For many who have undertaken the monumental journey of significant weight loss, the aftermath—while life-affirming and health-benefiting—can lead to a new set of challenges, particularly concerning body contouring. One area of the lower body that often sees dramatic changes is the thighs. Excess skin can linger, especially in the inner upper thigh, regardless of how diligently one adheres to a fitness routine.

Enter the thigh lift, a cosmetic procedure performed by plastic surgeons designed to improve the lower body and thighs by reducing sagging excess skin, resulting in smoother and better-proportioned contours of the upper legs. If you’re considering this cosmetic surgery, it’s crucial to understand the procedure comprehensively.

In this extensive guide to thigh lift surgery, Dr. Amir Ghaznavi, a dual board plastic surgeon will walk you through everything you need to know to make an informed decision about potentially transforming your lower body and thighs and, by extension, feeling good about being you.

What is a Thigh Lift?

A thigh lift, or thighplasty, is a surgical procedure that involves contouring the thighs by addressing the excess tissue and improve shape. It’s designed to tighten skin and improve the overall appearance of the thigh area.

The thigh lift involves the removal of loose skin from the inner and outer thigh and can be combined with other procedures such a tummy tuck or liposuction for a more complete contouring lower body and abdomen. This results is a more proportionate lower body and more defined contours of the leg.

Pros and Cons of a Thigh Lift

Like any surgical procedure, a thigh lift has its share of benefits and risks. The key pros include:

  • Improved body image: For many patients, the most significant benefit is the psychological boost of having more toned-looking thighs and a smooth contour to the upper leg.
  • Enhanced mobility: The procedure results in the ability to move and exercise more comfortably.
  • Long-lasting results: With proper maintenance, thigh lifts can be relatively enduring.

Conversely, there are cons and considerations to keep in mind after a thigh lift:

  • Scarring: Thigh lifts will leave scars, which, while they fade over time, are permanent.
  • Recovery time: The recovery period from a thigh lift can be lengthy and requires patience due to the location of the incision and the amount of movement of the leg.
  • Potential risks of surgery: This can include infection, bleeding, persistent swelling of the leg (lymphedema) and adverse reactions to anesthesia.

Who Makes a Good Candidate of a Thigh lift?

Ideal candidates for thigh lift surgery are those who have excess skin, fat, or both in the thigh area and whose weight has been relatively stable for a significant length of time. Candidates should also:

  • Be in good overall health
  • Be nonsmokers or willing to cease smoking for a significant duration before and after surgery.
  • Have realistic expectations about what a thigh lift can achieve

A consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon is the best way to determine if you are a good candidate for a thigh lift.

Alternatives to Thigh Lift Surgery

For those who may not be ready to commit an excisional procedure like a thigh lift, or for individuals who have less severe concerns, there are non-invasive and less-invasive alternatives to consider. These may include:

  • Exercise: Strength training to build muscle and cardio to burn fat can help with mild to moderate contouring concerns.
  • Liposuction: A less invasive body procedure that suctions out fat from targeted areas, often complementing other body contouring surgeries.
  • Renuvion: A minimally invasive procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to tighten and tone loose skin on the thighs and can be combined with other contouring surgeries.

Dr. Ghaznavi will discuss all of your options to determine the best course of action for your unique concerns and goals.

Preparing for Thigh Lift Surgery

Preparation for a thigh lift typically includes:

  • Having a comprehensive preoperative evaluation, which may involve lab testing or a medical evaluation.
  • Stopping certain medications, including blood thinners, several weeks before the procedure.
  • Arranging for someone to take you to and from the surgery, as well as to help care for you during the initial stages of recovery.

Dr. Ghaznavi will provide a detailed list of preoperative instructions to ensure thigh lift goes smoothly.

The Surgical Procedure

Thigh lift surgery is performed under general anesthesia. The specifics of your procedure will depend on the type of thigh lift you and Dr. Ghaznavi have decided upon, but generally, the process involves the following steps:

  • Making incisions in strategic places to minimize visible scarring (these can be limited to the groin area, extending down or around to the back of the thigh, depending on the type of thigh lift).
  • Removing excess tissue to create a smoother, more toned leg contour.
  • Redraping the remaining skin for a more youthful, natural-looking appearance.

Dr. Ghaznavi will explain the technique that he will use and what you can expect during the thigh lift in greater detail during your preoperative consultation.

Recovery After Thigh Lift Surgery

Recovery from a thigh lift is a significant aspect of the process and can have a substantial impact on the outcome. You can expect:

  • Immediate recovery: You will be monitored for a few hours after surgery and may have drains placed in the incision sites to remove excess fluids.
  • Initial post-surgical care: You’ll need to wear a compression garment to minimize swelling and support the new contours of your legs. You will also need to rest, avoid strenuous activity and your keep legs elevated when possible.
  • Drain removal: if you had a drain, they will usually be removed within a week after your thigh lift.

The full recovery period can last several weeks, and it may be several months before you see the final results of your thigh lift.

Clothing Considerations During Recovery

Loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that won’t rub against or put pressure on the incision sites of your tight lift is ideal. Dr. Ghaznavi’s customized garments are to be worn for six weeks after your thigh lift.

Drainage Tubes After a Thigh Lift

Drainage tubes are a common post-operative tool used to prevent the buildup of fluid at the surgical site. They are typically removed within the first week after surgery, but the exact timeline will be determined by your recovery. In select candidates, Dr. Ghaznavi does perform, a drainless thigh lift with excellent results.

Liposuction in Conjunction with a Thigh Lift

Liposuction can be performed at the same time as a thigh lift to remove excess fat, further enhancing the contours of the thighs. This combination surgery is often preferred by patients who want the most comprehensive results, but it’s discussed individually with each patient.

Scarring After a Thigh Lift

Scarring is an inevitable aspect of any plastic surgery. For a thigh lift, the scarring is usually extensive, given the length of the incisions. However, plastic surgeons take great care to make incisions in discreet locations and to close them in a way that minimizes scarring. With time and proper care, scars usually fade significantly.

Spiral Thigh Lift vs. Medial Thigh Lift

There are two primary types of thigh lift procedures:

  • Medial thigh lift: This addresses the inner thigh, involves an incision along the groin crease, and may extend downwards towards the knee. It’s suitable for individuals with excess tissue on the upper portion of the thigh.
  • Spiral thigh lift: This more extensive procedure addresses the entire thigh, extending around the back of the leg. It is often recommended for those with concerns about circumferential skin laxity.

The choice between the two will depend on your specific concerns and the recommendations of Dr. Ghaznavi.

When Will You See Results from a Thigh Lift?

You will notice a difference in the appearance of your thighs immediately after your thigh lift. However, it can take several weeks for the initial swelling to subside and several months for the final results to be fully visible. Patience is crucial in waiting for a true reflection of the benefits of your plastic surgery.

Longevity of Thigh Lift Results

The results of a thigh lift can be long-lasting, but they are not permanent. Maintaining a stable weight and a healthy lifestyle will help ensure you enjoy the results of your thigh lift for years to come.

By familiarizing yourself with the nuances of a thigh lift surgery, you are better equipped to have an informed discussion with your surgeon about whether this procedure aligns with your goals for body transformation after weight loss.

Concluding thoughts on a thigh lift

A thigh lift can be a life-changing plastic surgery for individuals who are self-conscious or uncomfortable with the appearance of their thighs.

The decision to undergo any plastic surgery is deeply personal and should be made after careful consideration with a board-certified plastic surgeon. Dr. Amir Ghaznavi performs plastic surgery at AMG Plastic Surgery and specializes in contouring procedures for the chest, truck, and lower body.