Thigh lifts for droopy thighs

A Thigh Lift Surgery after Weight Loss is a cosmetic procedure in which excess thigh skin is removed and the remaining thigh skin lifted, is common after weight loss.

Though many other body areas seem to bother patients who have had massive weight loss more, eventually, after their tummy tuck, breast lift with or without enlargement via implants and arm lift comes the thigh lift. Still, last year, the number of thigh lifts performed in the US dropped 27% compared with 2011. Reason unknown.

The main issue facing weight loss patients is that skin becomes loose and loses elasticity. Skin droops. It droops in the belly, breasts, arms, buttocks and thighs.
In the thigh area, skin drooping is common in three regions:

  • Anterior thigh – the skin in the front that droops over the knees
  • Inner thigh – skin drooping in inner thighs that is unsightly
  • Posterior thigh – skin under buttocks

A thigh lift  may address all or just one of these areas.

Thigh lift surgery

Techniques for performing thigh lifts are based on your plastic surgeon’s training as well as your own wishes. I have always thought that techniques where vertical cuts are made on the inner side of the thighs and arms for “lifting” them are useless. These horrible vertical scars do not lift anything. They may make the limb smaller in diameter, but at the cost of an unsightly visible scar that is too much for me. After all, plastic surgery patients want to wear shorts or short-sleeved shirts. With a long scar, that is not possible.

My preferred technique is a horizontal groin scar. It starts in the groin crease in front and follows the crease backwards where it lies in the buttocks crease. In this way, your scar is hidden and you can wear shorts.
Markings for skin excisions are made. Surgery begins with a thigh liposuction to remove excess fat and make the thighs smaller. Excess skin is then excised. Strong sutures are used to secure the heavy thigh skin to the underlying groin area tissues and the skin is closed with multiple suture layers. Heavy thigh skin will have a tendency to try to pull scars down, and securing high up skin is important. Nevertheless, some drooping of the scar with time is inevitable and should be anticipated.

Complications of thigh lifts

As with any cosmetic procedure, complications can occur:

  • Infection – rare. Patients will need to take antibiotics prophylactically.
  • Bleeding – rare. I typically do not use drains for this surgery.
  • Wound separation – common. Almost all patients will have some opening of the wound. Due to the location of the scars, the moment a patient sits down there is tension on the scar and wounds can open. Treatment usually involves cleaning wounds and packing them with gauze. Wound openings typically heal themselves. Future scar revisions may be necessary after wound healing is complete.
  • Difficulty walking – common. Due to the location of the incisions, walking is a bit difficult for the first few days after surgery. No exercise is allowed for several weeks.

As compared to so many other cosmetic surgery procedures I perform, recovery from a thigh lift is, in my opinion, one of the more difficult recoveries. Recovery from a tummy tuck may initially be more painful due to muscle cramps, but it is short-lived; with breast surgery, it may take longer for final results to appear; however, a thigh lift is the one cosmetic procedure that really requires a motivated and well-informed patient. It does not hurt much, but it does take a long time to heal and requires more wound care.

However, for patients who really need and want it, a thigh lift opens possibilities for wearing shorts and miniskirts again and gives cosmetic plastic surgery patients the confidence to show off one of the few body parts that is acceptable to display in many parts of the world. Now, that’s worth an arm and a leg.


  • Hi,
    I liked what you said about the technique you used. Unfortunately it is too late for me.. I was wondering though, if you have heard of one that just goes from the top of the leg..not the groin..and runs vertically down to the knee. I have extensive loose tissue in this area due to massive weight loss. Would you still have recommended the technique you outlined here?

    Kind regards,

    • Hi Lynne. It is true that the scars in the groin , the way I prefer to do this surgery, will result in less skin being removed. It does however leave you with a scar that is well hidden and allows you to wear shorts. A scar in the front of the thighs or even one in the inside of the thighs will leave you with a visible scar that will probably preclude you from showing your thighs. So as long as you don’t mind having to wear tights or trousers the rest of your life, you will get more skin being removed by other techniques!

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