Thighplasty (thigh lift) is performed to tighten the skin of the thighs, with the goal being to produce slim, contoured thighs that look proportionate to the rest of the body. Thighplasty may be performed alone, or in combination with other cosmetic procedures, such as liposuction, that slim the lower body. Candidates for thighplasty are in good general health, but have excess skin and/or tissue on their thighs as a result of aging, pregnancy or significant weight loss.
Thighplasty is not considered a procedure for losing weight; it is performed only on those who are close to their ideal weight but unhappy with the appearance of their thighs.
THE THIGHPLASTY PROCEDURE
There are three types of thighplasty: inner, bilateral and medial. An inner thighplasty targets the lower part of the inner thigh; a medial thighplasty targets the upper part of the inner thigh; and a bilateral thighplasty targets the front and outside of the thigh.
Inner and medial thighplasties are usually performed on an outpatient basis, but a bilateral one may require a one- or two-night stay in the hospital. Performed under general anesthesia, inner, medial and bilateral thighplasties all require an incision where the thigh and pubic area meet. The medial thighplasty's incision then extends over the hip and around to the crease in the buttock; the bilateral's extends downward and around the back of the thigh. In all cases, skin and/or fat is removed; underlying tissue is reshaped and tightened with support sutures; and the remaining skin is lifted and smoothed, and sutured into place at the incision site. Drains may be placed to keep fluid from building up; if so, they are removed after a few days. Surgery typically takes 2 to 3 hours. Postsurgery, a compression garment is worn to minimize swelling and promote healing.
RECOVERY FROM THIGHPLASTY
Bruising, swelling and soreness are common after thighplasty; pain medication and anti-inflammatories are typically prescribed. Bruising and swelling are usually gone within a month. Patients can return to work within 7 to 10 days, and resuming most physical activity is permissible at 4 to 6 weeks. Although there are scars, they are hidden in the body's natural creases, and will fade over time.
RISKS OF THIGHPLASTY
In addition to the risks associated with surgery and anesthesia, those related to thighplasty include the following:
- Fat necrosis
- Skin loss or discoloration
- Loose skin
- Unattractive scarring
Revision surgery may be necessary to correct these types of problems.
RESULTS OF THIGHPLASTY
The smoother, tighter contours provided by thighplasty are apparent almost immediately, although in many cases they are significantly obscured by swelling. Thighplasty's results are long-lasting, as long as patients do not gain significant amounts of weight.