
- You have realistic expectations for what thigh lift surgery can accomplish for you
Thigh lift surgery is not a substitute for weight loss so it is important that you have realistic expectations about what can be achieved with the surgery. Ideally you should not be more than 15% over your ideal weight before you undergo this procedure. If you are planning on losing weight it is best to do so before undergoing any procedure as weight loss can dramatically alter the aesthetics of the result.
If you are generally fit and healthy then there should be no reasons not to undergo thigh lift surgery. Certain medical conditions and medications may affect whether you are a suitable candidate for thigh lift surgery. This includes those who suffer from inflamed blood vessels on the legs known as phlebitis. Those who have a history of keloid scarring may also be advised not to undergo this surgery as the scars are very long and visible.
There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Immediately after surgery you may have quite bad bruising, swelling and tightness in the thighs. You may also experience pain and discomfort. This should be managed with painkillers but if it becomes severe and you suspect you may have an infection, contact our surgeon immediately.
Other thigh lift risks and complications may include:
- Blood clots
- Allergic reaction to the anesthetic
- Hematoma (collection of blood under the skin)
- Seroma (build-up of fluid)
- Unfavorable scarring
- Poor wound healing
Before making the decision to undergo thigh lift surgery, you should find out as much information as possible about the procedure, the surgeon and hospital you are being treated at.
Always discuss the procedure with your clinic or hospital first and then go away and think about it before making your decision. You should also have a consultation of at least an hour with your surgeon before going ahead. Do not be afraid to ask any questions and make sure all of your concerns are addressed before you sign on the dotted line. The most important thing is to make an informed decision that you feel confident about. During your consultation your surgeon should take a thorough medical history and give you a consent form to sign to make sure you fully understand the possible risks and complications. The consultation will also be a time to discuss alternatives such a liposuction or a body lift, which may better suit your needs. You should also inform your GP about having the surgery in case there are any problems later on.
If you’re having general anesthetic you should avoid taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs for a period of 10 days before your surgery, because they case the blood to thin and make surgery more dangerous. If you are a smoker then you should also give up smoking at least two months before the procedure, as it increases the risks and can delay the healing process.
Thigh lift surgery is usually performed under general anesthetic however it can be done under intravenous sedation. General anesthetic does carry more risks but your surgeon should discuss this with you fully at your consultation.
After you have been sedated or anesthetized your surgeon will make the incisions. The incision patterns vary based on individual cases. However, incisions are normally placed in the groin, extending downward, and then traversing around the back of the thigh. The underlying tissue is reshaped and tightened, and the skin is reduced and re-draped over the new, smooth body contour.
Another technique involves an incision only in the groin area. Your thigh lift surgeon will determine the appropriate option for you.
Deep internal sutures are placed within underlying tissues help to support the newly shaped contours. Sutures are then used to close the skin incisions.
The procedure will take between two and three hours, depending on the amount of excess skin you have and whether or not your thigh lift is being combined with another procedure such as liposuction.
When your thigh lift procedure is complete, dressings 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. You may also have a drain fitted to drain any excess fluid or blood.
Recovery from this procedure can be quite difficult as there can be significant pain and discomfort, so it is advisable to have someone drive you home and stay with you for a few days after surgery.
You will have bruising, swelling and tightness in the thighs after surgery which can take some time to disappear.
Stitches are usually removed within a week after surgery as well as any surgical drains. Deeper sutures are usually removed two or three weeks after surgery.
You should be given compression garments to wear for three to four weeks after your surgery. These can minimize swelling and aid lymphatic drainage which speeds up the healing process.
Thigh lift recovery time is usually one to two weeks. You should be able to return to work after two to three weeks. Most of the swelling will disappear after about three weeks. You should avoid strenuous activity for about a month but light exercise is sometimes recommended to reduce the risks of blood clots.
Meet the experts featured
on our global TV Series
Dr. Dilip Madnani
Dr. Marina Peredo
Dr. Jayson Oates
Dr. Lauren Bramley
Dr. Catherine Stone
Dr. Nicole Yap
Dr. Sean Kelishadi
Dr. William Mooney
Dr. Dilip Madnani