Learn everything about your treatment
Learn everything about your treatment
1.5 to 4 hours
Day case or 1 to 2 nights
General anaesthetic or local anaesthetic with sedation
6 - 9 months
Thigh lift overview
What is a thigh lift?
A thigh lift procedure is a very popular cosmetic surgery that can smoothen and reshape the skin on the outer and inner thighs. The medical term for a thigh lift is a “thighplasty”. The procedure can help men and women achieve firmer and more aesthetically pleasing contours of the thighs and lower body. This thigh lift overview is a good starting point for learning all about the procedure.
What can a thigh lift achieve?
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 you achieve your ideal body goal.
It is important to keep in mind that a thighplasty is not a procedure that can aid weight loss. Our surgeons strongly advise that you reach a stable weight before you have your surgery.
You may choose to opt for a surgical thigh lift if you are looking to:
- Reduce the amount of excess skin after significant weight loss
- Remove sagging skin which is a result of aging or genetics
- Remove the stubborn pockets of fat and cellulite in the thighs
- Create a more proportionate contour of the lower body
- Increase firmness and youthfulness thighs.
If the main issue is sagging skin, your surgeon will remove the excess skin and tighten the underlying supportive tissues. If the main issue is a large amount of excess fat, your surgeon may use liposuction alongside the thigh lift to help achieve the result you desire. The choice of whether to use liposuction or not also depends on the level of elasticity of your skin.
Who are BAAPS & BAPRAS?
BAAPS (The British Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgeons) and BAPRAS (The British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons) are the leading societies for plastic and reconstructive surgeons in the UK. It is important to ensure that you choose a BAAPS or BAPRAS surgeon to perform your surgery so that you are in the safest hands possible.
Thigh lift candidates
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.
Why have a thigh lift?
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.
It is important that when you meet with your BAAPS/BAPRAS approved Medbelle surgeon, you tell them your desired outcomes. You and your surgeon can then come up with the best treatment plan suitable for you.
Thigh lift procedure
How is a thigh lift procedure performed?
The thigh lift procedure usually lasts between 2 to 4 hours and your surgeon will perform the surgery under general anaesthetic. Therefore, you will often need to stay in hospital over night. Before you come in for the surgery, your surgeon will give you instructions on what to eat, drink and advice regarding your regular medication.
1. Consent form
Firstly, you will meet with your surgeon and anaesthetist before the operation to sign the consent form. This will happen on the day of the surgery or at your preoperative assessment. Once you have signed this, your surgeon will draw lines on your thighs and you can discuss the exact goals of the surgery.
Once in the operating theatre, your anaesthetist will put you to sleep. Your anaesthetist will give you a general anaesthetic for your thigh lift.
Your surgeon will then clean and put drapes over the treatment area you spoke about.
Incisions for thigh lift surgery are made along the inside or outside of the thigh. The incision may extend from the pubic bone to the just above the knee. Your BAAPS/BAPRAS approved Medbelle surgeon will make sure that these are as discreet as possible.
They will discuss with you the type of incision that will achieve the best results for your body. Your surgeon’s choice will depend on the amount of excess skin, the amount of excess fat, the level of skin laxity and your expectations from 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. Your 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. Your 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 your thighs.
4. Closing of incisions
Your surgeon will use external stitches to close the skin once the operation is over. You will have a tight bandage tied around your thighs. Also, you may have a small drainage tube left in under your skin, this is to help reduce the swelling and bruising.Before you go home, your surgeon will remove these.
5. Return to the ward
Finally, once the thigh lift procedure is complete you will return to the ward. You will need to stay for at least one night in hospital after the surgery. Furthermore, you are likely to experience bruising for at least two to three weeks after the surgery.
Thigh lift consultation
What should I expect during my thigh lift consultation?
Your thigh lift consultation will involve meeting with your BAAPS/BAPRAS approved Medbelle surgeon. This will generally last around 15 minutes to an hour. In this meeting you will discuss the details of the surgery, and your expectations and requirements.
Your surgeon will ask you a few questions about your general health and well being. They will want to discuss:
- Any current or past medical conditions
- Previous thigh or lower body surgery
- If you have had problems with anesthetic agents in the past
- What medications you are currently taking, including herbal remedies and vitamins
- If you currently smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs
- If you have any allergies to medications
- Any other previous surgeries.
Your surgeon will also examine and measure your thighs to decide which procedure will work best for you and your body. Their decision will be based upon:
- The best surgical approach for the problem you express
- The amount of excess skin and fat you have
- The laxity of your skin
- Your desired results.
They will then take confidential photos of your thighs for your medical records.
Finally, your surgeon will talk you through the risks and complications of the procedure to ensure you can make a fully informed decision. It is important to fully understand the potential risks before consenting to surgery. Therefore, you should ask any questions you may have regarding this at any point in the consultation.
Questions to ask during your thigh lift consultation
The thigh lift consultation is the perfect opportunity to ask your surgeon questions. As well as asking your own questions, you may think about asking your surgeon the following:
- 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?
Here at Medbelle, our surgeons want you to achieve the best results. Therefore, you should be honest and open with them about your expectations for the procedure.
Thigh lift risks & complications
What are the main thigh lift risks and complications?
All surgical procedures, including a thigh lift, carry some risk of complications occuring. You must be aware of these before you 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 happening, you may have a small drain left under the skin to remove this fluid. This should be removed before you go home.
Some seromas resolve by themselves over time. However, if you develop a large seroma, your surgeon may need to drain it.
As a thigh lift is a surgical procedure, it will inevitably leave a scar. Your surgeon will try and make this as discreet as possible. However, if scarring is a big issue for you, you may choose to opt for a mini thigh lift. This procedure produces a very small scar in the groin.
Bruising & swelling
After your thigh lift, you will have some bruising and swelling on the thighs. This is normal and may last around two to three weeks. You may also find that your feet and calves swell after the procedure. This should also clear within two to three weeks.
There is a risk that you may develop an infection after your 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 you tell your surgeon if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- A temperature over 38°C
- The skin around your incision site becoming increasingly red and tender
- If you have any yellow or foul-smelling pus coming from your wound
- Increasing pain that your 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, you 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
You should inform your surgeon if you have experienced any of these in the past. It is also important that you report immediately to a doctor if you 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. You will need surgery to correct this. The risk of necrosis occurring is increased if you smoke. Therefore, we recommend that you are smoke and nicotine free for at least 6 weeks before the procedure.
Changes in skin sensation
In a thigh lift, your 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 your legs and feet may be damaged. Therefore, you may feel some altered sensation in these areas in the days after your 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, your 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 you may be unhappy with the final result of your thigh lift. We, therefore, advise that all patients pick their surgeons carefully. You must make sure that you are honest and candid about what you would like to achieve from surgery.
Your BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon will aim to reduce the likelihood of these thigh lift risks and complications occurring. It is also essential that you follow the pre- and post-operative advice given to help lower the risk of any of these complications occurring.
Thigh lift preparation
How should you prepare for a thigh lift?
Before you have your surgery, there are a few thigh lift preparation tips that we recommend. These will help you through your recovery. It is important to follow your surgeon’s pre and post-op advice as this is specific to you. Our generalized thigh lift preparation advice includes the following:
After your procedure, you will not be able to drive for at least 2 to 3 weeks. This is because of the thigh wound and the pain medication you will be taking, which can affect your judgment and concentration. You must, therefore, arrange for someone to pick you up after your operation. If you are having difficulty with this, Medbelle can help arrange transport for you!
We advise that you have adult supervision for at least 24 hours after your operation. The medications you take can make you feel dizzy or light-headed, and you may, therefore, need help with some tasks at home.
Sleeping & resting
After your thigh lift, you may find it more comfortable to sleep propped up on pillows. Therefore make sure you have plenty of spare pillows at home. It may also be more comfortable to rest and sleep on your back in an inclined position.
You do not need to stay in bed for the whole of your recovery. We advise that you begin gentle walks within the first few days after your procedure. When getting out of bed, you should slowly swing your legs off the side and once you’ve sat up give yourself a few minutes. This is to prevent you from becoming light-headed when you stand. In the first few days, you should make any movements slowly and make sure you get plenty of rest. Having a good balance between reduced activity and rest will speed up your recovery.
Household items & chores
It is important that you do not strain the stitches in your thighs. You must not lift any heavy items. Before you go in for your procedure you may, therefore, wish to clean the house, do the laundry and take the bins out. This will be a great help for when you get home and need to rest!
Furthermore, to prevent straining the stitches you 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
You will be unable to lift heavy shopping bags in the first few weeks after your thigh lift. You might, therefore, wish to do a food shop before your surgery day. It may even be helpful to cook some meals to put in the freezer, then you don’t need to worry about cooking either!
Children & pets
It may be useful to ask family or friends to look after any young children or pets after your operation. This will help you get the rest you need for a speedy recovery.
To speed up healing time after your thigh lift procedure, you 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.
We also recommend that you refrain from alcohol for at least 48 hours after surgery. This is because alcohol can interact with the medicines you are given to take home.
After your procedure, you 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 with you. You may also need to wear a compression garment around the thighs after your operation. Your surgeon will tell you how long you need to wear this for.
- Avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, taking recreational drugs, having a high BMI and smoking. All of these things increase the risk of complications. You should stop smoking at least 6 weeks before the procedure. Smoking delays the time it takes for your body to heal and increases the risk of infection.
- You should tell your surgeon if you take any herbal remedies that are available over the counter. This is because they can interact with some of the medications you are given by your surgeon and affect your healing time. These may include St John’s Wort, Aspirin, and multivitamin preparations. If you are concerned about any of the remedies you are taking that are not on this list, let your surgeon know at your first consultation.
- Homeopathic medicines can increase the risk of bleeding and bruising, and you must, therefore, stop taking them at least 2 weeks before your surgery.
It is essential you follow the advice given for your thigh lift preparation, as it will ensure you are healthy enough for surgery.
Thigh lift aftercare
What can I expect after a thigh lift?
During your initial consultation with your surgeon, they will give you advice regarding your thigh lift aftercare. It is important that you follow this advice as it will help speed up the recovery process. Some general advice we suggest include the following:
You will need to spend one or two nights in hospital after your thigh lift. Before you leave, you will be given a date for a follow-up appointment with your surgeon. This will usually be around two weeks after the procedure. During this appointment your surgeon will remove your stitches, they will look at how your thighs are healing and they will discuss treat any complications.
Furthermore, after your procedure, if they have not done already, your surgeon will give you 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 your surgeon advises you.
Below you can find some general time frames so you have an idea of what to expect.
Time off work
After your thigh lift, you will need to take some time off work. How long you take off depends on the type of job you have.
For desk jobs with very little strenuous activity, you might need to take 1 to 3 weeks off to give yourself time to recover. For more active jobs such as a waitressing or manual labour, you will need around 3 to 4 weeks off. Regardless of your job, you should refrain from lifting heavy items for the first few weeks after surgery.
Daily routine can resume after around 1 week as long as this does not involve anything strenuous.
Return to sports and exercise
After your thigh lift, you will need to take a break from sports and exercise to allow your body to recover. However, you 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 you need depends on the activity, but the general guidelines are as follows:
Weeks 1 to 4:
During the first 4 weeks, you can only do very minimal activity and nothing too strenuous. This is because aerobic exercise can increase the swelling of your thighs. You should not be lifting weights heavier than 5 pounds for at least 3 weeks after the procedure. If you find some movements are causing discomfort on your thighs, you should try to avoid these. Furthermore, you should refrain from sexual activity for 2 weeks after surgery.
Weeks 4 to 6:
After 4 weeks pass, you can start partaking in sports that do not involve rigorous movements, such as cycling.
After 6 weeks:
6 weeks after your thigh lift, you can resume all forms of exercise and sport.
This is an important part of your thigh lift aftercare. If you find that you are experiencing discomfort in your thighs when exercising, you 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.
Your surgeon will ask you to wear a compression garment after your thigh lift. They will tell you exactly how long you must wear this garment for and how tight you must wear it (if it is adjustable). The purpose of the compression garment is to help reduce swelling and bruising after your operation. It is very important that you follow your surgeon’s instructions on how to wear the garment as this will help you achieve the best results possible.
After your thigh lift procedure, you will be unable to drive yourself back home. Therefore, we recommend you organise transport to help you get home. You will also need supervision for the first 24 hours, as you may still be experiencing the side effects from anaesthesia and painkillers. Furthermore, you will be unable to drive for between 5 days and 2 weeks, this is to allow your thighs to heal properly. You may also find that the small vibrations from being in the car can cause pain on your thighs. As a result, you may not be able to do long journeys initially.
It is important for you to follow your surgeon’s advice on how to take care of your scars. There are a number of techniques your surgeon may recommend that can aid in the healing of your scars. These include:
- Massaging your scar – you should wait until your scar fully heals before trying this.
- Applying silicone sheets, gels or creams on your scar – doing this after your scar fully heals and for 6 months after surgery can help reduce the appearance of the scar.
- Keep your scars out of the sun – try to avoid exposing your scars to the sun for at least 6 months. If you do expose them, make sure to apply a high-factor sunscreen. This is to prevent large colour differences on the thighs.
It may take a bit of time to see the final result of your surgery. You should expect to see some bruising and swelling of the thighs for at least 2 weeks after the procedure. After 6 to 8 weeks your thighs should heal to the extent that you can see the full permanent results of your thigh lift. However, it may take up to a year for everything to completely settle. This is because your scars take time to fully heal and become light and soft to touch. You can help preserve the effects of your thigh lift by maintaining a stable weight through regular exercise and eating a healthy diet.
Remember that it is highly important that you follow your BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon’s specific thigh lift aftercare advice.
Thigh lift FAQs
It is important that you get answers to all the questions you have about treatment before you move forward with surgery. This thigh lift FAQs page runs through some common questions that patients have.
What effect will drugs, alcohol, and smoking have on my thigh lift?
You should be aware that drinking large amounts of alcohol, smoking and using recreational drugs can all increase the risk of complications. The reason we require that you do not smoke for 6 weeks before your procedure is to reduce these risks. Smoking can delay the time it takes your wounds to heal. Not only does this delay your recovery, but it also makes it more likely for you to develop an infection.
Do I need a GP referral for my thigh lift?
No. Your surgeon does not need a GP referral from you if you want to have a thigh lift. Your surgeon will only contact your GP to get a full record of your medical history.
Would I need to have drains put in after my thigh lift?
Once your thigh lift surgery is complete, your surgeon may put in some small tubes under the skin of your thighs. These tubes act as drains and they collect and remove any excess fluid or blood. They may be left in for 1 to 2 days. Your surgeon will give you specific advice regarding these drains.
What effect will weight gain or weight loss have on my thigh lift?
Any major weight gain or weight loss will affect the results of your surgery. You must, therefore, be at a stable weight before you have a thigh lift. It is also important to maintain a healthy diet and do regular exercise after the treatment so that you can maintain the results.
If there are any questions you have that do not appear in this thigh lift faqs page, give one of our patient care advisers a call and they would be happy to help. Your Medbelle BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon can also answer any questions you have during your consultation.