What is thigh lift surgery?
Thigh lift surgery reshapes the thighs by reducing excess skin and fat, resulting in smoother skin and better-proportioned contours of the thighs and lower body.
If fitness and weight control 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 thigh lift surgery can'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 thigh lift along with liposuction may be recommended.
Who is a good candidate for thigh lift surgery?
In general, candidates for a thigh lift are:
- People whose weight is relatively stable
- Individuals with excess soft tissue along the inner (medial) thigh region and/or the outer (lateral) 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
How much does a thigh lift cost?
The average cost of thigh lift surgery is $5,317, according to 2018 statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This average cost is only part of the total price – it does not include anesthesia, operating room facilities or other related expenses. Please consult with your plastic surgeon's office to determine your final fee.
A surgeon's fee for thigh lift surgery will be based on his or her experience, the type of procedure used and the geographic office location.
Most health insurance plans do not cover thigh lift surgery or its complications, but many plastic surgeons offer patient financing plans, so be sure to ask.
Thigh lift costs 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 in your area 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.
What should I expect during a consultation for thigh lift surgery?
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 plastic 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 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.
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.
What questions should I ask my plastic surgeon about thigh lift surgery?
Use this checklist as a guide during your thigh lift 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?
What are the risks of thigh lift surgery?
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.
Your plastic surgeon and/or staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications.
Possible thigh lift surgery risks include:
- Anesthesia risks
- Poor wound healing
- Fluid accumulation (seroma)
- Major wound separation
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Fatty tissue under 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 revisionary 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.
How should I prepare 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 or other medications that may 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.
What are the steps of a thigh lift procedure?
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.
Inner thigh lift incision
One technique used for a thigh lift places incisions in the groin, extending downward and wrapping around the back of the thigh.
Another technique removes excess skin from the groin down to the knee using an incision along the inseam.
You may also qualify for a minimal incision inner thigh lift that involves an incision only in the groin area. Your plastic surgeon will determine what's appropriate.
Outer thigh lift incision
Improving the contours of the outer thigh may require an incision extending from the groin around the hip and across the back.
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.
Step 3 – Closing the incisions
Deep sutures within underlying tissues help to form and support the newly shaped contours. Sutures, skin adhesive tapes or clips may be used to close the skin incisions.
Step 4 – See the results
The smoother tighter contouring that results from a thigh lift is apparent almost immediately, although initially obscured by swelling and bruising. Get more information about thigh lift results.
What should I expect during my thigh lift recovery?
During your recovery from thigh lift surgery, dressings/bandages may be applied to your incisions following the procedure.
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(s)
- Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing
- Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health
- 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 heartbeats, 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.
What results should I expect after thigh lift surgery?
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 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 remain.
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.
What words should I know about thigh lift surgery?
Medications that are inhaled and/or given by injection into a vein used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
Blood pooling beneath the skin.
Sedatives administered by injection into a vein to help you relax.
Also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, this procedure vacuums out fat from beneath the skin's surface to reduce fullness.
A medication 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/lateral thigh lift
A surgical procedure to correct sagging of the outer thigh.
Stitches used by surgeons to hold skin and tissue together.
How do I choose a plastic surgeon for thigh lift surgery?
Thigh lift surgery involves many choices. The first and most important is selecting a board-certified plastic surgeon you can trust who is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
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.