Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery, Sheffield

Thigh lift

Thigh lift surgery is most frequently requested by patients who have lost a significant amount of weight and have been left with loose skin on the upper thighs. Whilst small reductions in thigh size are possible with thigh lift surgery, the main effect of the surgery is to tighten and lift the thigh skin. Mr Morritt offered a variety of options for thigh lift surgery which generally involve a combination of skin excision and liposuction. Scars generally run along the inside of the thigh (full thigh lift) or along the groin crease (medial thigh lift).

Who is a good candidate for thigh lift surgery?

The best candidates for thigh lift surgery are patients who have excess skin and are within the ideal body weight (BMI 20-25), are at a stable body weight that they can maintain and who are in good physical and mental health (do not have any serious medical or mental health problems). Regrettably, as nicotine and smoking are known to affect the circulation to the skin (the skin can die), Mr Morritt is not able to undertake the surgery in patients who are smoking or taking nicotine in any form (patients need to stop nicotine for 6 weeks before and after surgery). It is generally recommended that patients wait at least 6 months after significant weight loss before having a thigh lift surgery.

Thigh lift – operation

Mr Morritt performs thigh lifts under general anaesthesia (the patient is asleep). The cuts made depend on the distribution of excess skin. For small amounts of excess skin it is possible to locate the scar so that it runs along the crease in the upper groin. For more extensive excess skin and thigh descent, a larger area of skin needs to be removed resulting in a scar which runs from the groin to the knee along the inner thigh. Sometimes Mr Morritt performs liposuction during thigh lift surgery to reduce the prominence of fat. The wound is then closed with internal stitches and staples (these all generally dissolve within 3 months of surgery). Mr Morritt routinely inserts a surgical drain in cases where liposuction has been performed and this drain is removed before the patient is discharged from the hospital after surgery.

Most patients who have thigh lift surgery are able to return home 2 days after surgery but are advised to wear a support garment for a further 6 weeks after surgery during healing. Patients are reviewed by the nursing staff 1 week after surgery and at 6 weeks after surgery by Mr Morritt. Mr Morritt advises patients to avoid all strenuous physical activity for 6 weeks after thigh lift surgery.

Before and after photos of patients who have had thigh lift surgery Mr Morrittphotos thigh lift weightloss surgery sheffield gastric sleeve band

Case 1. Photos showing appearances before and 8 weeks after thigh lift surgery. This lady had lost a significant amount of weight after gastric sleeve bariatric surgery. She was unhappy with the excess crinkly skin which has been removed here (this measured 15cm in a front to back direction along the inner thigh) and the skin has been tightened. 

Risks of thigh lift surgery

Thigh lift surgery has a higher complication rate than most other cosmetic procedures (approximately 1 in 5 patients will have some form of complication).

Poor scar – Widened/stretched, thickened (hypertrophic, keloid) or raised.

Infection

Bleeding – may require return to theatre

Seroma – collection of blister type fluid, may need repeated drainage with a needle

Overcorrection/undercorrection – some spare skin needs to be left in areas such as around the knee to allow patients to function normally e.g. kneel. This means that in certain areas the improvement from the surgery will be less significant.

Asymmetry – differences between thighs in shape/scarring etc – this is always the case

Numbness – may be permanent

Chronic pain – this means long term pain

Lymphoedema – chronic swelling of the legs that may be permanent

Distortion of vulva – this means that the vulva lips can be pulled permanently apart which can lead to dryness and discomfort in the vagina. This is rare

Recurrence of saggy skin – will happen for most patients with time as a part of natural ageing; people with poor skin quality or whose weight fluctuates will get recurrence of sagging more quickly

Wound healing problems – healing problems are quite common in the thigh area after thigh lifts but generally have all healed within 6 – 8 weeks of surgery.

Wound breakdown/skin necrosis – usually managed with dressings but larger areas may require return  to theatre for further surgery

DVT/PE/Death