With more than one-third of the US adult population considered obese, over the recent years there has been an upsurge on the number of bariatric or weight loss surgery. While this a life-saving procedure, some patients remain dissatisfied with their appearance due to their large redundant skin and hanging fats that no longer respond to further diet and exercise.
Leading Los Angeles plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley says thigh lift is one of the most common requests of massive weight loss (MWL) patients, citing a survey showing that about 4,800 patients underwent the procedure last year alone.
According to a 2016 survey released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, about 55,200 MWL patients had some type of body contouring surgery.
Dr. Smiley says that post-MWL thigh lift is often just a component of a series of body contouring surgery due to the natural distribution of redundant skin that also affects the abdomen, buttocks, breasts, and upper arms. Oftentimes, the patients also develop a varying degree of sagging neck and jowl, he adds.
Meanwhile, he explains some surprising thigh lift facts:
- All efforts are made to hide the scar within the natural skin fold—e.g., groin and gluteal fold.
While a good surgeon will make every effort to create incision patterns in which the resulting scar runs within the natural skin fold, the scar length will still depend on the extent and location of loose skin. Hence, inner thigh lift for MWL patients entails a vertical scar on the inside of their leg that may even reach their knee.
- Outer thigh lift is often a component of lower body lift.
As a stand-alone procedure, outer thigh lift uses an oblique incision between the top of the leg and hip, resulting in a V-shaped scar pattern. But due to the natural diffusion of excess skin, occasionally the incision is extended across the circumference of the torso, leading to a belt-like scar.
With a lower body lift, the outer thigh, hips, anterior abdomen, and buttocks are simultaneously lifted and their contours improved.
- Most patients described their recovery after medial thigh lift “tough.”
Due to gravity and persistent swelling, the medial thigh lift incisions are susceptible to wound breakdown. In fact, it is not uncommon to have small separations in the incision, which mostly do not require a surgical closure although they can result in additional healing time.
In general, it takes three weeks for most patients to be able to return to work and another 3-4 weeks before they can gradually start doing more rigorous activities.
- Medial thigh lift is best performed separately from tummy tuck.
Tummy tuck often elevates the sagging mons pubis, while the inner thigh lift pulls down the skin to improve the contour of the leg. Due to the opposing tension, it is often ideal to perform them separately.