While many people are frustrated with stubborn fatty deposits of the thighs, there are more serious aesthetic issues than just extra fat that can occur in the thigh area and these issues occur more often than most people realize. Problems like lax, hanging skin, poor thigh contour, a disproportionate overall appearance, and stubborn fat that just won’t respond to traditional methods of weight loss like diet and exercise can be extremely irritating and embarrassing for people who deal with them.
A 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.
Important Things to Know About Thigh Lift
There are certain risks associated with Thigh Lift like fluid accumulation, change in skin sensation, nerve damage, need for revision surgery, etc. Patients are made to sign a form prior to the surgery, to ensure that all the potential risks related to the surgery are well understood by them.
This surgery is not recommended for heavy smokers, patients taking anticoagulants, people with cardiac problems and poor health.
No aerobic exercises, swimming, golf, heavy lifting or any other vigorous exercise should be performed for at least 3 weeks.
A patient needs to follow certain precautions and take certain steps before heading towards thigh lift. These include adjusting current medications, avoiding smoking and consumption of drugs like Aspirin that cause blood thinning. Also, a patient should get a medical evaluation done before the surgery.
After the procedure is performed, in order to prevent fluid formation, the patient is kept on surgical drains for a few days. The final result of the surgery may be seen after easing up of swelling and bruising.
Who are the ideal candidates for a thigh lift?
Ideal thigh lift candidates include those who:
Are at a stable weight
Have excess soft tissue in the outer or inner thighs (which exercise has been unable to remove)
Have excess cellulite and stubborn fat in the thighs
Can commit to leading a healthy lifestyle in terms of exercise and diet
Are non-smokers or are smoke and nicotine-free for at least 6 weeks before surgery
Have realistic expectations of what thigh lift surgery can achieve
Have an optimistic outlook and are emotionally ready for surgery.
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:
Medications to avoid
When to take your prescribed medications
Proper washing techniques
Restrictions regarding eating and drinking the night before surgery
Thigh Lift Procedure
If excessive unwanted fat is still present in the thigh area and will not resolve on its own, liposuction may be performed as a separate surgery several months before the thigh lift procedure to improve the overall results of the thigh lift. For patients with smaller areas of unwanted fat, these can be addressed during the surgery itself.
Thigh lift surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia for patient safety and comfort. First, incisions are placed in the most discreet areas possible, whether the procedure involves the outer thighs, the inner thighs, or both. The outer thigh lift is often combined with a tummy tuck with the scar located in the lower abdomen. For an inner thigh lift, this incision typically starts at the groin and extends downward, sometimes reaching all the way to the knee. The size of these incisions will depend on the extent of the procedure and the amount of excess skin present. Through these incisions, the surgeon will tighten and remove the excess skin, smooth out any fatty deposits, and contour the thigh for an improved overall appearance.
Thigh lift Risks
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 a 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.
What are the risks of thigh lift surgery?
The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal, and you’ll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications of thigh lift surgery are acceptable. Your plastic surgeon and/or staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications.
Possible thigh lift surgery risks include:
Poor wound healing
Fluid accumulation (seroma)
Major wound separation
Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
Fatty tissue under the skin might die (fat necrosis)
Skin discoloration and/or swelling
Sutures may spontaneously surface through the skin, become visible or produce irritation that requires removal
Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
Recurrent looseness of skin
Possibility of revisionary surgery
These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It’s important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.
Tight Lift Recovery
Downtime is dependent upon the specific technique employed, but in most cases, full recovery can be expected after six to eight weeks. Your surgeon may prescribe narcotic pain relievers at first, followed by double-strength, over-the-counter pain medication such as Tylenol for up to seven days. Expect to be away from work for at least two weeks — some surgeons recommend a longer recovery period, especially for patients with jobs that are more physically demanding. Bandages will be applied following surgery, and drains may also be used to remove excess fluid or blood. Compression garments should also be worn for the first few weeks to minimize swelling. Giving your incisions time to heal by avoiding strenuous activity is critical to ensuring a smooth recovery, and ultimately ensuring that your stitches don’t open. Assuming that you follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions, you can expect your scars to fade into very fine, barely perceptible lines over time.
Frequently Asked Questions for Thigh Lift
How long does the surgery last?
The surgery usually lasts for around 20 years varying from person to person but the effects of aging, gravity and sun exposure are unavoidable. Usually, suggestions are given by the surgeon to maintain the surgery.
Can I walk after the surgery?
A patient is made to walk very short distances from the next day of surgery to avoid the formation of blood clots.
Will there be scars after surgery?
Every surgery leaves a scar and so does thigh lift. But usually, the scars are placed in such a way so that they are not visible or are hidden by clothing. Further, the length and location of the scar depend upon the amount of fat removed and the type of surgery performed.
When can I get back to work?
Normally, a person can get back to work after 4-5 weeks, when the recovery timeline is completed.