Thigh lift or “thighplasty” is a surgical procedure designed to remove excess skin from the inner thigh. It is a procedure that commonly is performed in patients who have lost a large amount of weight and have loose sagging skin on the inner thighs.
This procedure can tighten the loose skin on the inner thigh but involves a scar that can run down the entire length of the thigh when an extensive amount of skin is removed. Shorter scars can be used for less extensive amounts of loose skin. The appearance of the thigh scar is unpredictable, but the scars tend to fade with time.
Who is a Candidate?
Patients of any age with loose skin on the thighs may be candidates for this procedure.
Before the Procedure
Your plastic surgeon will perform a comprehensive evaluation of your thighs, including any limitations in range of motion or previous injuries or surgeries. You will receive specific guidelines about preparing for surgery including:
- Smoking cessation
- Medications to avoid
- When to take your prescribed medications
- Proper washing techniques
- Restrictions regarding eating and drinking the night before surgery
Your plastic surgeon will listen carefully to your concerns about excess skin on your thighs, as well as your surgical goals and expectations. The length and position of the scar on your thighs will be discussed, and the surgeon can draw the approximate scar location on your leg with a medical skin marker.
The most common alternative to removal of the skin is liposuction. Risks and benefits specific to all procedures will be discussed in greater detail during your initial consultation.
In addition to the aesthetic evaluation, your surgeon will perform a careful evaluation of your overall health, as well as issues that could cause complications, such as:
- Your blood pressure
- b=Bleeding tendencies
- History of adverse scar formation after previous surgeries
Where Will the Surgery Be Performed?
A thigh lift usually is done in a hospital as outpatient surgery. You must be driven to and from the hospital by a friend or family member. If you are combining a thighlift with another body contouring procedure, you probably will stay one or two nights in the hospital.
Type of Anesthesia
Thigh lift typically is done under general anesthesia.
Immediate Postoperative Recovery
In most cases, patients may experience pain in the thighs for the first 24 to 48 hours, and compressive wraps are placed on the thighs.
In most cases, patients will be able to go out in public in four to five days. You should keep your legs elevated as much as possible for the first week after surgery. Showering is permitted within the first several days. Vigorous physical activity is limited for four weeks following surgery. Swelling in the ankles may be noticed as you become more active.
A thigh lift tightens the skin on the upper thighs, but involves a permanent scar that may be quite visible and is considered major surgery. A thigh lift does not correct loose skin on the calves, and there may be a noticeable transition where the newly tightened skin of the upper leg meets the calf. In addition to the risks associated with anesthesia, leg swelling may occur after this procedure. This often improves with time, but can be permanent in some cases (lymphedema).
Portions of the wound may be slow to heal, especially up in the groin crease where it is moist and there is a lot of friction with moving, and require treatment with gauze dressings. Infection and bleeding are uncommon with thigh lift, but can occur. Not every person is a candidate for this procedure, and your risks may be greater or different than those of other patients. Your plastic surgeon will review all potential risks and complications with you prior to the surgery.
Thigh lift usually produces a tightened and more youthful and attractive appearance to the inner thigh. The permanent scar may stay thick and red, but tends to fade over time and reaches its final appearance over 12 to 18 months.