The inner or outer thighs can sometimes hang excessively and have a great deal of loose skin and cellulite. This can occur after massive weight loss, such as after bariatric surgery or with ageing or even after poorly performed excessive liposuction. In these cases, liposuction alone will simply make the skin hang more and the thighs look worse. When this occurs thigh lift surgery is a better procedure because the excess skin is removed during thigh lift surgery.
A thigh lift involves different incisions depending on whether the inner or outer thigh is being lifted or both. An inner thigh lift is performed by making an incision in the natural crease that is located at the top part of the thigh near the genital and buttock area. The incisions run along the pubic area next to the labia, underneath and back towards the crease under the buttocks. An incision is made in this crease and then the skin of the upper thigh is undermined, pulled upward and the excess skin is excised. In addition to cutting out the extra skin and pulling upward, almost always liposuction is a part of inner thigh lift surgery. Usually small surgical drain is placed on each side. The drains are usually removed after a week. Inner thigh lift surgery improves the appearance of the inner thigh but it does not improve the appearance of the outer thigh. If a patient desires improvement in the outer thigh area, he or she will need either outer thigh liposuction and/or an outer thigh lift.
Often, the outer thighs can be greatly improved with liposuction surgery alone (see the liposuction section of this website.) However when the outer thigh skin is extremely saggy or there is a lot of cellulite, outer thigh lift surgery may be a better option.
If the outer thigh is being lifted, the incision is located over the hip area. Frequently an outer thigh lift is combined with tummy tuck surgery (abdominoplasty surgery), and the tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) incision is simply extended out over the outer thigh area. The outer thigh lift is performed by first liposuctioning the outer thigh area. After liposuction, a large amount of skin and fat is cut out in an elliptical shape. The two edges are pulled together which lifts the thigh. The incisions are then closed. This effectively thins the thigh, removes extra skin and fat and lifts the thigh. Usually we place a small drain on each side. The recovery after an outer thigh lift is usually quicker than after inner thigh lift.
The main disadvantage of thigh lift surgery is the long incisions. Fortunately, the incisions will usually fade to almost invisible but this may take up to two years. If the patient is only having thigh lift surgery, they may go home the evening of the surgery. Usually a patient may return to work after 2 weeks, but sometimes 3 weeks are needed prior to return to work. No exercise or heavy lifting should be done for at least 6 to 8 weeks after surgery. It is important after thigh lift surgery that the patient walk in order to prevent blood clots.
All the general risks of surgery and anesthesia exist with thigh lift surgery. The most common risk after an inner thigh lift is dehiscence, and can occur as often as 10% to 15% of the time. Dehiscence, means a small separation along the incision line. This most commonly occurs in the crease near the labia in the innermost portion of the thigh. This will usually heal with some minor wound care such as application of antibiotic ointment and washing the area 2 or 3 times a day. However, the healing is slow and it can take as long as a month to heal.
If you have questions regarding whether a thigh lift may be the right procedure for you, please don't hesitate to contact Dr. Lane Smith at 702-838-2455. Dr. Lane Smith is one of the best plastic surgeons in Las Vegas and has performed many of these procedures. An appointment can also be made by filling out the appointment request form on the right side of the page.