While many people are frustrated with stubborn fatty deposits of the thighs, there are more serious aesthetic issues than just extra fat that can occur in the thigh area—and these issues occur more often than most people realize. Problems like lax, hanging skin, poor thigh contour, a disproportionate overall appearance, and stubborn fat that just won’t respond to traditional methods of weight loss (like diet and exercise) can be extremely irritating and embarrassing for people who deal with them. Lax, sagging skin often occurs after massive weight loss or as we age. These factors can cause the skin to lose elasticity, making it unable to retract and tighten as it normally would. Skin that will not retract hangs and drapes, hiding normal contours and muscle tone of the body. For these kinds of problems, surgery is often the only effective solution for improving the appearance of the thighs.
A thigh lift (thighplasty) is a thigh reshaping surgery that can resolve sagging skin, fatty deposits, and improve the overall appearance of the thighs. The surgery can address the inner thighs, outer thighs, or both. While some people seek cosmetic improvement of the thighs with liposuction to remove excess fat, a thigh lift is a different procedure altogether, addressing every aspect of the thigh’s aesthetics—skin, fat, and overall shape.
Thigh Lift Consultation
To learn more about whether or not a thigh lift will give you the results you’re looking for, you will need to schedule a consultation with a member of our talented team of plastic surgeons at our office in Atlanta, Georgia. Our surgeons will walk you through the thigh lift process, and assess your skin laxity, overall thigh contour, and goals for the procedure. You'll get an opportunity to see if you are a good candidate for the procedure, ask as many questions as you need to, and start to plan your procedure with our experts. If you have any concerns about the surgery, your consultation is a good time to address them and get answers.
Thigh Lift Candidates
A thigh lift can dramatically improve the appearance of the thighs, but it is not the right procedure for everyone. Ideal candidates for thigh lift surgery are people at a stable, healthy weight, who have significant excess skin in the thigh area and related poor thigh contour. Though excess fat can be addressed prior to the surgery, patients who desire only fat reduction of the thighs should consider liposuction, as it is specifically designed for the goal of removing areas of stubborn fat, and is much less invasive than thigh lift surgery.
Thigh lift surgery is a major and relatively invasive procedure, so patients should be in good health and willing to cope with the recovery process following surgery. Patients must have realistic results of the surgery in order to achieve a successful outcome. Improvement over perfection is the goal of cosmetic surgery, and thigh lift procedures are no exception.
Thigh Lift Procedure
If excessive unwanted fat is still present in the thigh area and will not resolve on its own, liposuction may be performed as a separate surgery several months before the thigh lift procedure to improve the overall results of the thigh lift. For patients with smaller areas of unwanted fat, these can be addressed during the surgery itself.
Thigh lift surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia for patient safety and comfort. First, incisions are placed in the most discreet areas possible, whether the procedure involves the outer thighs, the inner thighs, or both. The outer thigh lift is often combined with a tummy tuck with the scar located in the lower abdomen. For an inner thigh lift, this incision typically starts at the groin and extends downward, sometimes reaching all the way to the knee. The size of these incisions will depend on the extent of the procedure and the amount of excess skin present. Through these incisions, the surgeon will tighten and remove the excess skin, smooth out any fatty deposits, and contour the thigh for an improved overall appearance.
Thigh Lift Recovery
As with other body contouring procedures, the thigh lift recovery can be quite intensive. Patients will need to wear a compression garment following surgery for several weeks and should plan to take at least two to three weeks off of work, or more for strenuous occupations. While light activities such as gentle walking is encouraged as soon as the patient is comfortable, most patients will not be able to resume more aggressive exercise for at least 4-6 weeks.
Thigh Lift FAQs
What’s the difference between a thigh lift and a lower body lift?
A thigh lift addresses only loose, sagging skin of the thighs, while a lower body lift is a more comprehensive procedure that combines the inner and outer thigh lift procedure with a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) and a buttock lift. This surgery is appropriate for people who have experienced dramatic weight loss, and have extensive loose, sagging skin in these areas.
Can a thigh lift improve my thigh contour without removing tissue?
A thigh lift addresses sagging skin, which must be pulled tight and the excess skin removed, in order for the contour of the thighs to be revealed. Some tissue will need to be removed for satisfactory results, as the skin will not be able to retract once it has been stretched to a certain point.
Which procedures can be combined with a thigh lift?
For many people, loose, sagging skin is not limited to just the thigh area. A thigh lift is often combined with other body contouring procedures to address loose skin in other areas, such as the stomach, buttocks, and arms. Combination procedures are very common and can be performed as long as your plastic surgeon thinks it is safe to do so. Surgeons limit the amount of surgery that can be performed at once to make sure patients aren’t kept under anesthesia too long, and to minimize the chances of complications during surgery and recovery.
How long will I be swollen after a thigh lift?
Swelling is to be expected after any plastic surgery procedure, and a thigh lift can produce quite a lot, depending on the extent of the surgery. Swelling can take quite a while to resolve fully, but the majority of swelling should resolve within a month or so. Residual swelling can take up to six months or more to resolve, but patients will see preliminary results much sooner.
Should I choose liposuction or a thigh lift?
If you are chiefly concerned with unwanted fat in the thigh area, then a procedure such as thigh liposuction, or even non-invasive CoolSculpting® are a better choice than a thigh lift, as they are designed to address excess fat and are gentler treatments than a thigh lift. You should only consider a thigh lift instead if you have significant sagging skin and poor contour of the thighs.
Are there visible scars from a thigh lift surgery?
All surgery produces some scarring, and body contouring procedure such as a thigh lift often produce more scarring than most plastic surgery, due to the large incisions that must be made to remove excess skin. However, our Emory plastic surgeons always do their best to minimize the appearance of scarring, and most patients find that they are willing to deal with scarring (that can typically be hidden by clothing) to enjoy the beautiful results of a thigh lift. Incisions are made in discreet areas when possible, and a more limited thigh lift may only require a shorter incision beginning at the groin, and extending only part way down the thigh so that it can be covered underneath shorts or a skirt. However, more extended procedures often involve a longer incision, and thus, longer thigh lift scars.
Will a thigh lift help with cellulite?
Cellulite is an annoying problem that affects the majority of women, and some men as well. It is a dimpled, “cottage cheese” appearance to the skin, which is caused by fat pressing up against fibrous tissue in the skin. While this problem is not easy to treat, many people confuse true cellulite with loose skin, which can certainly be addressed with a thigh lift.
Are thigh lift results permanent?
Nothing can stop the aging process, and additional skin laxity may occur as patients grow older. Plastic surgery can often slow down this process, but it cannot be stopped altogether.
Can I go home right after my surgery?
Thigh lift surgery, though extensive, is typically an outpatient procedure, with patients being released the same day. However, you will absolutely need someone to come and pick you up, preferably someone who will stay with you for at least a day or two into your thigh lift recovery. You will appreciate having someone on hand, as you will not feel up for much in those first few days following surgery.
How Can We Help You Today?
Need help? We will be delighted to assist you today, so please call us at 404-778-6880. We look forward to hearing from you.