A thigh lift is a surgical procedure to remove excess skin, and perhaps some fat, and pull the remaining skin and tissues up to a normal position. The procedure can slim the thighs and create a more pleasing silhouette. It can be combined with liposuction to the thighs to complete the contouring of the lower body and with other body contouring procedures.
This type of lift was once done relatively rarely. However, the growing popularity and usefulness of weight-loss surgery such as stomach banding or gastric bypass surgery is greatly increasing the number of people who have lost great amounts of weight. These people are often left with sagging skin and subcutaneous tissue on the inner thighs and around the top of the thighs.
The incisions for a thigh lift can be extensive, depending on what kind of thigh lift is done, which means that it can leave some prominent scars. Although your surgeon will place the incision as inconspicuously as possible, scars will be visible when you are naked and may be visible in a bathing suit. The visibility of scars will be determined by how well you heal.
For an inner thigh lift (also called a medial thigh lift), the surgeon makes an incision at the crease between the leg and the pubic area and running down possibly as far as the knee. Excess skin and subcutaneous tissue is removed and sutures will be placed in underlying tissue to help reshape the thigh. Then the incision in the skin is closed.
For an outer thigh lift, the incision will be placed high on the thigh at the hip and curve around the top of the thigh. This incision will sort of follow the line of the leg opening of a high-cut panty. The skin and other tissue is pulled up and excess is removed and the incisions are closed. A lower body lift or circumferential lipectomy will also do the job of lifting and smoothing the outer thigh.
If you are thinking about having a thigh lift, you must be in good overall health. Your weight must be stable. If you are still in the midst of losing a lot of weight, it would be better to wait until you have reached your goal weight or a stable weight. Your body does not heal as well while it is losing weight as it does if your weight is stable.
You must have a realistic idea of what a thigh lift can accomplish and what the scarring will look like later. You may have a scar above the top of your outer thigh or a scar down the inside of your thigh, depending on how much excess skin needs to be removed and where it is. This is not a scar-free procedure. If you are a smoker or are diabetic, you may not heal well and your scars may be more prominent.
A thigh lift may be performed on an out-patient basis, with you going home a few hours after your surgery. However, this depends on your overall health and on how extensive your surgery is. You may be required to stay the night in a hospital.
This surgery can be performed under sedation, where you may be aware of what is going on but not feel any pain, or general anesthesia, where you are asleep.
Before the incisions are closed, the surgeon may insert thin plastic tubes called surgical drains to help prevent a build up of fluids. These lead out of your body to small collection bulbs that must be emptied every few hours. Surgical drains are usually removed 2 to 4 days after surgery, although they may be kept in longer if fluid continues to collect.
Your surgeon will advise you as to when your stitches will need to come out. Sutures may be removed in stages over one or two follow-up visits.
You will need to take 7 to 10 days off from work. Full recovery will take several weeks to months because the incisions must heal completely. In the first days after surgery, you will need to wear a compression garment 24 hours a day. This will help minimize swelling and support the incisions. Try to relax and keep from moving too much during the first days after surgery. You will be uncomfortable. Your surgeon may prescribe pain medication for you.
Most of the results of a thigh lift will be visible immediately. However, the full results may take a few weeks to see because swelling will take some time to resolve.
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