What is a Thigh Lift?
A Thigh Lift (Thighplasty) is a surgical procedure that removes loose and sagging skin on the inside of the thighs. The extent of skin removal can be limited to the upper thighs, or it can stretch from the groin crease to the knee or lower depending on how much extra skin is present. If there is excess fat present, it will also need to be removed in order to assist with contouring the leg well.
Who is a Good Candidate for a Thigh Lift?
Patients who are good candidates for Thigh Lifts/Thighplasties typically are healthy and have minimal to no medical problems. At minimum, they should maintain a stable, relatively low weight, but ideally, they should diet and exercise to get to their lowest possible weight. They should not smoke in order to minimize the risk of wound healing problems after surgery. They must have realistic expectations as the results are often limited by the anatomy and the amount of residual fat left on the thighs.
Often, patients who require Thigh Lifts are those that have had bariatric (weight loss) surgery, and now have deflated skin after the fat has gone away. These patients should wait until they have reached their lowest weight after their gastric sleeve/gastric bypass surgery before getting a thighplasty in order to get the best results. They should also continue any bariatric medications and vitamins they were prescribed after surgery.
Often, these patients will also require multiple other surgeries at the same time to lift their breasts, abdomen, and backs.
How Do I Prepare for a Thigh Lift?
Typically, to get ready for your Thigh Lift, you will need to get medical clearance from your doctor. Labs will often be required, including a complete blood count (CBC), basic metabolic panel (BMP), blood clotting tests, and an EKG.
We may ask you to cleanse your body with an antiseptic wash for several days prior to surgery. Any jewelry in the lower body region should be removed. You should also quit smoking 6 weeks prior to surgery until 6 weeks after surgery to minimize complications. (Better yet, quit for good!)
Ideally, you should diet and exercise to reach your lowest attainable weight and maintain it. You’ll have a good idea if you can maintain it long term if you can keep it stable for a minimum of 3 months. The best results are obtained in those patients with the lowest body fat percentage. However, good results can still be achieved in patients with a moderate amount of thigh fat. Dr. Nguyen will evaluate you and make recommendations as to the best result that can be achieved for your anatomy.
What is Involved in a Thigh Lift?
In a full Thigh Lift, an incision is made on the inside (medial) thigh, starting along the groin crease and extending down towards the knee. Direct excision or liposuction may be used to help remove any excess fat in the area and contour the thigh, including any fat bulging just above the knee. The excess skin is then removed, and the skin edges are sewn together with absorbable sutures.
You may have drains placed that come out along the lower thighs. These will help prevent any fluid from building up in your thighs after surgery. You will be placed in a garment after surgery to protect your incisions and to help reduce swelling.
A mini-Thigh Lift may be performed for patients who only have a small amount of excess skin and fat in the upper thigh. Much smaller incisions are used, typically running along the groin crease towards the lower buttock in the back.
Dr. Nguyen will take the time to discuss the length of incisions and the amount of fat removal that will be right for you.
What is the Recovery from a Thigh Lift?
Patients usually go home the same day after a Thigh Lift. Drains are usually removed within 1-2 weeks after the procedure once drainage has decreased.
You will wear a compression garment around the thighs for 6 weeks total. Additionally, the thighs may be wrapped with ACE wraps from the feet all the way up to the hips to reduce swelling, to prevent edema in the legs and feet, and to take tension off of the incisions.
Patients will need to replace these daily and often ask family members to help. Patients may complain of soreness for 1-2 weeks. Swelling and bruising are typically present for 2-3 weeks. Full healing should occur by 6 weeks after surgery. Heavy duty lifting and work should be avoided for 6 weeks. Most patients can return to light duty work within 2 weeks.
To access full postoperative instructions, please click here.
What are the Risks of a Thigh Lift?
Risks from a Thighplasty include bleeding and infection. Although the groin region is generally contaminated, infection is rare. Patients are given an antibiotic after surgery to help prevent infections. However, they will also have to work diligently to make sure the surgical area stays clean and unsoiled.
It is important not to smoke or be around smokers before surgery or during the healing process as it may increase the risk of skin necrosis (death), yielding a poor overall result. Long term risks include poor lymphatic drainage from the legs, resulting in edema or lymphedema.
Risks can be minimized by adhering very closely to the prescribed postoperative instructions as given by your surgeon.
What Can I Expect from a Thigh Lift?
Thigh Lifts can be remarkably transformative procedures. Generally, they will immediately improve your sagging thigh skin and decrease the amount of fat present. Some swelling will be present after surgery and improves over 2-3 weeks.
The scars are significant, often extending from the groin crease to the knee. However, they generally fade and improve with time. Patients must be diligent about wearing their garments and keeping their thighs wrapped in order to minimize any hypertrophic or widened scars. Silicone gel or compresses may improve results. Always be sure to consult with a Board Eligible or a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon to determine if getting a Thigh Lift surgery is right for you! Dr. David Nguyen specializes in post-bariatric (massive weight loss) patients and would be happy to see you in consultation to walk you through the process and discuss your results. Call 657-900-5055 for a free consultation today!