Thighplasty (Thigh Lift)

Thighplasty is a procedure to tighten and improve the overall appearance of thighs. Candidates for this procedure have loss of skin elasticity in the thigh or have thighs with a saggy, dimpled or flabby appearance which improves dramatically if the loose skin is lifted. A thigh lift can reduce sagging in the inner or outer thigh. It is often a procedure performed on patients who have lost a great deal of weight.

Surgical Procedure

Thighplasty takes about two hours and is usually performed under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis. Incisions for this procedure can vary greatly, so a surgeon will consult with the patient to ensure incisions are made in the most effective manner for each particular case. Types of thighplasty include inner thigh lift, bilateral thigh lift and medial thigh lift.

An inner thigh lift focuses on the inner thigh, while a bilateral thigh lift focuses on tightening skin on the front and outside of the leg. The surgeon makes an incision at the top of the leg, about where the lower edge of a bikini bottom or underwear would be. A small amount of skin is removed and then the remaining skin is pulled up, which tightens the skin along both sides of the leg. This procedure is often done after someone has lost a great deal of weight.

A medial thigh lift tightens skin and fat on the upper part of the inner thigh. An incision is made from the groin back to the crease of the buttock. The skin is then lifted and excess fat and skin removed to improve the appearance of the upper, inner thigh.

For a thighplasty, the surgeon will mark the thighs before surgery while the patient is standing. In all types of thighplasty, the incision is sutured shut with deep sutures to ensure that there is no sagging after the incisions heal. The scar from the surgery is hidden in the groin crease, beneath the bikini line. During the procedure, drains are put in place that allow excess fluid to drain after surgery. The drains are usually removed after several days.

If the outer thigh is to be targeted, thighplasty sometimes includes lifting the entire thigh and buttock (circumferential lower body lift). This procedure requires longer incisions than thighplasty, but surgeons at Cedars-Sinai's Center for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery are expert at ensuring the most effective results possible.

If there is an excessive amount of fatty tissue, a liposuction may be performed before a thighplasty. If several months after liposuction a thighplasty is still recommended, it can then be performed.

After Surgery

Recovery time depends on the extent of the procedure, although most patients experience minimal pain that is alleviated with medication. In all cases, patients should rest as much as possible and avoid leg movement. Patients should plan to take seven to 10 days off work to recover. Bruising and swelling are usually gone within a month and patients are able to return to all normal activities within four to six months.