Thigh Lift

Thigh lift procedures remove excess fat and skin from the inner or outer thighs to give a slimmer, tighter look to the upper leg and buttock region.  Most thigh lift procedures involve both liposuction and direct removal of fat and skin to recontour and tighten the thigh.  This can result in a much better appearance than can be achieved with liposuction alone, especially in those patients with loose skin.

Thigh lift or liposuction?

Patients with mild to moderated excess fullness in the upper thighs and good skin quality are more easily treated with liposuction.  When we remove the underlying fat in these areas the skin has the ability to shrink and tighten to give the thigh a good shape.

However, if the skin is of worse quality, with stretch marks, dimpling, or a general loss of skin tone, liposuction may only worsen the appearance by causing the skin to sag.  In this case, fat removal can be performed but the skin must be tightened as well to achieve a good appearance.  This is especially true in patients who have experienced significant weight loss. 

Best candidates

Thigh lifts are best suited for those patients who are otherwise healthy, at a stable weight, and are not significantly overweight.  If you have experienced significant weight loss, such as after a gastric bypass procedure, we generally suggest you be at a stable weight for at least 6 months before surgery.   Proper diet and exercise after surgery will only improve your result.

Types of thigh lift

At your consultation we will evaluate your problem areas and discuss what might be done to achieve the best result.  If liposuction alone is adequate, then a thigh lift may not be needed.  If your skin quality is compromised, we will discuss in detail how we can perform a thigh lift.

Inner thigh lift

The inner thigh lift procedure is performed in the operating room under a general anesthetic.  It can be performed alone or in combination with other procedures, such as abdominoplasty and/or outer thigh lift.  The procedure usually begins with liposuction of the inner thighs and, when necessary, the knee area.  This not only removes excess fat but also makes the overlying tissues easier to move and tighten.  We then excise a wedge of skin from the uppermost part of the inner thigh and move the remaining tissues upward.  The tissues are then reattached at a higher level with both deep anchoring sutures and sutures just beneath the skin.  The incision and subsequent scar is placed so as to lie in or just above the groin crease where it can be hidden under a bathing suit or panties.

When there is extensive skin excess, such as may be seen after significant weight loss, we may have to extend our incision down the inner thigh to remove this excess.  In these cases, the scar cannot be hidden under a bathing suit but may have to extend further down the leg, even all the way to the knee.  While we don’t like these more visible scars, patients with this much skin excess find this to be a significant improvement over their preoperative appearance.

Outer thigh lift

Tightening of the outer thighs is similar to that of the inner thighs.  Again, this is performed in the operating room under a general anesthetic and may be combined with other procedures, most commonly an abdominoplasty.  The operation begins with liposuction of the excess fat in the thighs, followed by repositioning of the skin and deeper tissues in an upward direction after the excess skin and fat are removed.  The incisions are placed high on the thigh and buttock region, where they can be hidden under bathing suits and other clothing.  When combined with an abdominoplasty, the final scar may extend almost completely around the trunk but the result is a significant reshaping of the thighs, hips, buttocks, and abdominal region.

Combination procedures

Thigh lifts may be combined with other procedures, both cosmetic and reconstructive.  Most commonly, they are performed in combination with an abdominoplasty as this permits recontouring of the central area of the abdomen, thigh, hip, and buttock region.  When an abdominoplasty is combined with both an inner and outer thigh lift it is generally referred to as a “lower body lift”.

Other procedures may be performed with a thigh lift as well.  These include:

We are comfortable working with your gynecologist, urologist, general surgeon or others to carry out other procedures at the time of your thigh lift.  In some cases, we may suggest you NOT combine other procedures with your abdominoplasty, especially if it will significantly increase your time in the operating room or increase your chances of complications.  Doing the operation well and safely is always our first concern.

The surgery

We perform thigh lifts at either the Lawrence Surgery Center or Lawrence Memorial Hospital.  Both are fully accredited and well equipped for your surgery and care afterward.  The operation will be performed under a general anesthetic and generally takes around 2-4 hours depending on the extent of the procedure performed.  After the procedure is performed you will be placed in a compressive garment to maintain steady pressure on the operated areas.  This helps to minimize swelling and bruising and reshape the newly repositioned tissues.  Pain after the procedure ranges from moderate to fairly significant but will be controlled with your pain medications. For more extensive procedures patients are kept overnight for monitoring under the care of nursing staff and discharged on the following morning.  Patients undergoing less extensive procedures may go home on the same day.


The rate at which you recover is highly individual, depending on the extent of the procedure performed and your own rate of healing.  Patients usually require strong pain medications for the first few days, then can progress to less sedating drugs.  In general, we recommend at least 1-2 weeks off from work.  If your job requires strenuous physical activity or your procedure is extensive, we may suggest being off even longer.  We can give you a better estimate at the time of your consultation once the extent of the operation is determined.

Quick fact

From 2000 to 2019 the number of thigh lifts performed in the U.S. has almost doubled.

5 Reasons why you should have your thigh lift performed at Lawrence Plastic Surgery:

  • Experience– We have taken a great interest in thigh lifts for many years and have the happy patients and great results to show for it.
  • Accredited facilities– We only perform this operation at Lawrence Memorial Hospital or the Lawrence Surgery Center.
  • Safety– We place your safety above all else.  We have given educational talks at national conferences on safe practices and body contouring procedures and take the issue very seriously.
  • Surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery
  • Great staff and office environment–  Our experienced staff, including a Certified Plastic Surgery nurse, work alongside your surgeon every step of the way to give you not just a great operation but a great experience.

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