Due to aging or large weight loss, the skin around the thighs becomes loose and inelastic. As a result the skin gives a sagging appearance and looks at odds with rest of the body.
There are also cases when people with heavy thighs are not able to shed pockets of fat by dieting and exercise and resort to liposuction to get rid of the fat. This is followed by thigh lift by which the skin and underlying tissues are pulled, cut and/or tightened making the thighs firm and well shaped.
To be a good candidate for thigh lift, one needs to be in good health without any major disease, is a non-smoker and is near about his or her ideal weight. The candidate should have loose, sagging skin and tissues in the thighs which are difficult to manage and give an aged or unhealthy appearance.
A patient may need inner thigh, or outer thigh or both thigh lifts depending on the spread of the looseness and should consult with one’s surgeon to decide on the extent of the lift required. Outer thigh lift is sometimes combined with the buttock lift to give a better shape to that part of the body.
Surgical procedure – The procedure may be under local anesthesia with IV sedation or general anesthesia which is decided by the surgeon in consultation with the patient.
The incision is made in the groin crease to hide the scar and then taken down and up around to cover the top of the outer thigh, if outer thigh lifts are to be performed.
After the incision the skin is lifted and underlying tissue layer is pulled and tightened using sutures. The skin is then pulled up, the excess skin cut off and the remainder is draped on the tissues and sutured.
The procedure takes about two to four hours depending on the extent of the thigh lifts.
The cost of the thigh lifts depend on the extent of the lifts done and also on the geographical location. The average surgeon fee is around $4500 to $ 5000 and to this the costs of anesthesia, surgical clinic, medication, clinical tests and miscellaneous items such as compression garments, if used, are to be added.
Recovery – The incision area will be under dressings or bandages withsome tubes placed in to drain out blood. The patient will be required to wear compression garments to support the operated area and help healing. He or she will have to take medication to control infection and pain and to follow surgeon’s instructions fully.
There will be tenderness and soreness in the thigh areas for several days. Swelling, bruising and pain along with a feeling of tightness in the skin and tissues are common. The thighs should not be exposed to stress by not being on feet for a few days.
If there is any major complaint such as shortness of breath, chest pain or irregular heart beat during the recovery, the patient must contact the surgeon and seek medical help.
The results become visible to a good extent after the procedure with the appearance of tighter and smoother thigh contours though there will be some initial swelling and bruising. The final outcome will be visible after several months.
The results are nearly permanent though with further aging some loosening of the skin and tissues may occur.
The patients should be able to go back to work after about one or two weeks of the procedure.
Like all other similar surgeries, there are risks to the patient in this procedure also. The surgeon or his staff must explain the risks in detail before the patient is required to sign the consent forms.
Some of the risks and complications of thigh lift procedure are – anesthesia reactions, Infection, bleeding, blood clot, fluid accumulation, poor wound healing, lack of sensation in the operated area, fat necrosis, deep vein thrombosis , cardiac and pulmonary complications, asymmetry between the two thighs, chance of revision surgery.
To minimize risks and complications, the patient should educate oneself about the surgery to the extent possible and ask for the surgeon’s opinion or advice on any issue that bothers him or her. Above all the patient must follow the surgeon’s pre and post surgery advices fully for the procedure to be successful.