Skin in the inner thigh area is comparable to skin on the inner upper arm: it is thinner and less elastic than skin in most other body areas. Because of this, skin laxity and sagging tend to appear in the inner thigh region at a younger age than elsewhere on the body. Smoothing the thigh contour and reducing the fat deposits that form a bulge at the top of the inner thigh is nearly impossible with weight loss and exercise.
Although several body contouring procedures (including liposuction and a circumferential body lift) can make a remarkable improvement in the contour of the front, back, and outer thighs, they are less effective in reducing excess fat and skin of the inner thighs. This problem is best treated with an inner (medial) thigh lift.
If there is an excessive amount of skin laxity not only at the top of the inner thigh but also extending along the entire length of the inner thigh, toward the knees, a thighplasty may be needed to remove the skin excess.
With an inner thigh lift, the incision is hidden in the groin crease. In contrast, a thighplasty incision extends from the groin crease down the inner part of the thigh and ends just above the knees. Because a thighplasty incision is long, this procedure is usually reserved for massive weight loss patients who have a significant amount of skin laxity. The medial thigh lift procedure is appropriate for most cosmetic body contouring patients as well as weight loss patients.
For a medial thigh lift, each thigh receives an incision in the natural groin crease where the inner thigh meets the trunk or torso (between the thigh and the labia or scrotum) and extends to the gluteal crease. In other words, the incisions run a few inches alongside the genitals from front to back. This incision location means the scars are well hidden by underwear and swim suits.
Through these incisions, an ellipse of skin and underlying fat deposits are removed from each upper inner thigh. The skin lower on the thighs is then lifted upward to a higher position and the incision closed with stitches.
A thighplasty incorporates the inner thigh lift but another incision is made in each thigh that extends down toward the knee. This permits removal of larger quantities of loose, sagging skin. In addition to removing excess fat and lifting the skin upward, a thighplasty allows the plastic surgeon to pull the skin on the front of the thigh toward the back and the skin on the back of the thigh toward the front. The skin along the length of the medial thigh can therefore be tightened more effectively.
The obvious disadvantage of a thighplasty is the scar that extends from the groin toward the knee. Although the scars will fade over time, they will never be invisible and may be noticeable if you wear shorts.
In people with large amounts of fat in the inner thighs (in addition to sagging skin), two surgeries are required to achieve the best results. First, liposuction of the inner thighs is done to "de-bulk" the excess fat. About 6 months later, the inner thigh lift is performed to remove the excess skin.
What To Expect After A Medial Thigh Lift Or Thighplasty
An inner thigh lift usually takes 1-1/2 to 2 hours, and a thighplasty may take up to 3 hours. The thighs are swollen and bruised at first, and the post-operative pain is controlled with medications prescribed by your surgeon.
There will be some discomfort when walking because of the incisions in the groin crease, but this should subside within 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. Because of the incision locations, slow wound healing in small areas is common with both an inner thigh lift and thighplasty.
Most patients return to work within 2 weeks and can engage in more strenuous activity in 4 to 6 weeks. Although inner thigh re-contouring can be performed alone, most patients have it done in combination with other body contouring procedures of the lower body.
Length Of Surgery
1-1/2 to 3 hours
Usually inpatient, with a 1 night hospital stay if a thigh lift is performed alone. When other procedures are done in the same surgery, the hospital stay may be extended.
Temporary pain and discomfort, especially when walking. Temporary swelling, bruising, and skin numbness occur between the legs.
Scars, delayed wound healing, bleeding at the incisions, and blood clots in the legs. In women, the labia may be distorted, but this is usually temporary. Rarely, the scars widen. Thighplasty scars will be visible when wearing shorts.
Back to work: about 2 weeks.
More strenuous activity: 4 to 6 weeks.
Fading and flattening of scars: 6 to 18 months.
Duration of Results
Considered permanent, unless weight gain occurs.