Thigh Lift : Part One – An Overview

A thigh lift is a cosmetic surgical operation that improves, enhances, and shapes the thigh.
The results can be dramatic and wonderful, giving a new and attractive leg shape. A thighplasty is another medical term for this procedure. These educational writings on this topic are divided into three parts. Part One will review and discuss what the operation entails, options, who is a candidate, and how to prepare for the surgery. Part Two will review how it is done, the results, and the recovery. Part Three will discuss risks, expectations, and costs. People might also find the educational writings on body lifts helpful and related. These can be found under body lift in the educational writings. Please click now. Photographs of thigh lift before and after can be found in the body lift section of the photo gallery.

What is a Thigh Lift?

This is a plastic surgery operation that is designed to rejuvenate and improve the thighs or upper legs. The techniques used involve the careful and skillful removal of excess skin and unwanted fat. The goal is thinner, flatter, and more attractive legs. Major improvement can be seen in skin laxity, stretch marks, cellulite, and leg shape. The main aspect of the operation is removal of unwanted and unnecessary skin and fat. This is an operation that also involves liposuction and liposculpturing to improve and address surrounding areas of unwanted fat.

Who is a candidate?

Most candidates for a thigh lift have significant excess and unwanted skin. Patients might have excess skin from weight loss, bariatric or obesity surgery, poor skin elasticity, prior operations, and aging. The development of the loose and hanging skin gives the legs an unattractive and older appearance. Cellulite and stretch marks are other characteristics that are often seen. Loss of elasticity is a hallmark characteristic of a candidate for the cosmetic surgery.


Besides a thighplasty, other options include liposuction, radio-frequency machines, and laser treatments. I will discuss this in detail, but in general, these options are poor choices and are rarely done. Why? Because they don’t work well for loose skin.

Liposuction is often part of the thigh lift operation to give the best results and flattest appearance. However, liposuction by itself, will not work or help patients with significant skin excess. As is true in other parts of the body, liposuction in areas of loose skin tends to make things worse. The skin can get wrinkles and irregular appearances that are not desired. Hanging of the skin can occur if the skin tone is really bad.

Radio-frequency devices, laser treatments, and machines like “Thermage” essentially have no role in these areas. They do not provide any significant rejuvenation. The tightening of skin is practically zero. It is important to understand that these treatments have very limited benefit. A person who decides to try these other treatment options must be prepared to feel like they have completely wasted their money.

Thigh Lift versus Liposuction?

The factors to consider in this choice are the incision and the results desired. The lift will require an incision. This incision turns into the scar. It is this removal of skin that gives the legs the dramatic and significant improvement often desired. A person must understand that the only way to really get rid of the extra skin is to surgically remove it. This means we will have the scar from the procedure. Without the incision to remove the skin, we will not get significant results.

Liposuction is much easier. Liposuction essentially has no incisions. Excess fat is removed with the liposculpturing, but loose skin will still be there. In tight clothing or yoga pants, the skin looseness might be hidden, and a patient may be happy with just the loss of fat. However, if they want the skin gone as well, than the person must have the lift and the scar.

I help patients with this decision. I will help them pick what is best for them. For example, a patient might say that they don’t care about a scar and they just want the flattest legs possible. In this example, the thigh lift will probably deliver the results wanted and make them happy. If the patient is more concerned about looking good in cloths and looking thinner, than liposuction may be the best choice. I specialize in working closely with you as a patient to figure out what is best for you. These concepts are reviewed in detail during your consultation.

The same concept applies to the stomach area for people who want to look better in the abdominal area. Liposuction versus a tummy tuck? Which is better? Understanding the concept for the stomach helps us understand how it applies to the thighs. If liposuction is done in a stomach with loose skin, the results will be a flatter stomach, but the skin can have irregularities and can lead to disappointment in some people. The tummy tuck will remove all loose skin. Results are often dramatic. Most people are extremely happy with a tummy tuck. However, the tummy tuck requires the incision to remove skin. If you don’t have the incision, than you can’t get rid of the extra skin and get the flattest stomach.

How do I prepare?

I provide detailed preoperative instruction sheets. The instructions will be specific and clear. Postoperative instructions are also specifically and fully covered.

All patients will need medical clearance before surgery. Depending on a patient’s health, they may need an EKG and or stress test. These tests tend to be covered by health insurance companies, even though the surgery is not covered. If asked to get these tests, please do so as soon as possible, so delays don’t interrupt your surgery. The office manager will be of assistance with these matters and any questions.

If a patient has had a gastric bypass, additional chemistry tests may be ordered from the laboratory. Please get these done as soon as possible to help for the preparation for your operation. Lab values are often good for 6 months, so they don’t have to be repeated if done in this time range.

Healthy patients do not need special vitamins or supplements. Studies have shown that these supplements are not of value and may actually increase bleeding. Vitamins and supplements should be stopped for two weeks before surgery.

I am a board certified plastic surgeon who practices exclusively cosmetic surgery. Please come in for a complimentary consultation. Details of your cosmetic procedure, costs, and your surgical plan will be discussed completely. I hope this writing helps with your thighplasty cosmetic surgery.