Excess thigh skin can cause a variety of problems including difficulties with ambulation, clothing and hygiene. In some cases skin rashes and ulcerations may occur as a result of this condition. In other cases, excess thigh skin can also adversely impact thigh aesthetics and negatively impact self-confidence, self-image and self-esteem. For these reasons it’s not unusual for massive weight loss patients to seek surgical correction of this problem.
Thigh lift surgery is designed to remove and tighten excess thigh skin following massive weight loss. A variety of thigh lift options are available for treating saggy thigh skin. The option chosen is dependent upon the specific anatomic findings associated with this condition.
The procedure is performed by making an incision along the groin crease. In some cases this incision is extended down the inner aspect of the thigh to the level of the knee. Skin flaps are then mobilized and the excess skin is removed. Depending upon the severity of the skin sag this may involve both the transverse and vertical dimensions.
The procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia. Drains are placed at the time of the procedure and are left in place for 7 to 14 days. During this period patients are instructed to minimize activity levels and are restricted to bathroom and kitchen privileges. After two weeks, they can resume normal activities with the exception of heavy lifting and strenuous activities. At 6 to 8 weeks patients can resume all of their normal activities without restrictions.
Thigh lift surgery is associated with high satisfaction rates. The procedure removes and tightens excess thigh skin and ultimately results in significant contour improvement of the thighs. Unfortunately, the procedure is associated with the potential for severe scarring. Transverse scars in the groin region can be easily hidden and minimized with good surgical technique. Scars along the inner aspect of the thigh are more problematic because there’s no way to entirely hide them.
It’s important to understand that this procedure involves a series of tradeoffs. For this reason, it’s important that any patient considering thigh lift surgery consult a board certified plastic surgeon. This surgeon should be able to formulate a treatment plan and provide the technical expertise to maximize these tradeoffs.
Thigh Lift Recovery and Downtime
Thigh lift surgery tightens excess thigh skin which ultimately improves thigh contour. Patients can anticipate limited physical activity for ten to fourteen days following surgery. We typically tell patients bathroom and kitchen privileges initially with slow resumption of normal activity over the next two weeks. Patients can usually return to work in two weeks if no strenuous activity or heavy lifting is involved. After six weeks, they can resume all their normal activities including heavy lifting.
Drains are placed at the time of surgery and are usually removed within two weeks of surgery. Patients typically wear compression dressings for about three weeks following surgery. This minimizes swelling and increases comfort. Most patients are initially given narcotic pain relievers and switched to double strength Tylenol five to seven days following surgery.
Patients with small children should have assistance with childcare for at least one week and patients should not drive while taking narcotics.
For many patients, thigh lift surgery is a life changing experience. The procedure ultimately improves self-confidence, self-image and self-esteem.
Compression Garment Following a Thigh Lift
Compression garments are frequently utilized following thigh lift surgery. The management of these devices varies from surgeon to surgeon and is dependent upon a variety of factors. These garments decrease swelling, remodel soft tissue and increase patient comfort following this type of procedure.
We generally utilize compression garments for 3 to 4 weeks following thigh lift surgery. It’s important to understand that each patient’s situation is unique and for this reason compression garments are occasionally used for longer periods of time. In some cases patients may feel more comfortable wearing these garments in the post-operative period.
It’s important to discuss this issue with your plastic surgeon before proceeding with thigh lift surgery. Your surgeon should be able to outline his protocol for post-operative care and the use of compression garments.