Thigh lift surgery, or thighplasty, is a cosmetic surgery that is performed to resolve issues of sagging excess skin and isolated areas of uneven fat in the thighs. This procedure can be used to improve patient comfort and enhance the aesthetics of the thigh area due to massive weight loss or aging. Dr. Joseph Rucker of the Plastic Surgery Clinic of Eau Claire, WI is proud to offer patients this effective body contouring procedure.
Cosmetic surgery of the thighs is most often performed following major weight loss. During weight gain, extra fat accumulates below the skin, stretching it further. At a certain point, the skin expands beyond the point of natural retraction. After subsequent weight loss, there may be loose skin and fat deposits that remain in the thigh area.
The other reason patients elect to undergo a thigh lift is because they exhibit signs of aging on the upper legs. The loss of skin elasticity, hormones, genetics, and gravity all influence the way the thighs look over time. Through the breakdown of the proteins collagen and elastin, skin begins to wrinkle and sag.
Reasons to Choose a Thigh Lift
Thigh lift surgery may be a cosmetic solution for patients who are unable to lose extra bulk on their legs using traditional methods like diet and exercise. When walking, the thighs tend to rub together and create friction, which can cause discomfort and chafing. Some patients are prohibited from certain physical activity because of this. Hanging skin and fat deposits can cause clothing to fit unnaturally, or make a person appear heavier or less toned than they actually are. Thigh lift surgery removes concentrations of fat from the thighs and flaccid skin, smoothing saddlebags and slimming the inner and outer thighs, creating a more proportionate figure. The procedure can also make walking and wearing certain clothes more comfortable, eliminating chafing and the breakdown of skin in the area.
A thigh lift may be part of lower body lift surgery, especially in extreme weight loss cases. The lower body lift procedure (often combining a thigh lift with a buttock lift) requires more time and has a longer recovery period than an abdominoplasty procedure. Because skin laxity occurs throughout many parts of the body after weight loss, Dr. Rucker may address the patient’s entire figure during a consultation. Female patients often request breast lift surgery alongside other lifting procedures.
How is a Thigh Lift Performed?
There are different techniques that can be used during thigh lift surgery to address a patient’s aesthetic concerns. Each case varies by individual patient anatomy, the amount of extra tissue on the thighs, and the amount of correction desired. During the procedure, the patient will typically be put under general anesthesia. The doctor will create an incision, remove unwanted fat using liposuction, cut away extra skin, and suspend the underlying tissues in a higher position by fixing the tissues to the fascia of the thigh for a lifted appearance. All incisions will then be closed.
Medial Thigh Lift
When patients carry extra weight in their upper thighs, they may be candidates for a medial thigh lift, also called short scar thigh lift or mini thigh lift. The horizontal incision is created in the crevice where the thigh meets the groin. When the procedure is performed this way, it is also referred to as upper thighplasty since the focus is a targeted area of the upper thigh, not the entire upper leg. Because the doctor can only gain access to a limited section of tissue, the procedure is not ideal for all weight loss patients. A medial thigh lift may be best suited for those who have experienced changes to their thighs during the aging process or those whose problem area spans the top third of the thigh and require more basic tissue removal.
Inner Thigh Lift
Patients who undergo this version of the procedure will have a slightly longer incision, with a horizontal line spanning from the line of the groin to the crease of the buttocks, and a vertical line approximately halfway down the thigh. The focus of this type of thighplasty is to address the saddlebags (collections of area fat) and to lift the skin. A section of the inner thigh skin is excised to tighten the skin.
Outer Thigh Lift
The doctor will employ the outer thigh lift method, sometimes referred to as lateral thigh lift, when the patient’s main aesthetic concerns are the outside of the thighs spanning to the front of each upper leg. Two incisions are made in a V-shape along the underwear line and near the hip bone on the front and back of each leg. Fat and excess skin are removed, and the remaining skin is positioned higher and fixed in place.
Special Considerations During the Thigh Lift Procedure
While a thigh lift is performed to contour the upper legs (and during some procedures, the buttocks), the doctor takes care to preserve some of the fat on the hips in female patients to maintain feminine curves. Women tend to like the hourglass look, where their hip size accentuates their waist, making it appear more toned. Thigh lift for men does not require this special consideration because most men do not seek rounded hips, and tend to have a more rectangular-shaped torso.
Liposuction is an essential step in many types of thigh lift. After the tissue is removed from under the skin, there will be increased laxity of the tissue. Generally, once liposuction is performed, some skin will have to be removed.
A thigh lift may be performed with other lifting surgeries, but the doctor may choose to perform upper and lower body lifting procedures together or separately to ensure fewer risks during surgery and a safer recovery. Thigh lift surgery can be combined with buttock lift surgery, where extra skin is removed. This is different from the Brazilian butt lift procedure where the patient’s fat is injected into the buttocks to augment and contour the area.
Candidates for Thigh Lift Surgery
In order to be accepted as a patient for a thigh lift, patients must meet certain requirements to ensure their safety and the best surgical results. Since many patients undergo the procedure following a massive weight loss, thigh lift patients should have reached and maintained their ideal weight prior to the procedure. This also applies to older patients since losing weight may improve or change the look of the thighs, which may then require less correction. Maintaining a stable weight is also important because when patients with skin elasticity issues gain tissue mass, then lose it, they may once again notice loose skin in the thighs. Patients should be prepared to keep extra weight off after surgery, since the results of the procedure may be impacted by significant weight gain.
Patients should be both mentally and physically well enough to undergo this transformative procedure. It is important that candidates have realistic expectations about what the surgery can achieve cosmetically and to also be aware of incision placement and expected scarring.
Candidates who smoke or drink heavily may not qualify for the procedure.
Preparing to Undergo Thigh Lift Procedure
All plastic surgery procedures require some patient preparation, but there may be extra steps to take before undergoing a thigh lift. Patients should stop smoking, drinking, and taking certain medications 2 weeks or more before the surgery. Any requested lab work or testing must be completed before the patient is able to undergo the procedure, so additional doctor’s visits may be required. Dr. Rucker may prescribe medications ahead of time, so patients should fill them and take them as directed.
Patients must maintain general hygiene because skin folds are especially prone to sores, infections, and other issues. The doctor cannot proceed with cosmetic intervention if any area of the skin is compromised. Bathing daily, maintaining a dry environment, and wearing clothing that prevents skin tears are the best tips for the care of the thigh skin prior to surgery.
Thigh lift surgery is commonly performed under general anesthesia, so patients must plan to have a ride home after they have been discharged from care. It is also important for someone to be available to help care for the patient in the first few post-operative days since the doctor will require patients to get up and move around in the following days to avoid surgical complications. General anesthesia may take a day or so to fully wear off, and patients will need assistance draining their surgical tubes and taking the correct amount of prescription medications.
Thigh Lift Recovery
Patients will be able to return home once the surgery is complete. They will receive post-care instructions on how empty their surgical drains, change their dressings, and replace their compression garments. Most patients go home and sleep off the aftereffects of the anesthesia, but should take care not to disrupt the tissues of the thighs. Placing a pillow between the legs and positioning the body comfortably will ensure the incision sites are not stretched.
About 48 hours after the procedure, patients are cleared to shower. Some incisions are in sensitive areas, like the groin, and must be cleansed after the patient uses the bathroom. The surgery sites may be sensitive to the patient walking, but slow movements and the bandages should help control any physical discomfort.
Thigh lift patients must continue to avoid any strenuous activities, including climbing stairs or driving. One week after surgery, the stitches and drains are removed, but the compression garments are typically worn for another three weeks. At the 4-6 week mark, most patients are able to resume their work and exercise routines. A full recovery will take anywhere from six months to a year, and progress is gradual.
Thigh Lift FAQs
Will scars remain visible for life?
While scars, however well concealed by undergarments or a swimsuit, remain a top concern for this type of procedure, Plastic Surgery Clinic of Eau Claire offers an excellent solution. bioCorneum® advanced scar treatment cream from Sientra® contains a patented formula called Silishield™, which is paired with built-in protection of SPF 30 so sun exposure will not complicate the scars’ healing. The Silishield™ technology is FDA-approved, and the sole medical-grade silicone healing system of its kind, with crosslinked silicone for maximum efficacy. By adhering to its use, patients will greatly improve the look of incision sites, which may become undetectable to others.
Where will the surgery take place, and how long will it take?
Thigh lifts are performed in Plastic Surgery Clinic of Eau Claire’s in-office operatory suite located in Eau Claire, WI. The doctor prefers to operate in this surgical setting and has a skilled team of medical professionals to assist him, as well as all the tools to perform the procedure and ensure patient safety. Thigh lift surgery generally takes about 2.5 hours. Dr. Rucker is meticulous in his work, ensuring consistency in both thighs before he sutures the incisions closed.
What are the risks and complications of a thigh lift?
Potential issues that can arise after a cosmetic thigh lift are excessive bleeding, formation of seromas, issues at the incision site like discoloration, and swelling of the area. Any time the skin is compromised, like after an incision is created, infection becomes a risk. Dr. Rucker takes every precaution to prevent issues following treatment and educates his patients on how to have a safe recovery.
Rucker MD Plastic Surgery – Eau Claire, WI Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Joseph Rucker is an acclaimed Wisconsin plastic surgeon who is board-certified by the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. He specializes in both plastic and reconstructive surgeries, and over his 30 years in practice, he has performed over 10,000 procedures. Dr. Rucker’s patients return for his face and body procedures time and again due to his expertise in aesthetics and ability to expertly execute cosmetic corrections.
He owns and operates the Plastic Surgery Clinic of Eau Claire in Eau Claire, and performs procedures at River Falls Medical Clinic. Dr. Rucker also spends time at Enza Medispa in Eau Claire. Prospective patients can reach Dr. Rucker through his online Consult Form, or at his practice, Rucker MD Plastic Surgery – 715.833.2116 or 800.456.8222.