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Adam G. Tattlebaum M.D.

Where Are The Thigh Lifts?

When browsing the internet, you will see thousands of breast surgeries, lifts, reductions, augmentations, and the like. There are tons of liposuctions, thousands of tummy tucks, facelifts, rhinoplasties, and more. But the thigh lifts are often few and far between. Why is that?

It’s because, when compared to the procedures above, thigh lifts are not as gratifying. Sometimes the “after” looks better, but not ideal. Thigh lifts belong very much in their own category for that reason.

The best comparative example I can give you is a tummy tuck. In a tummy tuck, we pull skin down which, by definition, simultaneously pulls up and tightens the pubic area. That’s a win-win. On the other hand, when we do a thigh lift, we pull up, but that procedure does nothing more than try to relax and pull down again. That is why it can be prone to healing problems, such as widening the scars, pulling the groin, or sometimes infection.

Thigh lifts are generally for patients with a great deal of weight loss. Thigh lifts can pull the skin upwards and inwards, or outwards, but the power of that pull is not enough to give a “stocking tight” leg that most patients desire. Patients must be made aware of that. I am fond of saying that skin is smarter than the doctor and will relax to a new normal.

That doesn’t mean that thigh lifts are not valuable. When patients are educated well and given honest and realistic expectations, they can be immensely gratifying.

In my practice, I tend to favor the thigh lift as a procedure unto itself because surgery performed in the groin can have a higher infection rate. Because of the motion and the pulling and tugging of the legs, it can be prone to wound separation or widening of scars, so performing it alone is safer for most patients. It is no fun to recover from a tummy tuck when your legs are already sore.

A thigh lift procedure is best suited to people with significant weight loss. The very heavy thigh tends to want to pull down, and the complication rates can be even higher. Lighter thighs fare better.

The Four Types of Thigh Lifts

There are four kinds of thigh lifts:
  1. The Crescent (inner thigh lift) removes a wedge of skin from the front to the back of the groin. Think of this as an inside-the-leg upward pull only. It works best for people with a very discrete roll in the upper inner thigh. The all-too-common mistake is to liposuction this roll which will cause it to droop and sag even more. A thigh lift is a better way to go.
  2. The second, the outer thigh lift, is like a Crescent but on the outside of the thigh. Usually brought up over the hip, it’s an attempt to raise the skin on the outside of the upper thigh. The problem is there are important attachments that limit how much lift one can get. While it may work well in the upper areas, it tends not to go down as far as the loose saddlebags and can therefore be less gratifying.
  3. The more classic thigh lift is a “T” that combines with the Crescent having a scar down the inside of the leg. I don’t love this thigh lift because it’s susceptible to healing problems at the T and the back of the Crescent and is more prone to opening when patients sit down or go to the John. Again, best used in patients who have lost a lot of weight.
  4. Gaining considerable popularity, and what I tend to favor the most is the “L” thigh plasty or “boomerang.” It first goes down the groin in the underwear line and then travels down the leg to give some vertical tightening of the frontal thigh, including some horizontal tightening in the leg, from top to bottom. It does not travel around under the buttocks, and because it is a single incision, it tends to be less prone to separation and healing issues. While it does not address laxity in the back of the leg, that can be dealt with at a second stage, with what I believe has a lower risk of healing issues than the “T.”
If you’re reading this, you will need an in-person evaluation to help determine if you have vertical laxity, horizontal laxity, or both and to assess the weight of the thigh. These will help determine the safest procedure and the one that makes the most sense for you. But I hope this thinking has been helpful.

Schedule a Thigh Lift Consultation

Dr. Adam G. Tattelbaum, MDPC, is a double-board certified plastic surgeon. He enjoys the process of teaching his patients as much as he loves performing surgeries.

If you are considering surgery and would like to know more about undergoing a thigh lift procedure call Dr.Tattelbaum’s office at contact us online.

October 14, 2022 8:19 am
Categories: Blog

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