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The Science Of Thigh Lift Surgery

Mrs Nothando (Noni) Zinyemba  |  RGN

Last Updated On: February 2, 2024 | Published On: October 27, 2015

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What is a Thigh Lift?

The Thigh Lift is a cosmetic surgery procedure designed to tighten the skin of the thigh and reduce sagging in the inner or outer thighs. The procedure is commonly performed on patients with massive weight loss, but it is also performed on people who have not experienced weight loss. There are two types of thigh lifts:

Inner Thigh Lift (aka medial thigh lift)
Outer Thigh Lift

Patients who have the body lift procedure will have the Outer Thigh Lift performed as part of the procedure. However, the Inner Thigh Lift procedure is commonly performed as a single procedure. Patients who have a Body Lift will often have the Inner Thigh Lift performed as the second step of their total body transformation.

Additionally, the Outer Thigh Lift can be performed with the Tummy Tuck procedure. This combination of Outer Thigh Lift plus Tummy Tuck is called the Extended Tummy Tuck.

What problems does a Thigh lift address?

In summary, these three symptoms are the most common indications for the Thigh Lift procedure:

Poor skin elasticity on inner/outer thighs
Dramatic weight loss resulting in excess skin on thighs
Sagging, hanging skin on inner or outer thighs

If the skin of the inner or outer thigh sags, a thigh lift will eliminate excess skin, and then tighten and firm the skin contour. The procedure creates beautiful, long sculpted legs. Patients who have lost a lot of weight are ideal candidates for a Thigh Lift, as they usually have excess hanging skin.

If your thighs are also very big and have lots of fatty tissue it might be best to do liposuction first to get rid of as much of the excess tissue as possible. After a few months you can re-evaluate the inner thigh to see if you will additionally benefit from a Thigh Lift.

What are the Pre-Operative requirements?

During your consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon it’s important to listen to all of the pre-op instructions your surgeon gives and discuss all of the surgery and outcome concerns you have.

How is a Thigh Lift performed?

It is preferred to perform these procedures under IV anaesthesia instead of General Anaesthesia. Patients have a quicker recovery with IV anaesthesia and much of the nausea associated with General Anaesthesia is eliminated.

Incision locations :

The Inner and Outer thigh lift each have a unique incision location and surgical protocol. Illustrated on the sketch below, they are as follows:


The pubic area is shaved the morning of surgery so that the area is smooth and without hair. Stray hairs can infect the incisions, so shaving the pubic area helps to eliminate the risk of infection. To provide the most sterile and bacteria free environment possible, the surrounding pelvic area is cleansed with betadine. Sterile fields are always used in surgery, but for this procedure they like to widen the sterile zone to include adjacent areas.

Immediately before surgery, while you are still awake and standing, the inner thigh is marked with the incision location. The skin is pinched and elevated towards the groin and an estimate is made for how much skin should be removed. The incision is located in the groin crease.


The Outer thigh lift is done to remove excess skin that hangs below the hip area. The incision for this procedure is located near your hip bone. If you are having a tummy tuck at the same time, the incision simply extends horizontally from the tummy tuck incision.

On the morning of surgery, while you are still awake, the incision location is discussed with you standing in front of the mirror. The surgeon will pinch the area of excess skin and I be careful to place this incision below the panty line. To assist with the surgical markings, they will ask you to bring along a favourite bathing suit to help determine the best incision location.

Incision closure :

For both types of thigh lifts, excess skin and fat are removed. Before they cut the excess skin, the skin is elevated. To reduce complications they perform only a small amount of dissection from the tissue beneath the skin. By not undermining this tissue with dissection, this reduces the risk of fluid accumulation dramatically.

To close the wound,they use dis-solvable sutures and start closing the deeper tissue layers first, using the Lockwood technique of wound closure which sutures the deeper levels tighter than the layers near the surface. This puts the least amount of tension on the top layers of the skin, and reduces many types of wound complications.

What is Post-Op Thigh Lift recovery like?

Thigh Lift recovery time is 3 weeks. It is strongly recommend bed rest for the first 7 days–avoiding all movement to help speed up recovery time;

Week 1: Bed rest, walking only allowed to the bathroom

Day 5-7: First post op office visit to remove compression garment and pads
Week 1-2: Compression garment is worn continuously
Week 2: Walking allowed inside the house
For 2 weeks: No sitting
3 weeks: No driving
At week 2 (mandatory), month 1, and month 4: Have Post-Op follow up visits
Week 6: Resume regular activities

What are the risks and possible complications? The most common complications include:

  • Infection
  • Poor Wound Healing
  • Skin Loss
  • Numbness or changes in skin sensation
  • Wound Separation
  • Sutures that surface through the skin
  • Asymmetry
  • Possibility of secondary procedure to correct the above complications

The most common minor complications with the Thigh Lift are fluid accumulation and wound separation which can lead to seroma and hematoma formation.

To help moderate patient expectations for this procedure, patients should be prepared for the possibility of having a secondary office procedure to fine tune the contour of the thighs. This secondary procedure can usually be performed under local anaesthesia.

Stand in front of a mirror and pinch the skin of your inner thigh so that you lift the skin towards your groin. This approximates what a Thigh Lift Surgery can do for you. The inner Thigh Lift will raise and tighten loose skin on the inside of your thigh. When an inner Thigh Lift is performed, liposuction is not recommended at the same time in this area.

Outer thigh Lift :

To get an idea of what this procedure can do for you, pinch the excess skin at your hip together and see what it does for the profile of your legs! The effect is that it slenderises the look of the legs. If there is excess skin in the posterior butt area, an outer thigh lift is sometimes performed together with a buttock lift.

How much does a Thigh Lift cost?

Typical  costs for an Inner thigh lift ranges from 4000 pounds upwards. Nu cosmetic can provide a free, no obligation consultation on this, and many other procedures by calling 0800 030 2930.

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