With more and more patients losing massive amounts of weight through either bariatric surgery or simply lifestyle changes, a more aggressive approach to reshaping the thighs becomes necessary in order to eliminate fat and sagging skin, tighten tissues, and sculpt a balanced, attractive thigh. Over the past 5 years, there have been advances in thigh lift procedures that have produced remarkable results with acceptable scars. Click here to Request Your Consultation at Genesis Cosmetic Surgery and Laser Center.
Thighs can be lifted from the outside, the inside, or completely circumferential. The outer thigh, also called the lateral thigh, is lifted as part of the lower body lift procedure. The inner thigh, called the medial thigh, is often lifted as a separate procedure, called a medial thighplasty, after a tummy tuck or lower body lift has already been performed. In situations where the thigh is excessively heavy, large, droopy, and with excessive skin, both St. Louis liposuction and medial and lateral thigh lift may be needed. Thigh lift combined with liposuction and abdominoplasty or lower body lift produce dramatic body transformation that changes the way you feel, changes the way your clothes fit, gives you self-confidence and self esteem, and even improves your sex life.
Thigh lifts change the size and shape of the thigh by lifting the droopy, thigh tissues and by removing excessive fat and skin. It is perhaps the only reliable way to significantly improve thigh cellulite. The procedures will make the thigh smaller in circumference, remove isolated fat pockets, lift droopy thigh tissues, tighten thigh tissues, and remove loose, sagging skin. In addition, the hips and buttocks also have improved contour when the outer thigh is lifted.
Good candidates for thighplasty are patients who want to reduce, reshape, and lift the thighs and buttocks and are willing to accept the incisions. You may be a good candidate for thighplasty if you have the following:
The thigh lift addresses all of these areas by eliminating excess fat and skin, restoring aesthetic contours, and creating a more enhanced, well-proportioned and fit lower trunk and thigh shape. Following thigh lift there is a dramatic change in measurements and clothing sizes. Patients report feeling healthier; they have less problems with skin crease irritation; exercise and physical activity is easier and more enjoyable; you become more active; you are more confident; you have a boost in self-confidence and your body image. As a result, sexual relationships improve, making sex more enjoyable for all parties.
Having a thigh lift procedure is a very personal decision, and we want to make sure all of your options are explored and your questions and concerns addressed. The consultation will begin with a complete medical history and exam. You should tell us if you have any history of prior weight loss surgery, abdominal surgery, previous thigh surgery or trauma, leg blood clots, lipoplasty, or any history of poor scarring. If you are planning to lose an additional significant amount of weight or you may want to become pregnant in the future, you should discuss this with Dr. Jones. You will be asked about the changes you seek, and your exercise and dietary habits. This will help us understand your expectations and determine a plan that best addresses your expectations.
The examination will evaluate the size and shape of your lower trunk and thighs, the quality of your skin, any scars, and the condition of your thigh tissues. Other treatment options available will be discussed. You can see photos of recent patients before and after surgery. Patient references are available upon request. The estimated costs of the treatment will be explained. Photographs will be taken for your medical record.
Other issues that will be discussed include:
The incision used for any thighplasty produces a permanent, noticeable scar. An outer thigh lift places the incision in an area covered by underwear. The scar is placed low on the stomach just above the pubic hair area and extends toward the hip bones. At the hip bone the scar gently curves toward the top of the buttock crease to meet the incision from the other side. The scar placement is determined by where you wear your clothing, and it can be easily hidden by clothing. An inner thigh lift places the incision in the groin crease and a vertical incision on the inside of the thigh from the knee to the groin crease.
Every patient has a different tolerance for discomfort. Our aim is to make your surgery and recovery as pleasant as possible. We use a combination of medications and pain pumps to manage postoperative pain. One of the more recent advances in pain control is the use of pain pumps for breast surgery and body contouring procedures. Pain pumps effectively reduce pain, facilitate recovery, and reduce the need for stronger pain medication, which can potentially cause nausea and constipation.
Thighplasty is considered a cosmetic surgery, and health insurance does not cover any of the costs of the surgery. You will be provided with an estimate that includes the surgeon’s fee, the hospital and anesthesia charges, and any additional anticipated expenses for supplies. Included in your estimate will be a cosmetic surgery insurance policy to cover additional hospital costs in the unusual event in which a medical complication arises and it is not covered by your own medical insurance policy.
Patients who undergo body-contouring procedures are generally very pleased to have their body. However, as with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks from anesthesia, bleeding or infection. Fortunately, none of these are very frequent complications. The following are other potential risks of any body lifting procedure, including lower body lift, tummy tuck, and thigh and buttock lifts:
Seroma–When lift procedures are performed, a potential space is created when the skin and fat is separated from the underlying tissues. To prevent an accumulation of fluid in this potential space, a drain is placed between the skin and the underlying tissue to remove any fluid that would collect and to seal the tissues together. Occasionally, after the drain is removed, the fluid persists. The fluid is usually absorbed by the body, but when it is not, the fluid has to be removed with a needle in the office. On very rare occasions, the fluid accumulation will need to be removed by another procedure.
Scars–Thigh Lift procedures involve incisions. As a result of these incisions, some people make inconspicuous scars while others make more prominent scars. Occasionally, especially in people of color, the scars can be raised and painful; these are known as keloids or hypertrophic scars. There is no way to know if you are one of those people unless you’ve had a past history of this occurring. However, there are several ways to intervene to help prevent and treat prominent scars if they occur.
Unevenness–The goal of thighplasty is to create the body shape you desire. You may not obtain a perfect contour after one procedure. Small, ‘touch-up’ procedures are occasionally needed and an option if necessary. Occasionally, a small ‘touch-up’ with liposuction or additional remove of skin may be needed to even out an area.
Delayed Healing–Patients who smoke or have diabetes have a higher chance of slow wound healing. You should stop smoking six weeks before the procedure and 6 weeks after the procedure. Thigh lifts require an incision completely around the truck, and, seldomly, an area of the incision may separate requiring additional placement of sutures.
Blood clots and pulmonary embolism– During surgery blood clots can form within the veins of the pelvis and legs, causing a condition known as a deep venous thrombosis (DVT). If the blood clot in the vein is unrecognized and not treated, there is the potential for the blood clot to become dislodged and carried into the main blood vessel to the lungs, thus making oxygenation of the blood markedly impaired. This rare complication manifests itself after surgery as shortness of breath or a general sense of illness. If these symptoms occur they should be called immediately to the attention of Dr. Jones. Steps are taken at the time of surgery to prevent blood clots from forming in the first place. The risk of DVT can be reduced by avoiding smoking and by stopping any estrogen containing medicines 2 weeks before the surgery. Compression devices are used on the calves during and after surgery to reduce the formation of blood clots. Occasionally, blood thinners may be used after surgery in patients who are at higher risk for this complication.
Lipoplasty–Lipoplasty, also known as liposuction, can remove stubborn, excess fat, but it does not address the issue of loose skin. When loose skin or cellulite is a significant concern, you want to consider a lift or tuck procedure that removes the excess fat and lax, redundant skin. A lift procedure has a greater capacity to create smoother, tighter skin. Often both lipoplasty and a lift procedure are performed together, or in stages.
Abdominoplasty–An abdominoplasty is appropriate for those patients with excess fat and skin confined to the abdomen. One alternative to a lower body lift is a combination of abdominoplasty and circumferential trunk liposuction.
Change your lifestyle habits — Proper nutrition along with regular exercise should be part of your postoperative plan. However, it’s important to recognize that exercise cannot tighten loose, sagging skin. Exercise tightens the muscles only. Loose skin requires a lift procedure.
Lose Weight–Losing weight will change your body shape, but it does not allow you to contour areas where stubborn fat and exist in excess. Exercise is effective in enhancing weight loss and, hence, fat loss from the abdomen, but exercise will not tighten the skin. Loose, sagging skin or skin with stretch marks has to be removed to achieve firm, tightened skin. Lipoplasty or a lift procedure have the ability to permanently eliminate excess fat at specific locations that are resistant to diet and exercise.
Our goal at Genesis is to make your surgical experience as easy and comfortable for you as possible. You will be asked to stop smoking and avoid certain vitamins and drugs that can cause bleeding, such as aspirin, estrogen, ibuprofen and vitamin E. Additional preoperative instructions and prescriptions to be used postoperatively will be provided. For convenience, we recommend that you have your prescriptions filled several days prior to the procedure. Thigh lifts can be performed as an outpatient, but most of the time they are performed with other procedures, requiring postop monitoring overnight. If your procedures exceed 6 hours, we recommend overnight nurse monitoring.
Dr. Jones will see you the day before the procedure and place ink marks on the skin, making sure your swimsuit or panties cover the incisions. You will be given surgical soap to use the night before the surgery. General anesthesia is used. Antibiotics will be administered at the time of surgery. The procedure takes six to ten hours, depending on your size and other procedures being performed. Lipoplasty and breast surgery are commonly combined with this procedure.
Liposuction (aka lipoplasty) is usually performed in conjunction with a lower body lift and is performed initially. The outer thigh lift starts on the back side and finishes on the front side. The incision on the back side is placed in the midline at the top of the buttock crease and curves gently toward the hip bone where they meet the incisions from the front side. The incisions on the front side are similar to the ones used for abdominoplasty. Buttock and thigh tissues are reduced, reshaped, and lifted. The excess fat and skin are removed. The inner thigh lift (aka medial thighplasty) has both a horizontal and vertical component to the incision. The horizontal component is placed in the groin crease. The vertical component is placed on the inside of the thigh, and it extends from the groin toward the knee. Drains are placed under the skin and the incisions closed with several layers of dissolvable stitches. At the end, a gauze dressing is placed over the incisions. Following surgery, you will be taken to the recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored. Pain medications are administered to keep you comfortable. A pain pump placed is used to deliver continuous local anesthetic medication for 3-4 days. Blood transfusions are rarely needed.
The day after surgery you will be very sore. You will walk cautiously for the first 7-14 days. You will have prescribed pain medication and your need for this will become less and less over two weeks. Start your prescribed medicines and supplements the afternoon or evening after the surgery has been completed. The second day after surgery, you may start ibuprofen 600mg every six hours. You will be seen in the office within the first week to have the drains removed. Repeat visits are routinely scheduled at weeks two and six, six months and one year.
The day after surgery you may take a shower if you wish. Empty and record every 24 hours the amount of fluid removed from each drain . The incisions will be covered with tape strips. These should be left in place until they are removed in the office. Once the drains are remove, which can be anywhere from day 4 to day 14, you will be asked to wear a compression garment 24/7 for the next 4-6 weeks to aid in comfort and to facilitate resolution of the swelling.
You can expect to be sore for several weeks. Heavy lifting and activities that require extensive use of the trunk should be avoided for six weeks. You may start to walk immediately after the procedure and increase this as tolerated. Rigorous aerobics or jogging may be resumed after six weeks. You may resume sexual activity in four to six weeks. You may return to work two weeks after surgery at the earliest. Swelling and bruising will gradually resolve over several weeks. The scars may be red or pink for several months, but should gradually improve. Most swelling resolves in six to twelve weeks, but occasionally swelling can persist for up to six months, and it may take this long to see the final results.
It is not uncommon to have numbness of the overlying skin or intermittent, shooting pains. Both of these gradually resolve completely within a few months.
The results of a thigh lift are dramatic. You have a smaller, more fit, well-proportioned thigh and trunk shape. Your clothes usually don’t fit because they are too big. You feel better about the way you look, and this is reflected in your attitude and behavior. Sexual relationships usually improve as a result of your new self image.
Thighplasty does not stop aging or correct the lifestyle habits that contributed to your preoperative body shape. We strongly recommend you have a lifestyle checkup to determine a nutrition and exercise plan that will lead to a long-lasting result and better health.