Dissatisfaction with the thighs, similar to that of the upper arms, revolves around excess skin with or without excess fat.  Excess sagging skin of the thighs can occur with aging and weight loss.  While excess fat with good skin elasticity can typically be addressed with liposuction alone, excess skin of the thigh usually requires excision.  A thigh lift is the surgery to remove excess skin of the thigh to lift and tighten, giving it a better contour.  (See before and after photos of thigh lift surgery)

What is thigh lift surgery?

Type of incisions and final scar will depend on the individual’s body habitus.  This will be accessed by Dr. Baotram Tran during your consultation.  If you have excess fat as well, then the procedure can be combined with liposuction to remove the excess fat to achieve the optimal contour.  The vertical incision is often used for most patients.  This will result in a vertical scar in the medial aspect of the thigh above the knee and below the groin crease.  If there is significant sagging of the thigh, an extension will be needed just below the groin crease medially to remove excess skin around the groin to lift the thigh in both dimensions.  This will result in a “T” shape scar medially.  In a small number of patients with limited sagging of the medial thighs, a crescent excision can be performed, limiting the scar to just below the groin crease medially without the vertical component.

Who is a candidate for a thigh lift?

The transformation from the thigh lift is life changing for the appropriate candidate.  Ideal candidates are those with significant excess skin with or without excess fat, in good health, do not smoke or vape or use nicotine products, and accept the presence of a long scar(s) on the inner thigh.  If you cannot accept the scar, then you should not have this surgery.

Can the thigh lift be combined with other procedures?

Typically, the thigh lift can be safely combined with liposuction or other procedures.  A consultation is necessary to determine if the procedures can be performed safely together.

What is the recovery after a thigh lift?

Patient goes home on the same day after the thigh lift surgery.  A drain is placed in each thigh to remove the excess fluid to reduce risk of fluid collection.  The drains usually stay in place for about 1-2 weeks before the drainage is low enough that it can safely be removed.  You will see significant improvement in contour immediately.  Bruising and swelling will occur after surgery.  While bruising will typically resolve in about 2 weeks, swelling can take 3-6 months to resolve completely.  Light compression of the thigh is recommended for at least 4-6 weeks to help reduce swelling and risk of fluid collection or seroma.  Most patients return to normal activities in 1-2 days.  Avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for at least 6 weeks.  Most patients return to work in 2 weeks with no heavy lifting restriction.  Walking after surgery is encouraged to reduce risk of forming blood clots.  You will need to use a donut pillow when sitting for 6 weeks after surgery to allow optimal healing if your surgery involves removal of the tissue along the groin crease.

What are the complications?

The scar in a thigh lift surgery is significant and long.  Due to the location of the scar and movement, some patients might not heal as well as others with poor scarring, stretched out scar, or hypertrophic scar.  Numbness of the surrounding area is usually temporary but can be permanent in some patients.  The drain helps remove fluid your body produces after surgery at the surgical site.  Despite drain placement, some patients can still accumulate fluid after the drain is removed that would require drainage in the office using needle aspiration.  It’s uncommon that a drain will need to be replaced.  There is also a risk of forming blood clots after surgery, hence walking after surgery is encouraged and avoiding prolonged sitting or laying in bed to reduce the risk.