Thigh Lift Surgery by Jan Stanek at Surgical Aesthetics
Large weight gain (with or without subsequent loss), pregnancies, hereditary factors, hormonal influences and stretching are all factors that contribute to unattractive thighs and buttocks.
Although weight control through diet and exercise is most important, many structural changes cannot be corrected through any method other than surgery. In cases where a large amount of excessive skin is present in the form of folds, liposuction alone will not give satisfactory results. The excessive skin must be removed along an incision which is usually located within a bathing suit line at the level of a crease. Stretch marks may be improved, but can never be entirely eliminated.
The patient considering surgery should be in general good health and weight should be reasonable. The surgery is not a weight control measure though it may be helpful after a large amount of weight is lost and residual sagging skin remains. He or she should not smoke and should be on some type of exercise program. (Running or walking is recommended.)
Thigh Lift: The Surgery
Thigh lifts are performed by making an incision in the inner groin crease, along the underwear line, so that the skin can be tightened without a scar on the leg itself. The skin is lifted down to the muscle layer, peripheral excessive fat is excised away, loose excessive skin is removed and the skin is pulled upwards like a pair of stockings. The tissues are meticulously closed with several layers of specialized stitches. Stitches placed under the skin are usually absorbable. Those on the surface of the skin are removed at ten days. In those patients where there is additional circumferential skin laxity, which may extend as far as knees, it may be necessary to include a vertical incision. This incision may extend from knees to the groin, in addition to the groin incision. Those with excess subcutaneous fat may benefit from simultaneous liposuction of the inner and front thighs, to achieve optimal result. Drain may be used to remove excess fluid and blood during your stay in hospital.
Recovery normally entails one to two days in bed, three to five additional days of relaxing and convalescing (during which the patient may begin to get up to shower, etc.), and another three to five days of progressive activity. (Driving, sex, etc. may gradually be resumed during this period.) Twelve to fourteen days is the usual length of recovery. Once the incisions have had some time to heal, you should wear tight bicycle pants to help the skin heal in position.
Dependent on the extent of tissue excess and laxity, considerable improvement in contour and profile can be seen. Discomfort is much less than most patients expect. Any soreness is easily controlled with analgesics.
For two days, try to rest as much as possible and stay on a soft diet. Eat lightly, but drink plenty of fluids and eat fruit to prevent constipation. Slight oozing of your incision lines is normal for a day or two, but if you notice excessive swelling or large amounts of blood on your dressings, call the office.
In most cases, a wait of two to three weeks before returning to work is about right. Depending on the extent of surgical repair, exercise can be started after three to four weeks and increased to a normal level at six to eight weeks
Thigh Lift: The Risks and Possible Complications
Of greatest importance is the trade-off of excessive laxity and tissue for resultant scars which are rarely terrible but never fully inconspicuous. Due to the location and the degree of tension of the incision line, a certain degree of scar fullness or thickness may result as well as numbness, itching, and swelling. Most of these, however, resolve with time.
- Infection: Approximately 2% of patients develop an infection requiring soaks, antibiotics, or drainage. Although the vast majority are easily controlled, in rare cases a more extensive infection can require intravenous antibiotics, hospitalisation and possibly subsequent surgery.
- Bleeding, Haematoma or Seroma: With patients who avoid aspirin, vitamin E and anti-inflammatories prior to surgery and allow themselves sufficient recovery time to rest, the incidence of bleeding problems is very low. Drains are generally used to collect blood for one to two days. Extensive bleeding under the skin flap (called haematoma) is rare but requires immediate surgery to avoid pressure and possible loss of skin segments. Infrequently, a clear fluid may collect, requiring needle aspiration (referred to as a seroma.)
- Healing difficulties: Due to the extent of surgery small areas of crustiness, suture reaction, thickening of scars, small stitch ulcers, separations may occur. These are a minor inconvenience but heal with time. In some cases scarring, asymmetries, and of recurrent fat collections all may require smaller secondary touch- up revisions six to twelve months after surgery.
- Blood clots: Very rarely blood clots form in the legs and these can, in rare instances, pass to the lungs. The risk of this complication has been lessened with the use of leg stockings, increased mobility after surgery, shorter surgery time and improved anaesthesia.
Finally, it is essential to consult a surgeon if you are contemplating cosmetic surgery, so that a correct assessment of your problem can be made, and you can be advised of the right management. Only then are you in the position to make an informed decision whether cosmetic surgery is the correct solution to your problem.