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If you’ve recently lost weight in your thighs, you may be looking for a way to help achieve smoother, more shapely legs. Or perhaps you’re looking for a way to address the skin on your thighs, which tends to sag with age.

For some people, a thigh lift may be a solution for getting rid of excess, sagging skin.

It’s important to know that a thigh lift is a major surgery that can pose a variety of risks, especially if you have underlying health issues or if you’re not at your goal weight.

Considering the invasive nature of the surgery, it’s a good idea to research the procedure before undergoing one. In this article, we review the different types of thigh lift procedures, as well as their potential risks and cost.

A thigh lift (thighplasty) is an invasive cosmetic surgery that removes excess skin and fat from the thigh area.

Perhaps the most common reason for a thigh lift is to help reshape and smooth the thigh area after losing weight. Some people also opt for the procedure to gain more shapeliness and to feel more comfortable wearing swimsuits, shorts, and jeans.

If you’re considering this procedure after weight loss, doctors recommend that you’re at a steady weight for at least 6 months and that you’ve already achieved your goal weight. This is because weight fluctuations can interfere with results post-thigh lift surgery.

Thigh lifts remove excess skin and fat, but there are different types that are achieved via different incisions. Your provider will help you choose the best surgery to meet your individual needs. Below are the different types of thigh lifts to consider.

Inner (medial) thigh lift

A medial thigh lift is the most common form of this cosmetic surgery. It addresses sagging skin in your inner thighs via an incision from your groin down toward your knee or toward the back of your thigh area.

Mini thigh lift

Depending on your individual needs, your surgeon may determine that you qualify for a mini thigh lift. This procedure requires fewer incisions than other types of thigh lifts, only involving an incision in your groin area. It works well if you’re wanting to focus on the upper-inner part of your thigh only.

Outer (bilateral) thigh lift

An outer thigh lift addresses the outside portions of your thighs. The procedure involves an incision that starts in you groin area, then extends outward to your hip and lower back area.

Vertical thigh lift

If you’re looking to address a lot of excess skin in all areas of your thighs, you may consider a vertical thigh lift. It requires larger incisions that extend down to your knees. However, due to a higher risk for complications, your surgeon may not recommend this type of thigh lift.

Lift with liposuction

In some cases, the thigh area may have poor skin elasticity. Your surgeon may recommend liposuction in addition to thigh lift surgery to help remove excess fat cells and prevent sagging skin.

Before thigh lift surgery, you’ll be instructed to stop taking medications that increase bleeding. These include aspirin, certain supplements, and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Your surgeon may also ask for a medical evaluation to ensure you’re a good candidate for surgery.

You’ll be put under general anesthesia during the procedure. Your surgeon will make the appropriate incisions based on the type of thigh lift you’ve chosen. Then, they’ll cut out excess skin and fat cells before inserting sutures to close up your wounds.

On average, the entire procedure takes 2 hours to complete. Since you’ll also spend several hours in both pre-op and post-op, you should expect the entire process to take up most of the day.

It’s a good idea to have someone drive you to and from your operation and to stay with you overnight in case complications arise.

Before you go home from your operation, your surgeon will place dressings against the incisions to help ease swelling. They may also insert a tube to help drain excess blood and fluids from the area. You’ll need to make a follow-up appointment to have your surgeon remove these items.

Like other cosmetic surgeries, thigh lifts are considered major procedures and you’ll need to take time off work to recover.

You’ll likely experience pain, bruising, and swelling for a few days after the procedure. You should notice more contour to your thighs right away, but you won’t see full results for several months.

Any worsening pain or the onset of bleeding through sutures or dressings should be addressed with your doctor right away. You should also see your doctor if you experience:

  • wound separation
  • fever
  • chills
  • numbness

How long before you see results?

In general, you’ll need several weeks to recover from thigh lift surgery, so you should plan your work schedule accordingly. You’ll also need to refrain from any heavy lifting and strenuous exercises for at least 6 weeks after your procedure.

You’ll want to elevate your legs as much as possible during this time, and you may be able to go outside after a few days. It’s normal for the ankles to swell as you gradually move around more.

Once healed, there may be scars from where your surgeon made incisions to remove excess skin around your thighs. However, when done by an experienced surgeon, the scars shouldn’t be very noticeable to others, especially if they’re placed in inconspicuous areas.

Before committing to a thigh lift, you’ll need to determine whether the results you’re looking to achieve are worth the risk of side effects. While serious complications aren’t as common, you should discuss the following risks with your surgeon:

  • bleeding
  • scarring
  • infections
  • skin discoloration
  • asymmetry
  • loss of skin elasticity
  • fluid accumulation
  • deep vein thrombosis
  • heart or lung complications

Your risk for complications may increase if you smoke, get limited physical activity, or consume a diet high in processed foods.

Seek immediate medical help

Seek emergency medical help if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or an abnormal heart rate.

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A thigh lift is considered an aesthetic procedure, which isn’t typically covered by medical insurance. However, many surgeons offer payment plans and financing options, so it’s important to ask your provider for ways you can offset some of the costs.

In 2019, the average cost of a thigh lift procedure was $5,171. This price represents the surgeon’s fee only. You may need to pay for additional costs related to the procedure, including those related to anesthesia, the facility, medications, and more.

The overall cost may also vary depending on where you live, the type of thigh lift you choose, and your surgeon’s overall experience.

It’s important not to settle for an inexperienced surgeon for the sake of saving money. Using a surgeon unfamiliar with the procedure could increase the risk for side effects and unsatisfactory work, which could cost even more in the long run.

Before committing to a thigh lift, it’s important to shop around for a reputable and experienced cosmetic surgeon. Ideally, the right provider will be board certified and specialize in skin removal procedures, such as thigh lifts.

A prospective provider will go over the procedure with you in detail. They’ll also be able to show you a portfolio of their work that includes before and after photos.

At your initial consultation, be sure to ask questions about the surgeon’s specific experience as well as any perceived risks based on your individual health profile. Finding a surgeon with experience in performing a wide variety of thigh lifts is essential to getting the best results possible with minimum side effects.

Consider using this cosmetic surgeon locator to get started on your search for the right provider.

A thigh lift is an invasive cosmetic surgery that’s commonly used to help remove excess skin and fat after losing a lot of weight. To retain your results, you must be at a steady weight for several months before having the procedure.

Due to the complexities of cosmetic surgery, it’s important to choose a provider who has experience with thigh lifts. They can also go over any potential side effects and risks with you before committing to the procedure.

In all, you should expect your recovery to take several weeks. When a thigh lift is done by the right surgeon though, you may find the procedure well worth your time and investment.