Thighplasty (thigh lift) is performed to tighten the skin of the thighs, with the goal being to produce slim, contoured thighs that look proportionate to the rest of the body. Thighplasty may be performed alone, or in combination with other cosmetic procedures, such as liposuction, that slim the lower body. Candidates for thighplasty are in good general health, but have excess skin and/or tissue on their thighs as a result of aging, pregnancy or significant weight loss.
Thighplasty is not considered a procedure for losing weight; it is performed only on those who are close to their ideal weights but unhappy with the appearance of their thighs.
The Thighplasty Procedure
Thighplasty can be tailored to the specific patient need. Simple liposuction can improve many thighs but excess skin means a necessary incision. Massive weight loss patients with severe skin laxity will need long incisions perhaps all the way down to the knee. Smaller areas of skin excess can have shorter incisions sometimes hidden by bathing suits.
The smaller thighplasties can be performed as an outpatient while the procedures requiring long incisions may require a day or two in the hospital. The procedures are often combined with tummy tucks and body lifts. In all cases, skin and/or fat is removed; underlying tissue is reshaped and tightened with support sutures; and the remaining skin is lifted and smoothed, and sutured into place at the incision site. Drains may be placed to keep fluid from building up; if so, they are removed after a few days. Surgery typically takes 2 to 3 hours. Postsurgery, a compression garment is worn to minimize swelling and promote healing.
Recovery from Thighplasty
Bruising, swelling and soreness are common after thighplasty; pain medication and anti-inflammatories are typically prescribed. Bruising and swelling are usually gone within a month. Patients can return to work within 7 to 10 days, and resuming most physical activity is permissible at 4 to 6 weeks.
Risks of Thighplasty
In addition to the risks associated with surgery and anesthesia, those related to thighplasty include the following:
- Fat necrosis
- Skin loss or discoloration
- Loose skin
- Unattractive scarring
Revision surgery may be necessary to correct these types of problems.
Results of Thighplasty
The smoother, tighter contours provided by thighplasty are apparent almost immediately, although in many cases they are significantly obscured by swelling. Thighplasty's results are long-lasting, as long as patients do not gain significant amounts of weight.