Originally published in Cosmetic Town Journal
One of the most prominent features on a person is their thighs. A shapely set of thighs can help a model stand out from the crowd. A toned set of thighs can help a person stay in fashion by making it easier to fit into a pair of skinny jeans. Unfortunately, not everyone can achieve a good thigh look naturally. Loose skin and other signs of aging can cause a person to opt for surgical help. One of the main surgical choices relating to the thigh area is a thigh lift.
Sometimes men and women develop loose skin on their thighs. It might be loose skin alone or it might be coupled with redundant or unwanted fat. This can occur due to skin changes that happen as patients mature, such as changes from weight loss. The loose skin can affect the contour of the legs. Many people see a plastic surgeon about having their thighs recontoured. A thigh lift allows doctors to tighten the skin and restore the contour or the shape of the thigh.
There's a variety of thigh lifts that can be performed. Everyone's thighs are different so the procedure needs to be tailored to meet the patient's specific needs.
The cresenteric medial thigh lift is for people who have a little bit of skin excess in the medial or inner part of the thighs. In that case, the scar is limited to the groin crease so it's hidden and a person can wear shorts, since the scar is not visible. There's a limit in terms of how much skin and tightening a doctor can do for that approach.
If there's more laxity of the thigh in the medial or inner aspect of the thigh, then a patient has a medial thigh lift. This involves an incision that runs longitudinally from the inner aspect of the thigh and up into the groin. It allows for more tightening and removes a lot more skin. The medial thigh lift is more of a vertical thigh lift.
Both of the above procedures can be combined with liposuction to remove the fat. Thigh lifts are great for tightening skin and liposuction is great for removing unwanted fat. Thigh lifts are contouring so a patient might have liposuction on one portion of the thigh and a thigh lift in another portion of the thigh. There's almost an endless array of combinations because there's almost an endless array of presentations of people's thighs.
If there's laxity or looseness in the lateral aspect of the thigh, a lateral thigh lift can be done through an incision that's on the waistline. The lateral part of the thigh is elevated and then the contour of the hip is enhanced.
There is also a spiral thigh lift. It's like a medial thigh lift that extends up in the groin crease and it helps lift the anterior or the front part of the thigh.
The last type is called a gluteal thigh lift. If there's laxity in the back side of the thigh then an incision in made in the buttock crease. It's made either underneath the buttock or above the buttock to elevate the posterior thigh.
Deciding whether to do one procedure or combine it with another depends on the patient's expectations. It depends on what bothers the patient and how much improvement they want to have.
There's a tremendous amount of information on the internet and there are pictures available. A lot of people come in fairly prepared and exposed to a lot of information. What's difficult is not every picture can be extrapolated to match the patient's particular needs. That's why it's important to go to a plastic surgeon that has a lot of experience doing the various procedures in order to create a customized approach.
Scars are different in every person. Some people heal with fine line scars that heal up spectacularly. Other people have scars that are a bit more noticeable. For a limited thigh lift or a cresenteric thigh lift, it's hidden in the groin crease. For a medial thigh lift, it's just on the inside of the thigh and is fairly well hidden. That scar can be noticeable depending on how low or how long the vertical scar has to be. That is determined by the amount of patient skin laxity.
The cost includes the fees associated with the procedure including anesthesia, the hospital, postoperative care, etc. It can range from $5000 to $8000.
There's not much a patient has to do other than continue to eat a well-balanced diet. It's best to do the procedure on someone who is at their target weight and not actively trying to lose weight. Eat a well-balanced diet so the threshold status is good. Any health concerns can be reviewed during the consultation.
Almost all of these procedures are done on an outpatient basis. Just because it's an outpatient surgery doesn't meant there's no recovery time. Some procedures have a five to seven day recovery and others have a longer recovery time.
Patients typically don't have to wear any special garments. They might have a compression bandage for the first couple of nights. There may be a drain in place depending on the type of thigh lift that's performed. They need to be fairly sedentary for the first week. Walking around the house is okay but not much else. Nothing where the blood pressure becomes elevated or the heart rate goes up. This is important in order to help minimize swelling and maximize healing. Most patients go back to work after a week but they're not allowed full activities after a week. It's usually two weeks before they do any aerobic activities.
The skin can never be pulled so tight that there's not a single wrinkle or any degree of laxity. All skin needs some laxity because that's what allows people to move. The thighs will always look better because they had something done to them. As people mature, skin is going to loosen up a bit because it's part of the aging process. It's uncommon to need second thigh lifts after having it done. A thigh lift is done to erase the loose skin and give a new start with the thighs. After the procedure, it's up to the patient to maintain that with proper diet and exercise.
It's important for people to look at all the information available to them. After reviewing the information, patients should search for a board-certified plastic surgeon that has experience with the procedure. It is vital to feel comfortable because embarking on surgery is like developing any relationship. A patient needs to feel comfortable moving forward with any procedure.