Thigh Lift Surgery: Everything you need to know about the procedure, recovery and scarring


Medically Reviewed April 2023, by Ranjeet Jeevan - Consultant Aesthetic Plastic Surgeon

Thigh lift surgery, or thighplasty, is a body contouring technique popular among those with excess loose skin around the inner thigh. At The Harley Medical Group, we understand that our clients’ concerns around excess skin often extend beyond aesthetics. Skin laxity of the inner thigh can lead to chafing, skin irritation and painful acne, and the impact of this on quality of life and psychosocial well-being is commonly significant.


Depending on the cause and extent of excess skin on the inner thigh, a number of surgical approaches are available. The option to incorporate liposuction into the operation is available for those who need it, for example, those who have undergone massive weight loss and have residual fat tissue in the area.

If excess skin is limited to the upper region of the inner thigh, it may be suitable to use a single horizontal cut for skin tightening, which may mean the scar can be hidden in the groin. For clients with more widespread loose skin that extends further down the thigh or even down to the knee, a vertical incision will be needed in the form of a partial or full vertical thighplasty. This approach allows the surgeon to remove a larger amount of skin and tighten the area more effectively. However, vertical incisions lead to more, potentially noticeable, scarring.

If liposuction is required, but will not achieve optimum results alone, this will be performed first with a recovery period allowed before skin tightening surgery. Depending on the individual, the time between liposuction and skin resection can be around 6 months.

Is thigh lift risky and what are the potential complications?

As is the case with any surgical procedure, there are risks to consider. Here we will provide an overview of some of the common complications, but a more in-depth discussion of the risks will be delivered by your expert surgeon.

  • Wound dehiscence – where the skin edges separate and don’t heal as planned,
  • Infection,
  • Seroma – where fluid collects beneath the skin after the procedure,
  • Leg swelling and oedema
  • Hypertrophic scarring – where a thicker, raised scar occurs over the incision site.

Major complications are extremely rare and the most effective way of reducing the likelihood of experiencing complications is to select an experienced, highly-skilled provider, engage with the recovery process and keep in contact with your aftercare team to share concerns.

What does the recovery journey involve?

Thigh lift surgery is an invasive procedure, most commonly performed under general anaesthetic. However an overnight stay is not always necessary.

A detailed understanding of the recovery process and advanced planning is the best way to ensure a seamless recovery. Immediately following surgery, you may experience some drowsiness and disorientation as expected with a general anaesthetic. Personalised compression garments will be fitted to aid the recovery process by minimising swelling and promoting wound healing.

Once you have returned home, it is important to arrange up to 2 weeks away from work, depending on the activity level of your job. Given that your range of motion will be limited for the first week at least, it is advisable to make sure you have help with your daily activities. It is also important to avoid any exercise for 6-8 weeks, but early mobility is recommended to reduce the chance of forming blood clots.

You may experience some pain and discomfort during the initial weeks of recovery; however, pain relief medication will be prescribed to minimise this. Towards the end of the first week, a follow-up appointment will be arranged to review your progress, assess wound healing and remove any stitches.

Your compression garment is essential during the recovery process, but you will experience swelling in the area during the initial months of recovery. Depending on the individual, this can take an extended period of time to resolve completely.

What are the next steps?

If you are struggling with the effects of loose thigh skin and are searching for a way to restore smooth, tightened contours, book a no-obligation consultation with a patient advisor and explore your treatment options.

Posted January 21, 2023
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