While strong, muscular legs in women are celebrated now more than ever before, large thighs are still a source of frustration for many. The popularity of the ever-elusive “thigh gap” has many women looking for ways to reduce fat and improve the tightness and tone of their legs. The thigh lift (sometimes referred to as "thighplasty") is a surgical procedure designed to remove excessive skin and fat from the thighs.
In some cases, a thigh lift might not be necessary at all - if you have good skin tone and only localized fatty deposits, you may only need liposuction in the thighs (without a lift). However, in many cases, a thigh lift and liposuction are combined to achieve the best results. Dr. Majewski will work with you to develop a treatment plan that will help you achieve your goals.
Although safe and effective, a thigh lift is not a small procedure. Patients should expect a few weeks of downtime and plan ahead to ensure a smooth, restful recovery.
WHO IS A CANDIDATE?
A thigh lift is a good option for patients close to their ideal weight who struggle with excess fat and skin, and/or problematic muscle tissue.
A good candidate for thigh lift meets the following criteria:
In reasonably good health
Has some established weight loss
Has realistic expectations and a positive outlook
Is not a smoker
If you smoke, you will be asked to quit smoking two months prior to treatment as well as during recovery to reduce risk of bleeding. If you do not follow these instructions, your surgery will be cancelled for your safety.
The purpose of your consultation with Dr. Majewski is to evaluate whether you are a candidate for a thigh lift (or a different procedure) and to develop a treatment plan that will help you achieve your goals.
Dr. Majewski will ask you questions about:
Your surgical goals
Medical conditions, drug allergies, and medical treatments
Current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drug use
He will also:
Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
Discuss your surgical options and other non-surgical treatment options (such as CoolSculpting®)
Recommend a course of treatment
Discuss likely outcomes of your thigh lift and any risks or potential complications
The consultation is the time to ask Dr. Majewski any questions you may have regarding the procedure, recovery, and expected results.
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 - or both. Don't be shy about discussing these feelings with Dr. Majewski.
The cost of the thigh lift procedure varies depending on the extent of your surgery, and whether you decide to undergo other procedures at the same time. The cost of your procedure will include anesthesia fees, surgical facility costs, medical tests, post-surgery garments, prescriptions for medications, and the surgeon’s fee.
You might also consider the cost of childcare or other assistance you might need during your recovery period - such as meal delivery, a cleaning service, etc. Although usually not necessary, some patients prefer to delegate some of their household responsibilities during the first few weeks of recovery so they can focus on healing fully.
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
Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding
Medications are administered for your comfort during thigh lift surgery. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Dr. Majewski will recommend the best choice for you.
Incision length and pattern during thigh lift surgery depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed, as well as the best judgment of your plastic surgeon.
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. Dr. Majewski will determine the best option for you.
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.
Deep sutures within underlying tissues help to form and support the newly shaped contours. Your incisions will be closed either with absorbable sutures or stitches that will be removed within one to two weeks following your thigh lift.
Once all excess skin and fat have been removed and the skin has been smoothed over the new contour of your thighs, the incisions are closed and recovery begins.
Immediately following your surgery, dressings or bandages may be applied to your incisions, and your thighs may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimize swelling following surgery.
A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid.
You will be given specific instructions on how to care for the surgical site and drains, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing, specific concerns to look for and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.
Be sure to ask Dr. Majewski 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?
After the surgery, you’ll be asked to wear a compression garment (usually athletic pants with compression) for 2-4 weeks.
Thigh lift recovery typically lasts several weeks. Before scheduling your surgery, think through what time of year makes the most sense for you to undergo this procedure. If you typically get summers off of work, then summer might be a great time for you to recover from your surgery. If your work schedule is less flexible, you might consider getting surgery around a holiday or other break - such as around Thanksgiving, Christmas, or spring break - when you will have family around to help you as you recover.
Weeks 1-2: During the initial recovery phase, you can expect to experience some pain, discomfort, swelling, and bruising. Pain medication will be prescribed to help alleviate any pain and discomfort during your thigh lift recovery. Be sure to drink a lot of water during this time as pain medication can be dehydrating.
You may advised to sit and sleep with elevated legs for the first few days after surgery to reduce swelling. You will also be directed on how to change bandages and keep incisions and surgical drains, if placed, clean.
In the first week after surgery, it’s common to experience some pain in the thigh area. You’ll also see swelling and bruising around the incision sites. In most cases, the pain can be managed with oral pain medicine.
One of the most important things to understand about recovery is that it’s vital to be very cautious when moving, particularly during the first two weeks. Because your incisions are in the thigh area, they’re subject to tension and pulling when you sit, stand up, walk, and bend. This means that it’s often necessary to restrict your activity for the first couple of weeks.
Consult with Dr. Majewski for any guidance regarding activity and when you can expect to resume regular activity.
Weeks 3-4: Many patients begin to feel somewhat recovered as early as 10 days after surgery, though some may require a full two to three weeks to feel “normal” and return to work. By this point, you should be able to manage pain with over-the-counter (non-prescription) pain medications.
During this time, even though you might feel up to it, it's important to avoid strenuous exercise and heavy physical activity. Light walking is recommended to encourage blood circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots, which can occur from prolonged bed rest (see below).
Weeks 5-6: Most patients are fully recovered about six weeks after thigh lift surgery and may resume strenuous activity with doctor approval. By six weeks, swelling and bruising is generally resolved and many patients will see significant improvement in the appearance of their thighs, though it may take up to three months after surgery to see full results. After thigh lift surgery, it's important to follow a healthy diet and resume exercising when approved by your doctor to ensure long lasting results.
MANAGING THE RISK OF BLOOD CLOTS FOLLOWING THIGH LIFT SURGERY
It is very important to keep in mind that some level of activity is needed to reduce the risk of blood clots. While high-impact movement is best avoided, there are a couple of measures that can help reduce clot risk:
Calf exercises, such as muscle flexing and heal-toe movements
Calf exercises can be performed while sitting or lying down and don’t put tension on the thigh area, so they won’t affect the healing of your incision.
Ultimately, though, the best way to prevent blood clots is to get up; get walking, and get moving.
You should see smoother, tighter thighs almost immediately following your procedure, although initial results will be obscured by swelling and bruising. Once this swelling subsides, you’ll be able to enjoy the full results of your surgery.
A thigh lift typically involves larger incisions. With proper scar care, scars will usually fade as much as they ever will, after about one year. It is important to begin scar care as soon as the wound closes to ensure the scars fade as much as possible. This is a trade-off, but most patients feel these are small compared to the large improvement in their self-confidence after surgery.
Dr. Majewski will provide his recommendation for a scar gel that will encourage your scars to heal quickly. As with all scars, keep your scar out of direct sunlight. Always apply sunscreen if your scar will be exposed to sunlight - the SkinMedica Essential Defense Mineral Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 35 formula is specifically formulated for post-procedure sun protection.
ARE RESULTS PERMANENT?
The results of thigh lift surgery will be long-lasting, provided that you maintain a stable weight and general fitness. As your body ages, it is natural to lose some firmness, but most of your improvement should be relatively permanent.