Thigh Lift Overview

Thigh lift surgery, also commonly referred to as “Thighplasty”, is an outpatient procedure that reduces excess skin and fat of the inner (medial) or outer (lateral) thighs to create a firmer and tighter, more lifted and youthful-appearing thigh contour. Patients who have experienced significant aging or weight loss resulting in saggy skin of the inner or outer thighs are most commonly the patients who request this procedure, as no amount of further diet and exercise can adequately correct the sagging skin and soft tissues that cannot be hidden in bathing suits and clothing. Due to successful weight loss methods, body lifts in general, and thigh lift surgery too, have become increasingly popular. In cases where the skin has become too inelastic with weight loss, or when there are significant stretch marks, thigh lifting will be more successful in tightening the thigh area than our nonsurgical devices.

What Is Thigh Lift Surgery?

Since each patient has a variable amount of skin laxity and soft tissue sagging, as well as a variable amount of residual excess adipose tissue, Dr. Samuels will thoroughly customize the surgical approach of a thigh lift to create a tighter, firmer and more proportionally contoured thigh shape and appearance. Thigh lifts are broken down into medial (inner) and lateral (outer) thigh lifts. The outer (lateral) thigh lift is usually combined with a buttock lift or posterior body lift in Dr. Samuels’ hands. We rarely recommend performing an abdominoplasty (HIGH LATERAL TENSION ABDOMINOPLASTY) and a thigh lift in the same procedure due to excessively long operating times and increased risk. Although VASER LIPOSUCTION can be combined with Lateral Thigh-Posterior Body (Buttock) Lifts, it is generally inadvisable to perform liposuction during a Medial Thigh Lift due to the risk of compromising the blood supply to the inner thigh which can result in poor healing of the elevated skin flaps.

Types of thigh lifts

Inner (Medial) Thigh Lift:  Incisions are placed in the inguinal areas and occasionally extend down toward the knees

Upper Medial (Modified) Thigh Lift:  This technique allows for use of just the inguinal incisions and avoids the long inner thigh incision that extends toward the knees.  The upper medial thigh lift therefore only tightens the tissues of the upper one-third of the thigh and not the tissues around the knees themselves.  

Outer (Lateral) Thigh Lift:  This technique is referred to as a bilateral thigh lift and treats skin laxity in the front and outer thighs.  The incision is traditionally made just below the buttocks, but since this incision can alter the shape of the buttocks fold negatively and is hard to conceal, Dr. Samuels usually prefers to use the Lateral Thigh-Posterior Buttock or Body Lift approach to address both the lateral posterior thighs and buttocks as a unit.  In this approach, the incision begins where a tummy tuck incision would end and raises the lateral (outer) thigh and buttock as a unit with incisions that can be more easily concealed by a bathing suit, and without compromising the buttock fold shape itself.  

Lateral (outer) Thigh-Posterior Body Lift:  This technique is commonly used for patients who desire contouring and tightening after a HIGH LATERAL TENSION ABDOMINOPLASTY, and once the latter procedure has healed and there has been maximal tightening of the waist and upper anterior and medial thigh.  The incision for this procedure will therefore begin where the tummy tuck incision ends on the hip and continue on around the back in an area easily concealed by a one or two-piece bathing suit.  VASER LIPOSUCTION of the outer (lateral) thigh may be safely combined with this procedure.  Since it would be very difficult to find an adequate position for recovery and healing to do both the tummy tuck and this posterior body lift at the same time, and since the HIGH LATERAL TENSION ABDOMINOPLASTY itself provides a high degree of waist shaping and tightening, Dr. Samuels recommends that patients interested in this procedure pursue it after the abdominoplasty to see if they really need it, and since in most cases, the VASER LIPOSUCTION with RENUVION of the posterior trunk usually gives an adequate result without posterior body thigh or buttock lifting. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Both of these procedures are outpatient procedures performed in our fully Quad A credentialed in-suite operating facility under either IV sedation or light general anesthesia. If a lateral thigh lift is being performed, VASER LIPOSUCTION is performed first and then the skin is lifted. In the case of a medial thigh lift, any VASER LIPOSUCTION needed is recommended to be performed either prior to the thigh lift procedure, or later if necessary, to avoid vascular compromise of the skin flaps of the inner thigh or poor scar healing. Patients are placed in mildly compressive thigh ace wraps for 1-4 days and then in a body contouring garment. Garments are worn for approximately 2 – 4 weeks and strenuous physical activities and exercise may be resumed at 6 weeks to allow for stronger scar healing. Our office believes strongly in the use of post-operative silicone sheeting and scar gels for an entire year after surgery, so that the longer incisions of the body lifts heal well. The post-operative period of approximately two weeks includes the need for daily dressing changes to protect early incisions as well as normal amounts of swelling, bruising and mild discomfort. With the use of scar products, the resultant scars are quite acceptable to our patients, although some scars may drift downward out of concealed areas with the effects of gravity over time. The latter is of most significance in our medial thigh lift patients, as we cannot eliminate the effects of gravity. Dr. Samuels works to prevent scar displacement that may occur over time by utilizing the deep fascial system to anchor her thigh lift closures.

While thigh lifting yields a very high patient satisfaction, the longer incisions of thigh lifts are usually better accepted by our significant weight loss patients who have the most loose skin and soft tissues.  Patients experiencing the effects of normal aging (especially of the inner thighs) or CELLULITE with skin laxity may do better by choosing one of our nonsurgical or lesser invasive options such as: EXILIS, VASER SHAPE, EMSCULPT NEO, PROFOUND, MORPHEUS8, Exion Fractional RF or RENUVION with or without VASER LIPOSUCTION.  While all types of thigh lifting provide very long-lasting results, future aging in our patients with inelastic skin may require further skin tightening or revision lifting.  In most cases, the use of our nonsurgical or minimally invasive options listed here will suffice for maintenance of results.  Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle is also helpful in maintenance of results.  

Good candidates for a thigh lift procedure are:

  • Patients with excess soft tissues along the inner and outer or posterior thighs
  • Healthy patients with no significant or poorly controlled medical problems that increase the risks of surgery in general or that impair wound healing
  • Patients at a stable weight that is near their “goal” weight
  • Non-smokers or patients who do not use nicotine.  We recommend that all our lift patients avoid nicotine for at least 6 weeks prior to and after surgery. 

Dr. Samuels and her nursing staff always consider lesser invasive alternatives to surgical procedures in every case and will mention them in every consultation so that our patients can make well-informed choices.  These lesser invasive options are stand-alone alternatives to surgery in most cases, and yet also serve as recommended post-operative adjuncts to surgery in the maintenance period.  They also may enhance the surgical result if investigated as soon as 3- 4 weeks post-operatively.  

With aging or weight loss, most patients experience the appearance of crepey or saggy skin of the inner or outer thighs which may also be accompanied by cellulite and unwanted fat.  Dr. Samuels and her nurse providers have great interest in helping patients with these common problems and have the following procedures to offer to patients:  

  • EXILIS will tighten skin but will not melt significant fat or treat overlying skin crepiness
  • VASER SHAPE both tightens loose skin and reduces unwanted fat but also will not smooth crepey overlying skin.  VASER SHAPE is very  helpful for cellulite as well. 
  • MORPHEUS8 will be one of the best options for crepey skin of the inner and outer/posterior thighs.  It is also an effective option for cellulite but will not truly tighten saggy skin of the thighs as much as surgical lifting.
  • Exion Fractional RF
  • PROFOUND can help with skin laxity and deep cellulite, however PROFOUND will not smooth the overlying skin or treat crepey skin surfaces, and can only be used on areas the size of an 8.5×11 size piece of paper; therefore, for the larger thigh areas, MORPHEUS8 is faster and more effective. 
  • EMSCULPT NEO will provide muscle toning of the inner and outer thighs as well as fat reduction and visible skin tightening, but will not treat the crepey skin surface itself or treat cellulite.
  • CO2RE laser resurfacing is effective in treating skin crepiness and will smooth wrinkles, but will not treat unwanted skin laxity, excess fat or truly sagging skin.

*Many of the above treatment options can be combined in a customized approach, and combination device packages are always attractively discounted. 

*Since cellulite is improved in appearance with significant skin tightening (just pull on the skin of your inner or outer thigh in order to appreciate this effect), thigh lifts do improve cellulite for as long as the thigh lift remains tight.  The above treatment options for the skin surface therefore remain important adjuncts to adding to the results of thigh lift surgery.     

Schedule a Thigh Lift Consultation

For more information about thigh lifts, schedule a consultation with Dr. Samuels at 502-897-9411.

Our practice serves Louisville, KY and the surrounding area.