Legs (thigh lift)
A thigh lift refers to a variety of operations that are designed to remove excess skin and/ or fat from the thigh is order to improve the contour. The inner thighs are a generally regarded as a difficult area to treat. Although liposuction may occasionally be used, usually it is not recommended for this area, both because of technical reasons and because of disappointing results.
Type of anaesthetic
Length of surgery
Nights in hospital
In crease at inside of upper thigh ± extending down inner thigh
1-4 weeks off work
6 weeks gentle exercise
8 weeks strenuous exercise
1 week (dressing clinic)
2 weeks (dressing clinic)
Like all cosmetic procedures, the degree of satisfaction that patients experience with the results of this procedure is very much dependent on what their expectations were in advance of the procedure. When a patient attends me seeking this surgery, my primary concern is to ensure that they are fully prepared in advance of their surgery in order that they are delighted with their result.
Excess skin and fat are removed from the inner aspect of the thigh, leaving a scar in the crease at the top of the inner thigh. Where a lot of skin is being removed, for example following massive weight loss, it may be necessary to extend the scar along the inner aspect of the thigh, towards the knee. Following the operation, 3-4 weeks of restricted movement are necessary. I usually recommend wearing a compression garment (similar to cycling shorts) for a number of weeks following surgery. For this reason, many patients prefer to undergo this surgery during the colder months of the year.
Consequences and limitations
A thigh lift operation will result in removal of some skin and fat excess, and a reduction in the circumference of the upper leg. The degree of tightening that is achievable from this procedure is limited by factors that affect wound healing, and may not be as much as the patient desires. The scars may take some time to heal, and may become widened or hypertrophic. Seroma (a collection of fluid that may require drainage) or oedema (post-operative swelling that will settle with time) may occur. There is a risk of lymphoedema, and permanent patches of skin numbness may occur. There is a risk of permanent nerve damage, but this is low. As with any procedure performed on both sides of the body, asymmetry may occur. The results of the procedure last well, and while some degree of skin laxity will naturally occur over time, it is highly unlikely that it will recur to the same extent as pre-operatively if the patient maintains a stable weight.