Thigh lift surgery also called a thighplasty is a surgical procedure that aims to smooth and reshape the upper thighs by removing loose skin and/or fat. This procedure helps patients achieve firmer and more aesthetically pleasing thighs. It is growing in popularity especially among those who have lost substantial amounts of weight and have loose skin on their thighs that impedes their mobility or they find unattractive.
1 to 3 hours
Day case or 1 to 2 nights
General or Local with Sedation
6 to 12 months
Thigh Lift Surgery will usually cost between £5,500 and £7,000 but the exact price can vary to reflect the personally tailored procedure package.
The surgeon will use their expertise to make certain recommendations which ensure that every procedure is tailored to the specific wants and needs of the patient, who themselves can also make a number of decisions to suit their desired outcome. Some of the variants which may affect the price of the procedure include:
- Surgeon experience
- Anaesthetist experience
- Which hospital or clinic is chosen for the procedure
- The complexity of the individual procedure
- Surgical techniques
- The time required in surgery for each patient’s case
Only after the specific details of the procedure have been worked out can an exact price be determined. However, once a final price has been set, it will be transparent and all-inclusive, there will be no hidden costs or surprises. It will cover:
- Surgeon and anaesthetist costs
- Hospital costs
- Overnight stays (if required)
- Aftercare and follow-up appointments
A thigh lift aims to smoothen and reshape the inner and outer thighs by removing excess skin and fat in these areas. The procedure targets the stubborn fat that healthy eating and exercising is unable to remove. A thigh lift can, therefore, help patients achieve their ideal body goal.
It is important to keep in mind that a thighplasty is not a procedure that can aid weight loss. Surgeons strongly advise that patients reach a stable weight before they have thigh lift surgery.
If the main issue is sagging skin, the surgeon will remove the excess skin and tighten the underlying supportive tissues. If the main issue is a large amount of excess fat, the surgeon may use liposuction alongside the thigh lift to help achieve the results. The choice of whether to use liposuction or not also depends on the level of elasticity of the skin.
Following a large amount of weight loss or with ageing, the skin and soft tissue in the thighs can become flabby. Consequently, this can make some people feel self-conscious and unhappy with their lower body appearance. Thigh lift surgery may be able to address these issues and can:
- Redefine the shape of your thighs to improve your lower body contour
- Reduce the small localised pockets of fat in the thighs creating a smoother appearance
- Improve your self-esteem and confidence
However, thigh lift surgery is not a good option for everyone. It is not a method of weight loss. A healthy diet and exercise should be tried before considering surgery.
Who are the Ideal Candidates for a Thigh Lift?
Following major weight loss, or as a result of ageing, the skin around the inside and outside thigh may sag and become uneven. Many men and women may wish to improve the shape and symmetry of their thighs. Thigh lift surgery may be a potential option for these concerns and can restore the youthful contours of the lower body. Ideal thigh lift candidates include those who:
- Are at a stable weight
- Have excess soft tissue in the outer or inner thighs (which exercise has been unable to remove)
- Have excess cellulite and stubborn fat in the thighs
- Can commit to leading a healthy lifestyle in terms of exercise and diet
- Are non-smokers or are smoke and nicotine-free for at least 6 weeks before surgery
- Have realistic expectations of what thigh lift surgery can achieve
- Have an optimistic outlook and are emotionally ready for surgery.
How is a Thigh Lift Procedure Performed?
The thigh lift procedure usually lasts between 2 to 4 hours and the surgeon will perform the surgery under general anaesthetic. Therefore, patients will often need to stay in the hospital overnight. Before patients come in for the surgery, the surgeon will give you instructions on what to eat, drink and advice regarding any regular medication.
Firstly, patients will meet with the surgeon and anaesthetist before the operation to sign the consent form. This will happen on the day of the surgery or at the preoperative assessment. Once patients have signed this, the surgeon will draw lines on the thighs and will discuss the exact goals of the surgery.
Once in the operating theatre, the anaesthetist will put the patient to sleep. The anaesthetist will likely give a general anaesthetic for the thigh lift surgery.
The surgeon will then clean and put drapes over the treatment area. Incisions for thigh lift surgery are made along the inside or outside of the thigh. The incision may extend from the pubic bone to just above the knee. They will discuss the type of incision that will achieve the best results for the patient's body. The surgeon’s choice will depend on the amount of excess skin, the amount of excess fat, the level of skin laxity and any expectations the patient had for the surgery.
Surgeons commonly use four different incisions. These include:
This technique involves a small incision from where the pubic bone meets the thigh and extends to the crease of the buttock.
This technique is a modification of the medial thigh lift. A small incision will be made running along the crease of the groin. The surgeon will then pull up the excess skin and trim it off. This is an effective technique that creates very minimal and discreet scarring.
This technique involves an incision that runs from the groin crease along the inside of the leg to the knee. Thus as the incision line is very long, it does produce the maximal level of scarring. The surgeon may suggest this if you have a lot of excess skin after weight loss or after liposuction.
Outer/ lateral incision
This technique involves an incision that is made in a V-pattern, along the line of the underwear to the top of the outer thigh. Especially relevant for tightening skin on the front and outside of the thighs.
Closing of incisions
The surgeon will use external stitches to close the skin once the operation is over. Patients will have a tight bandage tied around their thighs. Also, patients may have a small drainage tube left under the skin, this is to help reduce the swelling and bruising. Before patients go home, the surgeon may remove these.
Return to the ward
Finally, once the thigh lift procedure is complete patients will return to the ward. Patients will need to stay for at least one night in the hospital after the surgery. Furthermore, patients are likely to experience bruising for at least two to three weeks after the surgery.
What to Expect During a Thigh Lift Consultation?
The thigh lift consultation will involve meeting with the prospective surgeon. This will generally last around 15 minutes to an hour. In this meeting, patients will discuss the details of the surgery, and all expectations and requirements.
The surgeon will ask a few questions about the patient's general health and well being. They will want to discuss:
- Any current or past medical conditions
- Previous thigh or lower body surgery
- Any previous problems with anaesthetic agents
- Medications, including herbal remedies and vitamins
- Smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs
- Any allergies
- Any other previous surgeries.
The surgeon will also examine and measure the thighs to decide which procedure will work best for the patient. Their decision will be based upon:
- The best surgical approach for the problem areas
- The amount of excess skin and fat
- The laxity of the skin
- The patient's desired results.
They will then take confidential photos of the thighs for the medical records. Finally, the surgeon will talk through the risks and complications of the procedure to ensure the patient can make a fully informed decision. It is important to fully understand the potential risks before consenting to surgery. Therefore, patients should ask any questions they may have regarding this at any point in the consultation.
Questions to ask during a thigh lift consultation
The thigh lift consultation is the perfect opportunity to ask the surgeon questions. Here are some questions that could be useful:
- Do you think my expectations from surgery are realistic?
- Is there anything I need to do to get the best results?
- Where on my thighs will my scars be located?
- Have you performed this operation before?
- Have you got any photos of similar operations you have performed?
- How long will recovery be? Is there anything I can do to help with healing?
Risks & Complications
What are the main thigh lift surgery risks and complications?
All surgical procedures, including a thigh lift, carry some risk of complications occurring. Patients must be aware of these before they can fully consent to the operation. Some of the potential thigh lift risks and complications include:
This is a collection of fluid that may build up under the skin’s surface. This often occurs close to the incision site, usually underneath it. To prevent this from happening, patients may have a small drain left under the skin to remove this fluid. This should be removed before they go home. Some seromas resolve by themselves over time. However, if patients develop a large seroma, the surgeon may need to drain it.
As a thigh lift is a surgical procedure, it will inevitably leave a scar. The surgeon will try and make this as discreet as possible. However, if scarring is a big drawback, patients may choose to opt for a mini thigh lift. This procedure produces a very small scar in the groin.
Bruising & swelling
After the thigh lift, patients will have some bruising and swelling on the thighs. This is normal and may last around two to three weeks. Patients may also find that their feet and calves swell after the procedure. This should also clear within two to three weeks.
There is a risk that patients may develop an infection after surgery. Although in most cases this is a mild wound infection, any sort of infection should be taken seriously. Mild infections should clear with antibiotics. Rarely, more serious infections can occur. It is important that patients tell the surgeon if patients experience any of the following symptoms:
- A temperature over 38°C
- The skin around the incision site becoming increasingly red and tender
- Any yellow or foul-smelling pus coming from the wound
- Increasing pain that pain medication cannot control
If bleeding occurs, it usually happens immediately after surgery. However, it may occur two to three weeks after. If more severe bleeding occurs, patients will be taken back to the operating room where it will be treated.
General surgical complications
General surgical complications may include:
- Reactions to the anesthetic
- Blood clot formation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood loss
Patients should inform the surgeon if they have experienced any of these in the past. It is also important that patients report immediately to a doctor if they experience any of the following symptoms after surgery:
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Unusual heart beats
- Chest pain
- Sore swollen leg, that is warm and difficult to touch
There is a risk that during a thigh lift procedure, some areas of tissue, fat or skin may lose their blood supply. If this occurs, the affected area may die, causing it to feel firm and look uneven. Patients may need surgery to correct this. The risk of necrosis occurring is increased if the patient smokes. Therefore, it is recommended that patients are smoke and nicotine-free for at least 6 weeks before the procedure.
Changes in skin sensation
In a thigh lift, the surgeon removes any excess skin and fat and then tightens the underlying supportive tissue. Because of this re-positioning of the thigh tissue, the nerves that supply the legs and feet may be damaged. Therefore, patients may feel some altered sensation in these areas in the days after the surgery. The altered sensations may include an increase or decrease in sensitivity, or a burning or tingling sensation. This should resolve within a few months of the procedure but may become permanent.
After surgery, the surgeon will close the incisions with either absorbable or non-absorbable sutures. There is a risk that they may become visible, irritable or poke through the skin. If your stitches do become visible or irritable, your surgeon will need to remove them.
There is a small chance patients may be unhappy with the final result of the thigh lift. It is therefore advised that all patients pick their surgeons carefully. Patients must make sure that they are honest and candid about what they would like to achieve from surgery.
How to prepare for a thigh lift?
Before patients have the surgery, there are a few thigh lift preparation tips that are recommended. These will help through the recovery period. It is important to follow the surgeon’s pre and post-op advice as this is specific to each patient. Generalised thigh lift preparation advice includes the following:
After the procedure, patients will not be able to drive for at least 2 to 3 weeks. This is because of the thigh wound and the pain medication taken, both of which can affect judgement and concentration. Patients should, therefore, arrange for someone to pick them up after the operation.
It is advised that all patients have adult supervision for at least 24 hours after the operation. The medications patients take can make them feel dizzy or light-headed, and they, therefore, may need help with some tasks at home.
Sleeping & resting
After the thigh lift, patients may find it more comfortable to sleep propped up on pillows so be sure to make sure there are plenty of spare pillows at home. It may also be more comfortable to rest and sleep on your back in an inclined position.
Patients do not need to stay in bed for the whole of the recovery. It is advised that patients begin gentle walks within the first few days after the procedure. When getting out of bed, patients should slowly swing your legs off the side and once sat upright be sure to give themselves a few minutes to steady themselves. This is to prevent patients from becoming light-headed when they stand. In the first few days, patients should make any movements slowly and make sure they get plenty of rest. Having a good balance between reduced activity and rest will speed up recovery.
Household items & chores
It is important that patients do not strain the stitches in the thighs. Patients must not lift any heavy items. Before going in for the procedure patients may like to clean the house, do the washing and take the bins out. This will be a great help for getting home and settling in. Furthermore, to prevent straining the stitches patients may wish to take food products and crockery out of the cupboards and place them on the work surface. This will make them easy to reach.
Shopping & food
Patients will be unable to lift heavy shopping bags in the first few weeks after the thigh lift. Doing a big food shop may be a good idea prior to the surgery date. It may even be helpful to cook some meals to put in the freezer.
Children & pets
It may be useful to ask family or friends to look after any young children or pets after the operation. This will help patients get the necessary rest needed for a speedy recovery.
To speed up healing time after the thigh lift procedure, patients should try and eat high-protein, low-sodium foods. Eat a healthy diet that contains lots of fruits and vegetables. Drink lots of water and caffeine-free drinks. Try to avoid foods that are high in salt and sugar.
After the procedure, patients will need to wear loose comfortable clothing, particularly baggy trousers. It may be a good idea to purchase this before and bring them to the hospital. Patients may also need to wear a compression garment around the thighs after the operation the surgeon will tell the patient how long they need to wear this for.
What to expect after a thigh lift?
During the initial consultation with the surgeon, they will give advice regarding the thigh lift aftercare. It is important that patients follow this advice as it will help speed up the recovery process. Some general advice includes the following:
Patients will need to spend one or two nights in hospital after their thigh lift. Before patients leave, they will be given a date for a follow-up appointment with the surgeon. This will usually be around two weeks after the procedure. During this appointment the surgeon will remove any stitches, they will look at how the thighs are healing and they will discuss any complications. Furthermore, after the procedure, if they have not done already, the surgeon will give their specific thigh lift aftercare instructions that should cover:
- Returning back to work
- Recommencing sport and exercise
- Returning to driving
- Specific care for your scars
Each surgeon will give different time frames regarding each of these. Therefore, it is vital that you listen to what the surgeon advises.
Below there are some general time frames which give an idea of what to expect:
Time off work
After the thigh lift, patients will need to take some time off work. How long you take off depends on the type of job. For desk jobs with very little strenuous activity, patients might need to take 1 to 3 weeks off to give themselves time to recover. For more active jobs such as hospitality or manual labour, patients will need around 3 to 4 weeks off. Regardless of the job, all patients should refrain from lifting heavy items for the first few weeks after surgery. The daily routine can resume after around 1 week as long as this does not involve anything strenuous.
Return to sports and exercise
After the thigh lift, patients will need to take a break from sports and exercise to allow their body to recover. However, patients should try and mobilise within the first few days after surgery. This is because being bed-bound increases the risk of blood clots in the legs and will delay recovery time.
How long patients need depends on the activity, but the general guidelines are as follows:
Weeks 1 to 4:
During the first 4 weeks, patients can only do very minimal activity and nothing too strenuous. This is because aerobic exercise can increase the swelling of the thighs. Patients should not be lifting weights heavier than 2.2kg for at least 3 weeks after the procedure. If patients find some movements are causing discomfort on the thighs, patients should try to avoid these. Furthermore, patients should refrain from sexual activity for 2 weeks after surgery.
Weeks 4 to 6:
After 4 weeks pass, patients can start partaking in sports that do not involve rigorous movements, such as cycling.
After 6 Weeks:
6 weeks after the thigh lift, patients can resume all forms of exercise and sport. This is an important part of the thigh lift aftercare. If patients find that they are experiencing discomfort in the thighs when exercising, they should take a break from rigorous exercise for a week. A good balance between exercise and rest is the best combination for a speedy recovery.
The surgeon may ask patients to wear a compression garment after the thigh lift. They will tell patients exactly how long they must wear this garment for and how tight they must wear it (if it is adjustable). The purpose of the compression garment is to help reduce swelling and bruising after the operation. It is very important that patients follow your surgeon’s instructions on how to wear the garment as this will help achieve the best results possible.
It is important for patients to follow your surgeon’s advice on how to take care of scars. There are a number of techniques the surgeon may recommend that can aid in the healing of the scars. These include:
- Massaging the scar – patients should wait until the scar fully heals before trying this.
- Applying silicone sheets, gels or creams on the scar – doing this after the scar fully heals and for 6 months after surgery can help reduce the appearance of the scar.
- Keep the scars out of the sun – try to avoid exposing the scars to the sun for at least 6 months. If patients do expose them, make sure to apply high-factor sun cream. This is to prevent large colour differences on the thighs.
It may take a bit of time to see the final result of the surgery. Patients should expect to see some bruising and swelling of the thighs for at least 2 weeks after the procedure. After 6 to 8 weeks, the thighs should heal to the extent that patients can see the full permanent results of the thigh lift. However, it may take up to a year for everything to completely settle. This is because scars take time to fully heal and become light and soft to touch. Patients can help preserve the effects of your thigh lift by maintaining a stable weight through regular exercise and eating a healthy diet.
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All of the information found on our website is sourced from highly reputable experts, government-approved authorities and is widely used by healthcare professionals.
- https://www.americanboardcosmeticsurgery.org/procedure-learning-center/body-procedures/skin-removal-after-weight-loss/ American Board of Cosmetic Surgery
- https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/thigh-lift American Society of Cosmetic Surgeons
Our content is written by our Medical Quality Managers and Patient Care Advisers, all of who have medical backgrounds and training. Prior to publishing, all the information is reviewed by a surgeon specialised within the relevant field.
Find out more about thigh lift surgery
Thigh lift surgery is popular with patients who have excess skin and stubborn fat due to ageing or weight loss