A thigh lift, also known as thighplasty, is a surgical procedure that improves the contour of the thighs and buttocks by lifting and tightening loose skin in the area. This procedure may be recommended to patients who have excess, loose and sagging skin in the thighs due to a large amount of weight loss or previous liposuction procedures. A thigh lift is not a substitute for a healthy weight loss program that includes a nutritious, low-calorie diet and exercise. Rather, it is used after the weight loss is complete when resulting sags and dimples in the skin must be addressed. The best candidates for thighplasty are in good general health without any chronic conditions, do not smoke and have realistic expectations for the procedure.
There are a number of different procedures to address the needs of specific areas of the thigh. All may be particularly helpful to patients who want to improve the contour of the thigh and get rid of excess, sagging skin after losing a significant amount of weight. Which procedure should be used for any given area will often be decided by the cosmetic surgeon after a thorough examination of the area and a discussion with the patient about the expected outcome of the surgery.
An inner thigh lift targets the skin around the inner thigh, and is often the procedure of choice for patients who are dealing with sagging skin as the result of significant weight loss or due to the aging process. The incision for the inner thigh lift is typically made around the groin area so that it can be hidden beneath underwear or a bathing suit. Sometimes liposuction is done in conjunction with an inner thigh lift, either before, during or after the procedure.
This procedure addresses the skin on the upper part of the inner thigh. In this procedure, the incision generally runs from the groin area around the inside of the leg to the crease of the buttock. This type of thigh lift is most often performed under a general anesthesia.
The bilateral thigh lift targets the area from the outside of the thigh to the front of the thigh. The incision is usually made at the top of the leg and the surgeon aims to follow the line of a bathing suit or underwear so that the scar may be hidden from view. In some cases, a bilateral thigh lift is combined with liposuction for best results. A buttocks lift may also be considered in some of these cases.
Prior to the surgery, the surgeon performs a complete medical evaluation. At this time, the patient is provided with instructions to follow prior to and after the procedure. These instructions may include guidelines for eating, drinking and smoking. The surgeon will also talk to the patient about which vitamins and medications are advantageous prior to surgery and which should be avoided. Another important topic is patient expectations which may affect the outcome of the surgery. Realistic expectations will increase the odds of a successful procedure and a thorough discussion regarding what to expect during post-operative recovery and months after the procedure is important.
A thigh lift is usually performed as an outpatient procedure and usually under general anesthesia. The area is marked prior to surgery while the patient is in a standing position. The procedure generally takes approximately two hours, depending on the patient and what is needed. Deep sutures are used to close any incisions, which will dissolve within four months. It is important for a patient to have someone helping them get home after the surgery and if possible, to help for a couple of days afterward.
Patients are usually advised to take seven to ten days off work for recovery time. During this period, patients must remain in either a reclining or standing position, since sitting is not allowed during the recovery process. Some bruising and swelling may occur after the surgery, and could last up to one month. The majority of patients recover well after a thigh lift, with most returning to all normal activities within four to six months.
As with any type of surgical procedure, there are some risks involved with thighplasty. These risks might include infection or swelling at the site of the incision, fluid accumulation and blood clots, changes in the sensation of the skin such as numbness, pain and poor wound healing. Some of these risks can be compounded by smoking too close to the date of surgery, since smoking can decrease the blood supply to the body's tissues.
One way to reduce risks after any surgical procedure is to strictly follow the surgeon's post-operative directions. A list of instructions is generally sent home with the patient after surgery with specific guidelines to follow to ensure a full recovery. Choosing a qualified, experienced surgeon will also help to ensure that the procedure is a success.
Thigh lift costs vary based on location, the cosmetic surgeon, demand, the time and effort required during the procedure, as well as what's required during the procedure from start to finish (lab fees, anesthesiologist, hospital stay fee, etc.) Generally, spending anywhere from $4,500 to $6,000 can be expected. The exact cost of the procedure is of course highly variable and based on the specific situation. To consult with a cosmetic surgeon and discuss thigh lift procedures and the overall cost, find a surgeon in your area that is right for you.
Disclaimer: This information is intended only as an introduction to this procedure. This information should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor does it guarantee results of your elective surgery. Further details regarding surgical standards and procedures should be discussed with your physician.
By OnlineSurgery Staff
Updated: November 3, 2008