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The procedure

Thigh lifts are operations to remove redundant skin and fat from the thighs and tighten the remaining skin.

What does it involve?

Thigh lifts are usually performed leaving a scar along the length of the inside of the thigh. Limited incision thigh lifts, leaving scars along the groin creases, may also be performed in certain circumstances. Both procedures are performed under general anaesthetic and often involve the use of additional liposuction.

What are the benefits?

Thigh lifts address the loose skin than may develop with weight loss or ageing. The surgery improves the shape of the thigh, not only on the inside, but also has an effect on the whole thigh. Following thigh lift surgery, patients feel more comfortable and confident in wearing more revealing clothing, such as shorts and shorter skirts, that they would not have felt happy about wearing before the procedure.

How long does the surgery take?

The surgery takes 2-3 hours.

What is the recovery period?

You will stay in hospital for 1-2 nights after the surgery to ensure that there is only minimal fluid coming into the surgical drains, which are inserted during your operation. You will be given a support bandage to wear after the operation, or alternatively commercially available support garments may be worn. Bruising and swelling may last 2-3 weeks. You will have to minimise daily activities following the procedure to allow the wounds adequate time to heal. You should be able to return to light duties after 3-weeks, following a post-operative wound check. Gentle walking should be started whilst you are in hospital and this should be continued following discharge, to minimise the risks of post-operative blood clots forming.

How long before daily activities may be resumed?

You should only undertake light sedentary activities after your operation. Strenuous exercise or sporting activity should be avoided until 6-weeks post-surgery. You may be able to drive at 3-weeks, but remember that you need to be comfortable in performing an emergency stop or similar manoeuvre.

What are the success rates?

You will notice a visible improvement in your thigh contour immediately, however the final result should be judged 1-year after surgery, once the scars have settled down. The results of thigh lifts are usually very good and long-lasting, but large fluctuations in weight and the normal effects of ageing can lead to recurrence of loose skin over time.

What are the possible complications?

Serious complications are relatively uncommon after thigh lifts, however the following may be associated with this procedure:

  • Swelling of the leg which may take a long time to resolve in some people
  • Bleeding/haematoma (a collection of blood) requiring a return to the operating theatre
  • Wound infection, delayed healing and fat necrosis (higher risk in those who have lost a great deal of weight, diabetics and recent ex-smokers)
  • Unsightly scarring in some people
  • Nerve injury resulting in numb patches of skin in the leg
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolus (PE) – these are blood clots that may occur in the leg (DVT) and travel to the lung (PE) which may be very serious – fortunately they are uncommon in brachioplasty surgery.
  • Suture spitting – this refers to the deeper dissolvable stitches poking out of the wound some time after the surgery. This happens because occasionally these stitches do not dissolve as quickly as intended, and they then try to work their way out of the wound in much the same way as a splinter would. These stitches can either be removed at one of your hospital visits or they may work their way out on their own.
  • Further surgery may be needed for any of the above