Thighplasty or 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 that slim the lower body such as liposuction. Candidates for thighplasty are in good general health but have excess skin and/or tissue on their thighs as a result of either 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 weight but unhappy with the appearance of their thighs.
There are three types of thighplasty: inner, bilateral and medial. An inner thighplasty targets the lower part of the inner thigh; a medial thighplasty targets the upper part of the inner thigh; and a bilateral thighplasty targets the front and outside of the thigh. Inner and medial thighplasties are usually performed on an outpatient basis, but a bilateral may require a one or two night stay in the hospital. Inner, medial and bilateral thighplasties are performed under general anesthesia and all require an incision where the thigh and pubic area meet. The incision of the medial thighplasty extends over the hip and around to the crease in the buttock; the bilateral incision extends downward and around the back of the thigh. In all cases, skin and/or fat are removed; underlying tissue is reshaped and tightened with support sutures; and the remaining skin is lifted, smoothed and sutured into place at the incision site. Drains may be placed to keep fluid from building up and 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.
Bruising, swelling and soreness are common post-operative expectations 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. Although there are scars, they are hidden in the body’s natural creases and will fade over time.
In addition to the risks associated with surgery and anesthesia, those related to thighplasty include the following: asymmetry, fat necrosis, numbness, loose skin, unattractive scarring, skin loss or discoloration. Revision surgery may be necessary to correct these types of problems.
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.