Thigh lift

In a thigh lift, excess skin and fat is removed on the inner thighs and the skin is tightened. The aging process may cause the loosening of skin and wrinkling on the thighs, which is often perceived as a nuisance and may restrict the choice of clothing. Loose skin on the thighs may also occur after heavy fluctuations in weight or weight loss. In extreme cases, a patient may be bothered by loose skin folds and fat deposits on the inner thighs, restricting the ability to walk normally. Further, tightening may be useful when the skin has been stretched on the thighs by excess fat deposits. A thigh lift improves leg contour and the fit of clothing, thus also facilitating the choice of clothes.


Considerations

When to consider a thigh lift:

  • You suffer from skin folds or fat deposits on the thighs that affect your body contour.
  • After weight fluctuations or after losing a substantial amount of weight, there remain unattractive fat deposits and loose skin with skin folds and stretch marks on the thighs.
  • Excess and loose skin or fat deposits on the inner thighs affect your ability to walk (e.g. inner thighs rub together when you walk.)
  • Your well-being and self-esteem are negatively affected by the changes on the thighs.
  • You are willing to undergo surgery that will leave a long scar in order to achieve a better contour and firmer skin on the thighs.

A thigh lift involves the removal of excess local skin and fat deposits on the thighs, which cannot be eliminated by other means. It is possible to perform the operation at any age, as long as there are no serious underlying medical conditions, which might increase the risk of surgery. A prerequisite for a thigh lift is a stable body weight, as strong weight fluctuations may affect the surgical result. Planned weight loss or pregnancy should be considered before a thigh lift. Severe obesity may be a contraindication to a thigh lift, or increase the risk of surgery and significantly affect the expected result.

Consultation

A prerequisite to a successful operation is careful planning. This starts with a personal consultation at the AARE KLINIK.

  • Communication of wishes and expectations ascertain what you would like to improve.
  • Explanation of the possibilities, scope and limitations of the operation.

Examination:

  • Medical history is taken.
  • The legs are examined and digital photos are taken.
  • While in a standing position, the strength and elasticity of the thigh skin is examined and the amount of excess skin and the thickness of the adipose tissue are determined.
  • From the results of the physical examination and image analysis, the recommendation of an appropriate treatment process is derived.
  • Individual factors and personal wishes help in jointly deciding the choice of the appropriate surgical technique, the position of incisions and the resulting scars.
  • Based on this, an individual treatment plan is drawn up and goals of the operation are discussed and defined.
  • Coupled with a thigh lift, you may also opt for additional liposuction.
  • All risks and possible complications of surgery will be discussed with you and documented on a planning sheet.

To plan the operation and to make a risk assessment we require:

  • Full medical history (pre-existing conditions and previous surgery).
  • Current diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, etc.).
  • Allergies or aversion to medications.
  • Any important medical reports (please bring any important medical information).
  • If you are intending to lose a significant amount of weight or to get pregnant, this should be considered when planning a thigh lift.
  • It may be advisable to wait for the stabilisation of your weight or after pregnancy before surgery is undertaken.

Procedure

Individual factors and personal preferences determine the choice of the surgical procedure to improve thigh contour. In patients without excess skin and for those who only have a moderate amount of excess fatty tissue, liposuction alone is sufficient. Otherwise, depending on the degree and the localisation of excess skin, there are several ways to tighten the skin. Surplus skin and fat can either be removed and the thigh thigtened in a horizontal direction at the upper inner thigh, or skin and fat removal and thightening can be performed in both horizontal and vertical directions at the inner aspect of the entire thigh. The former results in a transverse scar across the groin, while in the latter there is an additional vertical scar on the inner thigh that may reach up to the mid-thigh or knee depending on the extent of tightening. The exact position of the scar varies between individuals and depends on the preferred style of clothing and personal preferences. Here, the advantages of a better leg contour against the disadvantages of a long scar must be counter balanced in each individual case. While transverse scars can be well concealed, vertical scars might be exposed when wearing short dresses or shorts. Stretch marks after pregnancy or massive weight loss can be removed or optically enhanced with the skin tightening, but cannot always be completely removed. The pros and cons of the various options will be discussed as part of the consultation session.

A thigh lift is usually performed under general aesthesia as an outpatient procedure at the AARE KLINIK or as part of a short hospital stay. The surgery usually takes 3-4 hours. Drains are inserted at the end of the operation, to remove blood and wound fluid during the first few days after surgery and will be removed after a few days.

Risks

Thigh lifts are common cosmetic surgeries. Complications, such as infection, healing problems or circulatory disorders of the skin are rare when surgery is conducted with the proper procedures. However, in individual cases a prolonged treatment or another operation may be required. Every patient should be informed of all the benefits, risks and possible complications involved.

Minor complications and side effects that usually resolve spontaneously include: bruising (hematoma), wound fluid accumulation (seroma) and swelling. Severe hematoma or seroma may require surgical evacuation to prevent further complications, such as delayed healing and infection. Some numbness of the thigh skin is common after a thigh lift, but is usually temporary and improves with time.

The risk of severe complications such as circulatory disorders of the thigh skin and wound healing problems along the suture lines is increased in smokers or patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes. Combined interventions also increase the risk of complications.

General risks

  • Haematoma (bruising), bleeding and swelling
  • Seroma (accumulation of wound fluid)
  • Healing problems or infection
  • Wound breakdown/dehiscence (separation of wound edges)
  • Injury of nerves or vessels
  • Numbness in area of operation (temporary or permanent)
  • Circulatory problem in the thigh skin (skin slough)
  • Slight asymmetry
  • Unsatisfactory aesthetic result
  • Secondary surgery
  • Thrombosis or embolism

Overall thigh lifts are safe procedures when undertaken by an experienced plastic surgeon and patients are mostly satisfied with the results. You can help to minimise the risks by following the advice of your surgeon.

Preparation

Our aim is to make the time before and after your surgery as comfortable as possible. By following a few recommendations you can support our care:

  • To aid the healing process, avoid smoking for two weeks before and after the operation.
  • Avoid medications that increase the risk of bleeding, like aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as vitamins and homeopathic remedies for two weeks prior to the operation.
  • Thigh lifts are mostly performed as an outpatient procedure under general anaesthesia. Make sure that you can be collected and cared for by someone for 24 hours after the procedure.
  • In some cases (e.g. vertical thigh tightening or extensive liposuction in combination with a horizontal thigh tightening) it may be recommended to stay overnight as an inpatient in hospital.

Day of surgery

In most cases, thigh lift surgery is performed under general anaesthesia as an outpatient procedure or with an over-night stay at the AARE KLINIK. In individual cases, when necessary, the procedure can be undertaken in an affiliated private hospital.

  • During surgery you will receive various medications for your wellbeing.
  • For your safety, your heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen supply etc. are monitored during the operation.
  • After the operation, drains are usually inserted to prevent the accumulation of blood and serous fluid in the wound.
  • The wound is dressed and a compression bandage is applied to protect the wound and to reduce the swelling.
  • You will be taken to the recovery room, where you will have continued monitoring until you awaken and are able to get up.
  • You will be allowed to return home after a few hours.
  • If you are an inpatient, you will remain in hospital under surveillance until the following day.
  • Already on the day of the surgery you should get up regularly for a few minutes in order to minimise the risk of thrombosis.
  • The level of pain after a thigh lift is usually not severe and can be compared with muscle soreness.
  • You are advised to take mild pain relief that reduces swelling and should be continued for several days after surgery.
  • In case of an ambulatory procedure, you should have someone to care for you continuously for 24 hours postoperative.
  • We also provide the option of an over-night inpatient stay at the AARE KLINIK in a single room with a personal nurse care, if needed.

After surgery

  • t is important to realise that recovery from an operation varies for every individual.
  • You should rest in the first days after a thigh lift.
  • You should avoid strongly bending your hip and knee joints for several weeks after.
  • You should get up regularly from the first day after surgery and walk short distances to avoid the risk of thrombosis.
  • You should avoid sitting for prolonged periods for the first few days.
  • Only take the prescribed painkillers and avoid any medication that contains aspirin or other blood-thinning substances.
  • You should sleep on the back for several days with slightly bent hips and a pillow under the legs.
  • Wear the compression garments continuously day and night.
  • In the first 2–5 days after the procedure, a feeling of tension and light pain might occur in the region of surgery.
  • Therefore, you may take prescribed painkillers.
  • Thigh skin may feel temporarily numb and hypersensitive. This is usually temporary. However, it may take weeks or months, in some cases even longer to return to feeling completely normal.
  • Slight swelling and bruising in the area of surgery usually subsides within 2–3 weeks.
  • Typically you will be back on your feet a couple of days after surgery and be able to resume your daily activities.
  • Drains are removed in the first days after the operation, after which you can take showers again.
  • Full baths and excessive heat (e.g. sauna), however should be avoided for several weeks until swelling has receded.
  • Most sutures will dissolve by themselves and do not need to be removed.
  • Non-dissolvable sutures are removed after one week.
  • After removal of the sutures, we recommend the start of an intensive skin and scar care with rehydrating creams and light massage.
  • In individual cases it may be useful to have special treatment with silicone gel or silicone pads over a period of 2–3 months.
  • The fresh scars should be protected from UV radiation for at least six months, in order to prevent increased pigmentation.
  • Activities that require prolonged sitting can usually be resumed after 2–3 weeks.
  • Compression bandages should be worn for a total of 4–6 weeks.
  • Physically demanding activities and sport should be avoided for several weeks.
  • After surgery you will be examined at the AARE KLINIK at regular intervals, so that the healing process can be assessed until the final result is achieved.

Outcome

  • Swelling and bruising may remain for some time after surgery.
  • The healing process is gradual and it takes several months before the final result can be conclusively determined.
  • Scars might be red or appear darker pigmented for several months, but this colour will fade with time.
  • Nevertheless, scars are be permanent, even if they can be seen only as delicate lines.
  • Horizontal scars from thigh lifts are easy to conceal under clothing. Vertical scars, however, may be visible when wearing shorts or skirts.
  • Swollen (hypertrophic) scars may require treatment with special silicone pads and cortisone injections.
  • A thigh lift improves the thigh shape and improves the leg contour.
  • After a thigh lift, women often feel more self-confident and find it easier to wear certain clothes.
  • The result of a thigh lift is usually long lasting. However, gravity, the aging process, weight fluctuations, pregnancy and lifestyle continue to affect the outcome over time.
  • If you are dissatisfied with the changes that have occurred in thigh shape after several years, another thigh lift can be performed.

Costs

A thigh lift is usually an aesthetic procedures, in which case the costs have to be carried by the patient. In exceptional cases, where there is functional impairment, (e.g. chronic infection or pain) due to significant amounts of excess skin and skin folds after massive weight loss, the surgical correction is medically indicated. In these cases, the treatment costs may be covered by health insurance after a prior cost estimation is given. The decision for, or against reimbursement depends on the recommendation of the medical officer in each individual case.

The costs of an aesthetically motivated thig lift are variable and mainly depend on the complexity of the operation and the facility in which the surgery is performed (hospital or AARE KLINIK). A more accurate cost estimate can therefore be made only after a personal consultation.

The costs are composed of:

  • Surgical fee (including consultation and post-operative care)
  • Anaesthesia fee
  • Technical infrastructure costs (AARE KLINIK/hospital)
  • Inpatient hospital costs
  • Compression garment
  • Medication
  • Diagnostics (laboratory, ECG, scans, etc.)

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