Thighplasty (or thigh lift) refers to procedure to remove excess skin and fat from the upper thigh region. Most common reason for patients to seek this surgery is the development of excess thigh skin from dramatic weight loss. Most often, the inner thigh fat and excess skin are the main concerns. However, the outer thighs can also be reshaped to achieve a smoother hip/thigh transition or to attain a more athletic look.
With the advance of skin tightening and liposuction technologies, many patients can attain significant improvement of their thighs to more toned and athletic appearance without significant scarring. However, when the less invasive approaches are not indicated, in cases where significant skin excess is the main concern, different types of thigh lifts can address different contour problems and severity of skin excess.
Mini Thigh Lift, or crescentic thigh lift, is suitable for patients with very little excess skin and fat in the medial thigh areas. It involves a crescent incision hidden along the groin grease. Skin excess and fat removal through combination of direct excision and liposuction can be performed. This procedure is largely replaced by minimally invasive skin tightening technology with or without liposuction.
Medial Thigh Lift, or vertical medial thigh lift, is commonly performed for patients who had a drastic weight change and significant skin excess. As the name implies, it involves vertical incision along the inner thighs to remove the excess skin. Most often, a small extension along the groin crease is necessary to create a smooth transition between the groins and the thighs. This procedure is often paired with liposuction for optimal contouring. The scar is placed strategically to no be visible from standing frontal view.
Outer/lateral thigh lift, or lower body lift, is a powerful contouring procedure that is often done with abdominoplasty to address the excess skin and fat of the outer thighs/hip areas. The incision is from the existing abdominoplasty incision to around the hip. Excess fat is often removed with liposuction to facilitate removal of excess skin. The remaining tissue is secured to the hip bone to prevent sagging after surgery. The scar can be concealed with normal undergarments.
Who is a Good Candidate for Thighplasty (Thigh Lift)?
The best candidates are healthy people with realistic expectations of surgery. Smoking however is a contraindication for this cosmetic procedure as historically smokers have significantly more complications, specifically wound break down and tissue necrosis. Non-smokers or former smokers who are in good health and stable weight will have the best outcomes. Lower extremity in general does not heal as quickly as upper extremity, therefore nutritional and medical optimization prior to surgery is crucial to good recovery and surgical outcomes.
How is Thighplasty Surgery Performed?
Thighplasty is generally performed under general anesthesia in an operating room. Depending on the amount of excess fat and skin and patients’ goals, different type of thigh lift can be performed. Liposuction is often part of the procedure. Regardless of the type, the results are often dramatic. In addition to removal of excess skin, various types of skin tightening technology can also be used to maximize toning of the arms after surgery.
What is the Recovery?
Patients are typically able to go home after the procedure. Downtime from a thighplasty is about three to four weeks. Most patients can return to work (with lifting restriction) after two weeks. Bruising and swelling will be greatest in the first week but should resolve in two weeks. Activities, including exercise, should be limited for six weeks after surgery. Although this is not a very painful procedure, during the first month after surgery, patients often report tightness around the operated area. Compression garments should be worn 24/7 for the first six weeks to reduce swelling and shearing of the incisions.