A thigh lift is a procedure to remove excess skin and fat from the inner aspect of the thighs and is most commonly performed in patients who have lost a large amount of weight but are left with residual heavy, dragging skin at the inner aspect of their thighs. Thin, crepey skin and saggy skin at the inner aspect of your thighs can cause functional problems with walking and embarrassment when trying to find a swimsuit to conceal your thighs.
A vertical thigh lift results in the greatest change in contour as a wedge of skin and fat is removed from the entire length of the thigh and therefore results in a scar that extends from the groin crease to the knee joint. A horizontal thigh lift is a simpler alternative for people with loose skin confined to the upper part of inner thigh. It is generally inadequate for people who have had a massive weight loss. In this operation, a transverse wedge of skin and fat is removed from the groin area. The scar heals within the natural groin crease line. Over time, this scar can migrate with gravity onto the inner thigh skin.
To simulate the result of your thigh lift, you can grab the skin of your thigh with two hands along the inner length of your limb. Thighs are cylinders of skin and fat wrapped around a layer of muscles attached to the femur bone. A cylinder that is reduced in only one of its dimensions as is done in a thigh lift, will not shrink uniformly. The greatest skin tightening effect will be seen at the inner aspect of the thigh. The least effect will be seen at the outer aspect of the thigh. For this reason, a body lift or extended tummy tuck is also recommended to help tighten and lift the skin of the outer thigh area. Patients planning to have both procedures are usually advised to have a body lift first.
Patients with large, heavy thighs often need their thigh lift staged into two procedures. In the first operation, liposuction is used to reduce the overall size of the thighs. A thigh lift operation is then performed at least 3 months later to remove the loose skin achieved by the liposuction.
While you will be able to see an instant improvement in the contour of your thighs, it will take 3 months before your swelling subsides.
Thigh lift surgery is performed under general anaesthetic in an accredited hospital. Before you are anaesthetised, Dr Sanki will draw the expected wedges of skin to be removed on your thighs in order to plan the location of your scar.
The duration of the surgery depends on the amount of skin and fat to be removed. A vertical thigh lift in an average sized woman with a moderately severe degree of skin excess will spend 3-4 hours under general anaesthetic. Before the surgery begins, a urinary catheter will be placed into your bladder and your skin is carefully cleaned with betadine. Dr Sanki will use liposuction to thin the skin of your inner thighs. She will then sequentially remove your loose skin from the knee joint up to your groin crease. The skin is removed and closed in segments to limit the time that your wounds are exposed to air and also to tailor the skin removal. The goal is a tight result that does not compromise wound healing by being too tight.
At the end of the procedure, your wounds will be covered in tissue glue and gently padded before easing your legs into a compression garment.
Recovery From Thigh Lift Surgery
The goals of your recovery in hospital are to streamline your pain relief and assist you in moving. Most patients spend the first evening in bed. You will have a urinary catheter so you do not need to worry about walking to the toilet. On the morning after surgery, the catheter is removed, and a physiotherapist and your nurse will help you to go for a short walk. You are able to go home once you can comfortably walk short distances. This is usually 2 nights after surgery.
Frequently Asked Questions
Thigh lift surgery can be safely performed in healthy adults of all ages.
A thigh lift results in permanent skin and fat removal. A vertical thigh lift is long lasting and will slowly soften with age and gravity. Weight loss or gain will also change the result. A horizontal thigh lift has a shorter lifespan as gravity will have a greater effect on dropping the position of the scar.
Thigh lift surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic in an accredited hospital such as St George Private, East Sydney private or Kareena private hospitals. Most patients are able to go home on the same day of surgery after a horizontal thigh lift. Patients having a vertical thigh lift will be sent home after 2 to 3 nights. The degree of pain experienced largely reflects the amount of skin that needs to be removed.
The scar of a horizontal thigh lift sits in the natural groin crease. The scar of a vertical thigh lift usually sits at the inner aspect of the thigh from the groin to the knee.
The cost of thigh lift surgery is determined by the expected complexity and duration of your operation and will be estimated following your first consultation.
Prices start from
including the surgeon’s fee, assistant’s fee, anaesthetist’s fee, hospital stay, garment and 12 months post-op care.
This procedure may attract an item number from Medicare which allows you to claim a rebate. If you have the appropriate level of health insurance cover, they may pay for your theatre and accomodation fees. The Medicare item number is 30171.
Drains are usually used to help reduce your swelling and collect any excess fluid sitting under your wounds. They are soft silicone tubes that lie under the skin and emerge from the groin skin. They are usually removed on the first day after surgery.
A garment that extends from your waistline to your knees will be purchased on your behalf after you are measured up for the garment at your preoperative consult. A garment helps to support your thighs by reducing their swelling and limiting the movement of your healing wound. Most people get good comfort from their garment for 3-6 weeks after their surgery. Garments can be difficult to remove and put on in the first week of your recovery. Your nurse in hospital will show you how to use the garment. We also recommend purchasing a She-Wee device so you do not have to take off your garment to go to the toilet. It is important to have at least one hour out of your garment in the morning and evening. This allows you to shower and inspect your skin and wounds for any problems. Please let us know if you would like to purchase a second garment to make washing and drying your garment easier.
All three layers of your wounds will be stitched with dissolving sutures which do not need to be removed.
Thighs unfortunately are rarely still and it can take one to two weeks before you are able to move comfortably. Your garment and pain relief of course help with this considerably. A good result is achieved by resecting as much skin as is possible. Your thighs will therefore feel very tight. This tight feeling also subsides after a few weeks.
A vertical thigh lift results in a very prominent, pink scar at the inner aspect of the thigh. Over the first six weeks after surgery, your scar will become more raised and more pink as your body deposits collagen into the wound to give it strength. In the months to years following this, your body will start to degrade that collagen to make the scar paler and flatter. Inner thigh skin is “poor quality” as its dermis, or strength layer, is very thin. This helps to explain why the inner aspect of our thighs are significantly affected by gravity, aging and weight loss. For this same reason, the scars are also prone to become stretched over time. A thigh lift is a great operation for people who do not mind scars on their body or who have no intention of baring the skin of their thighs in public. Otherwise, the scar of a thigh lift simply replaces on awful problem (excess skin) with another awful problem (a thick, unsightly scar).
Liposuction removes only fat from the targeted area and causes secondary contraction of the skin to improve your thigh contour. It is an extremely effective technique in patients who have an isolated trouble spot of fat that does not disappear with diet and exercise. A thigh lift procedure will be more effective in patients with thin skin, stretched skin or those who have lost a large amount of weight and are left with fullness at their inner thigh area.
A thigh lift operation can take anywhere between one to four hours. Thigh lifts that take less than two hours can be often combined with another operation to tighten skin and remove fat from other parts of your body. Thigh lift operations that remove a large amount of skin are best performed alone as the wounds are extensive and make mobilizing difficult when you are trying to recover from another procedure as well.
The most effective technique to remove excess skin from the inner thigh is through surgery. Less invasive techniques such as the use of laser or ultrasound energy can make smaller but less significant improvements to your skin.
You will be seen by your surgeon within 7 days of your surgery.
Regular appointments are made to remove sutures and to check on your healing following surgery.
You will be given a Plastic Surgery Recovery guide upon booking your surgery. This document explains in great detail all of your after care following surgery.