Top Tips for a Smooth Thigh Lift Recovery

Published: April 22, 2024
Category: Dr. Nathan Leigh, Thigh Lift, Blog

Thigh lift surgery may not be as commonplace as breast augmentation or liposuction when it comes to plastic surgery, but that doesn’t make it any less life-changing for patients who are frustrated with the appearance of their thighs. The skin quality of our thighs can change dramatically as we age, especially if we experience significant weight loss. These changes are often marked by loose, excess skin, saddlebags, wrinkles, and poorly proportioned contours to the lower body. Although some of us can improve the appearance of our thighs through diet and exercise, these efforts rarely affect sagging skin. A surgical thigh lift focuses on removing loose skin and fat from the inner and/or outer thigh region to improve skin quality and the contour of the thighs.

What does thigh lift surgery accomplish?

“A thigh lift creates smoother, tighter thighs with enhanced contour and shape,” explains Dr. Nathan Leigh, a partner and board-certified plastic surgeon with Edina Plastic Surgery. “The most common patients I see for thigh lift surgery are those who have achieved a dramatic weight loss and are left with excess skin that hangs from the thighs and distorts their shape, especially in tight-fitting clothing,” he continues. “A thigh lift is a customized surgery that may include liposuction to remove stubborn pockets of fat and will generally focus on either the inner or outer thighs.”

What’s the difference between an inner thigh lift and an outer thigh lift?

Inner thigh lift – The incision for an inner thigh lift is made on the inside of the leg. Some patients achieve sufficient skin excision with an incision in the groin crease only. Others require an incision in the groin crease as well as vertically down the length of the thigh to the knee. The incision will be as long as needed to address all the problematic areas you would like corrected. It can also extend around toward the back or front of the thigh. This technique provides discreet results since the scarring occurs on the inside of the leg.

Outer thigh lift – An outer thigh lift often involves a larger incision and more extensive scarring. The incision starts near the groin and wraps up and around the patient’s hip. The incisions are strategically placed to be hidden under most clothing and swimsuits, but they may be more visible than the scars of an inner thigh lift. However, more extensive incisions generally mean more ability to correct and more dramatic results, and many patients find this is a trade they are happy to make.

What happens during thigh lift surgery?

“The first step of thigh lift surgery is determining whether an inner or outer thigh lift will help you accomplish your desired aesthetic,” says Dr. Leigh. “The incision your surgeon makes will allow them to remove the fat and tissue necessary to restore a smoother, more contoured thigh. These incisions will be made discreetly as possible so they can be hidden by clothing. Liposuction is frequently performed with thigh lift surgery to loosen and remove additional fat and reshape the thigh. The remaining skin is then pulled and redraped into a tighter position, and the incisions are closed. Suture may also be placed within deeper tissues to promote an even tauter appearance to the thighs.”

Top Tips for a Smooth Recovery from Thigh Lift Surgery

“I strongly encourage my patients to invest in their recovery from surgery just as much as their preparation,” stresses Dr. Leigh. “Your surgery is accomplished in a matter of hours, but your recovery lasts months and has a multitude of opportunities for you to enhance your results. Take your recovery seriously if you want the best outcome from thigh lift surgery.”

#1 – Follow directions

At Edina Plastic Surgery, you will be given a folder containing all of your pre-op and post-op instructions. Follow them closely to prepare for your surgery and have a successful recovery. Text or call your surgical team if you have any questions, no matter how big or small.

#2 – Secure your support team

“Having support after surgery matters, both physically and mentally,” explains Dr. Leigh. “You’ll need to lean on family and friends to drive you around, help you shower, cook your meals, and provide encouragement and a few laughs! Secure your team of reliable helpers well before your surgery so you can focus on rest and recovery afterward.”

#3 – Prepare your house for recovery

Comfort is key in the first few days after surgery. Make sure you have any support pillows for propping you into comfortable positions on the couch and in bed. Have pre-prepared meals in the fridge ready to warm up in the microwave. Have a few pairs of loose, pull-on pants that will make changing easy, leave room for drainage tubes, and not irritate your thighs. Do everything you can to prepare your environment to accommodate your need to rest.

#4 – Work ahead at work

Your recovery should be focused on rest, not on a looming project deadline at work. Schedule your procedure around important work tasks and projects and take the recommended amount of time off so you aren’t stressed about work after your thigh lift surgery.

#5 – Drink up (just not alcohol!)

“Dehydration is the devil when it comes to recovering from surgery,” says Dr. Leigh. “If you’re not drinking enough water after surgery, you will feel weak, your swelling will persist, you won’t flush waste by-products of healing tissues out of your system, medications may make your stomach upset, and you WILL get constipated from pain medications. None of these are fun during recovery, so strive to drink up to half your body weight in ounces of water during recovery.”

#6 – Take taping seriously

“Patients often want me to recommend expensive creams and gadgets to improve the appearance of scars after surgery, but honestly, one of the absolute best things you can do after any surgery is to keep incisions taped with surgical tape,” advises Dr. Leigh. “Tape reduces any tension on incisions as they are healing. This improves the chances that they will heal flat and no additional inflammatory pigmentation will form. I tell my patients to stay taped for up to 12 weeks after surgery. Then, we discuss transitioning to topicals and scar revision treatments with laser at Skin Artisans.”

#7 – Compress for success

“I get it; there is absolutely nothing fashionable or comfortable about compression garments, but they are a MUST during your thigh lift recovery,” stresses Dr. Leigh. “Compression garments help reduce swelling, tension on incisions, and help form the future contours of your new thighs. If you want a successful outcome from thigh lift surgery, wear your compression garments for as long as your surgeon recommends.”

#8 – Keep it moving

Although you will have several movement and lifting restrictions after thigh lift surgery, you must keep walking for short durations during recovery. Walking encourages circulation, which reduces swelling and the potential for blood clots, and facilitates lymphatic drainage of waste products. You’ll be advised to get up and gently walk around your room every hour that you are not awake after surgery. You can increase this time by five to ten minutes every week thereafter.

#9 – Use your surgery as a catalyst for a healthier lifestyle

“Many of my patients use their surgery as a launchpad to embrace a healthier new life after surgery, and guess what – it gets them even better results after a thigh lift,” shares Dr. Leigh. “Never underestimate how one visible improvement to a part of your body that has bothered you can have on your overall confidence. I am so inspired by the work so many patients do to completely transform their diet and exercise habits after surgery to maintain their results. This commitment not only enhances their surgical outcome but their overall life for the better.”

#10 – Keep all lines of communication open

During recovery from thigh lift surgery, it’s important to stay in touch with your surgeon and surgical team, especially if you have questions. Don’t worry—you are NOT inconveniencing the surgeon or staff!

“At Edina Plastic Surgery, we really do view our patients as family,” says Dr. Leigh. “I hate the idea of a patient sitting at home, feeling anxious, and wondering if something they are experiencing is normal after surgery. That’s why we always have a surgeon on call after hours and a 24/7 comprehensive texting system that allows you to reach out to our staff anytime with answers to your questions. You can also call the clinic directly during business hours and speak with us! I can’t stress enough that your surgeon and his team are your partners in your surgical journey, and we’re here to support you every step of the way!”

Are you interested in achieving smoother, slimmer thighs with thigh lift surgery? Schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss this procedure with Dr. Nathan Leigh or another board-certified plastic surgeon at Edina Plastic Surgery by calling (952) 592-5714, texting (952) 925-1765, or CLICKING HERE!

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