A thigh lift is a cosmetic surgical procedure that removes loose redundant skin and excess fat from the medial and/or lateral thighs.
Before & After photographs shown on this site are actual patients of Dr. James Lee who have given their permission to have their photos published online. They are for illustrative purposes only; individual results vary. We do not guarantee outcomes and no prediction of outcome is implied. Individual healing characteristics and unexpected complications can affect the outcome of any surgery.
2. Ideal Candidates
In general, ideal candidates for thigh lift surgery are healthy, non-smoking adults who:
- Have a relatively stable body weight, and
- Have a healthy and active lifestyle (healthy diet and regular exercise), and
- Have realistic expectations with regards to what surgery can accomplish, and
- Are bothered by the fact that they have redundant soft tissue (skin and/or fat) in the inner and/or outer thigh region.
3. The Procedure
- The procedure is performed under general anaesthesia.
- There are a variety of thigh lift techniques, each having a different incision pattern. The area of your thigh to be treated, as well as the degree of correction needed will dictate the technique used to perform your thigh lift procedure. The two principal thigh lift techniques include:
3.2.1. MEDIAL THIGH LIFT
- A medial thigh lift addresses redundant skin and excess fat along the inner thigh.
- An incision is made along the groin crease and can be extended around the back of the thigh if necessary.
- The underlying soft tissue is tightened and a wedge of redundant skin and subcutaneous fat from is removed from the inner thigh.
- The skin and subcutaneous tissue of the inner thigh is then advanced and closed in multiple layers to the skin edge at the original incision site (i.e. within the groin crease).
- The end result is a tighter and smoother inner thigh contour with a well-hidden scar along the groin crease.
- In certain cases, the incision may need to be extended vertically down the inner thigh to remove redundant skin.
3.2.2. LATERAL THIGH LIFT
- A lateral thigh lift addresses redundant skin and fat on the front and lateral surface of the thigh.
- Incision is made at the hip, where the lower edge of your underwear would be.
- The required amount of skin and subcutaneous fat is removed before advancing the remaining skin at the lateral aspect of the thigh and securing it to the skin edge at the original incision site with multiple absorbable sutures.
- The end result is a tighter and smoother contour along the front and lateral aspects of the thigh with a scar that is well concealed beneath your underwear.
4. PREOPERATIVE CONSULTATION
Dr. Lee will perform a thorough medical evaluation during your consultation to ensure that you are medically fit for surgery. He will also revise your medication list, as certain medications may need to be temporarily stopped before your surgery.
After carefully evaluating your thighs and assessing your aesthetic goals, Dr. Lee will review your available options and help you choose a treatment plan that will allow to achieve your desired results.
Since smoking is known to be associated with poor/delayed wound healing, wound dehiscence, wound infections, and increased scarring postoperatively, smokers will be asked to stop smoking 4 weeks prior to surgery, and for at least 2 weeks postoperatively.
Patients will also be scheduled for routine pre-operative blood testing and an electrocardiogram 1-2 weeks before surgery. If necessary, further recommendations will be made once the results of these tests have been reviewed.
4.1. OTHER BODY CONTOURING PROCEDURES
Patients who are also bothered by excess sagging skin in other areas of their body could consider combining their thigh lift with another body contouring procedure (i.e. “tummy tuck” and/or liposuction). Combined procedures offer patients the advantage of treating multiple areas of their body in one operative setting with a shorter overall recovery period.
The operation is performed on an outpatient basis and most patients are permitted to go home a few hours after surgery. Patients who have had more extensive procedures may be required to stay overnight for post-operative monitoring or for optimal pain management.
Dressings will be applied over your incisions when your surgery is complete. A compression garment is usually applied to minimize post-operative swelling and to support the new contour of your thighs during the first 6 weeks of your recovery. One or more thin plastic tubes may be placed under the skin of each thigh to drain excess blood and fluid that might collect during the first few days after your surgery. These drains, as well as any permanent sutures or skin staples, will be removed by a member of our team during one of your follow-up appointments. Some bruising and swelling are expected; however, this usually resolves in about 4-6 weeks. You will be given a prescription for pain medication to help minimize discomfort throughout your recovery.
Before leaving our facilities, you will be given specific instructions which you will be asked to follow in order to ensure a smooth recovery. These include:
- Avoid vigorous activity and get plenty of rest
- Keep your legs elevated when lying down
- Do not remove your dressings
- Try to keep your compression garments on at all times
Patients are encouraged to walk immediately following their surgery. Most patients are able to return to work after 1-2 weeks of convalescence. Regular exercise and activities can be resumed after 4-6 weeks. Although the results of your thigh lift surgery will be immediately apparent, it may take up to 6-12 months for your scars to fully mature, swelling to completely resolve, and achieve your final look.
Most patients are able to return to work or school after about a week of convalescence. For the first 4-6 weeks, patients are asked to avoid excessive standing or lifting anything over 5 pounds. Light exercises are permitted at 2 weeks, while regular exercise and activities can be resumed at 4-6 weeks.
6. RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS
As with any surgery, there are risks associated with a thigh lift procedure. Smoking, diabetes, peripheral artery disease (poor circulation), as well as heart, lung, or liver disease may increase your risk of perioperative and/or post-operative complications.
Risks and complications include:
- Risks associated with anesthesia
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Fluid accumulation (seroma)
- Poor wound healing
- Wound dehiscence
- Fat necrosis
- Skin discoloration and/or swelling
- Skin loss
- Altered skin sensation
- Unfavorable scarring
- Contour irregularities
- Deep sutures may irritate the skin until they are fully resorbed
- Recurrent skin laxity
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Cardiac and pulmonary complications
Dr. Lee will thoroughly discuss these risks (and possibly others) with you and answer any questions you might have prior to obtaining your consent for surgery.
7. Post-operative scarring
Scars form as the body’s natural response heal tissues. As with any scar, the extent of post-surgical scarring depends on a number of modifiable factors (i.e. avoidance of UV light exposure, tension-free wound closure, appropriate wound care, etc.) and non-modifiable factors (i.e. patient age, comorbidities, skin type, genetics, etc.). While it is not possible to perform scar-free surgery, Dr. Lee makes every effort to minimize the appearance of your post-surgical scars through careful pre-operative planning, the use of meticulous surgical technique, and by ensuring appropriate wound care and follow-up post-operatively.
It is not unusual for scars to appear red and be slightly raised/firm for the first 4-6 weeks following surgery. Scars will flatten and become more pale over time, and can take up to 12 months before achieving their final appearance.