Thigh lifts are often a very effective procedure to help tighten the loose skin in the thighs and buttocks area often seen after massive weight loss. The procedure does not change the texture of the skin but helps to pull the skin up making it more taught and thereby helping to make the crepiness and wrinkles less noticeable. The procedure is usually done on an outpatient basis and the incisions are often designed in a way that they can be disguised with a bathing suit. The procedure is also often done together with liposuction to help contour the thighs at the same time, but this will be determined by your surgeon at the time of the consult.
What is a thigh lift?
Thigh lift surgery reshapes the thighs by reducing excess skin, and in some cases fat, resulting in smoother skin and better-proportioned contours of the thighs and lower body.
If fitness and weight loss efforts have not achieved your goals for a body that is firmer, more youthful-looking and more proportionate to your overall body image, a surgical lift may be right for you.
What a thigh lift won’t do
Thigh lifts are not intended strictly for the removal of excess fat. Liposuction alone can remove excess fat deposits where skin has good elasticity and is able to naturally conform to new body contours.
In cases where skin elasticity is poor, a combination of liposuction and thigh lift techniques may be recommended.
Thigh lift surgery cost
The average cost of thigh lift surgery is $4,653, according to 2014 statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Thigh lift surgery costs can vary widely. The average fee referenced above does not include anesthesia, operating room facilities or other related expenses.
Your cost will be based on your individual plan and procedure.
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A surgeon’s fee will be based on his or her experience, the type of procedure used, and the geographic office location.
Most health insurance does not cover thigh lift surgery or its complications, but many plastic surgeons offer patient financing plans, so be sure to ask.
Thigh lift cost may include:
- Anesthesia fees
- Hospital or surgical facility costs
- Medical tests
- Post-surgery garments
- Prescriptions for medication
- Surgeon’s fee
When choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon for a thigh lift, remember that the surgeon’s experience and your comfort with him or her are just as important as the final cost of the surgery.
Thigh lift candidates
In general, candidates for a thigh lift are:
- People whose weight is relatively stable
- Individuals with excess soft tissue along the inner or medial thigh region and/or the outer thigh
- Healthy individuals who do not have medical conditions that impair healing or increase risk of surgery
- Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic goals for what thigh lift surgery can accomplish
- Individuals committed to leading a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition and fitness
Thigh lift recovery
During your recovery from thigh lift surgery, dressing or bandages may be applied to your incisions, and you may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimize swelling and to support your new contours as you heal.
Small, thin tubes may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain excess fluid or blood that may collect.
You will be given specific instructions that may include how to care for the surgical site and drains, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.
Be sure to ask your thigh lift surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period:
- Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
- What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
- Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery? When will they be removed?
- Are stitches removed? When?
- When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
- When do I return for follow-up care?
Thigh lift recovery at home
If you experience any shortness of breath, chest pains, or unusual heart beats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment.
Following your physician’s instructions is key to the success of your surgery.
It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.
Thigh lift before and after results
The results of a thigh lift are visible almost immediately. However, it may take several months for the final results to fully develop.
Following a thigh lift, skin quality is dramatically improved both in appearance and feel.
Some visible scars will remain, but the overall results are long lasting, provided that you maintain a stable weight and general fitness.
As your body ages, it is natural to lose some firmness. However, most of your initial improvement should be relatively permanent.
Although good results are expected from your procedure, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
Thigh lift procedural steps
A thigh lift procedure includes the following steps:
Step 1 – Anesthesia
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedures. The options include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best option for you.
Step 2 – The incision
Incision patterns vary based on the area or areas to be treated, degree of correction and patient and surgeon preference.
One common technique used for a thigh lift places incisions in the groin, extending downward and wrapping around the back of the thigh.
The underlying tissue matrix will be reshaped and tightened, and skin will be reduced and re-draped resulting in more proportionate and smoother body contours.
You may qualify for a minimal incision medial thigh lift that involves an incision only in the groin area. Your surgeon will determine what’s appropriate.
Medial thigh lift incision
Improving the contours of the outer thigh may require an incision extending from the groin around the hip.
Advanced techniques usually allow incisions to be placed in strategic locations where they can be hidden by most types of clothing and swimsuits. However, incisions may be extensive.
Outer thigh lift incision
Step 3 – Closing the incisions
Deep support sutures within underlying tissues help to form the newly shaped contours. Sutures close the skin incisions.
Step 4 – See the results
The smoother tighter contouring that result from a thigh lift are apparent almost immediately, although initially obscured by swelling and bruising. Get more information about thigh lift surgery results. (see tab titled “Thigh lift before and after results”).
Thigh lift surgery risks and safety information
The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal, and you’ll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications of thigh lift surgery are acceptable.
You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications.
Thigh lift surgery risks include:
- Anesthesia risks
- Poor wound healing
- Bleeding Infection
- Fluid accumulation
- Major wound separation
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
- Persistent pain
- Skin discoloration and/or swelling
- Skin loss
- Sutures may spontaneously surface through the skin, become visible or produce irritation that require removal
- Unfavorable scarring
- Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
- Recurrent looseness of skin
- Possibility of revisional surgery
These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It’s important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.
Your thigh lift surgery consultation
During your thigh lift surgery consultation be prepared to discuss:
- Your surgical goals
- Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
- Current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drug use
- Previous surgeries
Your thigh lift surgeon will also:
- Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
- Examine and measure your body, including detailed measurements
- Take photographs for your medical records
- Discuss your options
- Recommend a course of treatment
- Discuss likely outcomes of thigh lift surgery and any risks or potential complications
The success and safety of your procedure depends very much on your complete candidness during your consultation.
Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon questions. To help, we have prepared a checklist of questions to ask your thigh lift surgeon that you can take with you to your consultation (see tab titled “Questions to ask your Thigh Lift Surgeon”).
It’s very important to understand all aspects of your thigh lift procedure. It’s natural to feel some anxiety, whether it’s excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don’t be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.
Preparing for thigh lift surgery
In preparing for thigh lift surgery, you may be asked to:
- Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
- Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
- Stop smoking
- Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding
Thigh lift surgery may be performed in an accredited office-based surgical facility, licensed ambulatory surgical center, or a hospital.
If your thigh lift is performed on an outpatient basis, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.
Thigh lift words to know
- General anesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
- Hematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin.
- Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection into a vein to help you relax.
- Liposuction: Also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, this procedure vacuums out fat from beneath the skin’s surface to reduce fullness.
- Local anesthesia: A drug injected directly to the site of an incision during an operation to relieve pain.
- Medial thigh lift: A surgical procedure to correct sagging of the inner thigh.
- Outer thigh lift: A surgical procedure to correct sagging of the outer and mid-thigh.
- Sutures: Stitches used by surgeons to hold skin and tissue together.
Questions to ask your thigh lift surgeon
Use this checklist as a guide during your thigh lift surgery consultation:
- Are you certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
- Were you trained specifically in the field of plastic surgery?
- How many years of plastic surgery training have you had?
- Do you have hospital privileges to perform this procedure? If so, at which hospitals?
- Is the office-based surgical facility accredited by a nationally- or state-recognized accrediting agency, or is it state-licensed or Medicare-certified?
- Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
- What will be expected of me to get the best results?
- Where and how will you perform my procedure?
- What surgical technique is recommended for me?
- How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
- What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
- How are complications handled?
- How can I expect my thighs to look over time?
- What are my options if I am dissatisfied with the cosmetic outcome of my thigh lift?
- Do you have before-and-after photos I can look at for this procedure and what results are reasonable for me?
Choose a thigh lift surgeon you can trust
Thigh lift surgery involves many choices. The first and most important is selecting a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) surgeon you can trust.
- ASPS member surgeons meet rigorous standards:
- Board certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery® (ABPS) or in Canada by The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada®
- Complete at least six years of surgical training following medical school with a minimum of three years of plastic surgery residency training
- Pass comprehensive oral and written exams
- Graduate from an accredited medical school
- Complete continuing medical education, including patient safety, each year
- Perform surgery in accredited, state-licensed, or Medicare-certified surgical facilities
Do not be confused by other official sounding boards and certifications.
The ABPS is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), which has approved medical specialty boards since 1934. There is no ABMS recognized certifying board with “cosmetic surgery” in its name.
By choosing a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, you can be assured that you are choosing a qualified, highly trained plastic surgeon who is board-certified by the ABPS or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
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