Lower Body/Thigh Lift in New York

Frequently Asked Question

What is a lower body/thigh lift?

When a patient has excess skin and subcutaneous tissue of the thighs and buttocks, a lower body lift is performed to remove this excess tissue and improve the contour of the lateral thighs and buttocks. Although the patient may get some improvement of the lateral thighs as an added benefit from a circumferential abdominoplasty, the lateral thighs will be markedly improved with the lower body lift.

How does a lower body lift differ from a circumferential abdominoplasty?

Most surgeons use the two terms interchangeably. A circumferential abdominoplasty or a lower body lift treats the abdominal laxity with skin excision and muscle plication, and then is extended to go around to the back to address the laxity of the hip/flank regions as well as the buttocks.  Some surgeons will rotate tissue in the buttocks to augment them as well. The excised tissue often addresses the lowest back roll as well. In addition, the mons pubis laxity is also treated to improve the appearance.

When should you have a body lift or an extended abdominoplasty or a standard abdominoplasty?

The difference in the choice of operations really depends upon the extent of laxity. Many patients who have had massive weight loss (greater than 100 lbs or more) will often need a circumferential body lift to treat the laxity of the abdomen, flanks, and buttocks.  A standard abdominoplasty is performed on those individuals who have laxity confined to the abdominal region both above and below the umbilicus. These same patients also have weakness of the abdominal musculature in the midline but do not have a lot laxity elsewhere. In many cases these are women who have had children or fluctuations of their weight, but often not to the extent of a massive weight loss patient.  When the laxity extends to the hips or flank region then the incision is extended more laterally to include this tissue for excision.

When should one have an upper body lift?

An upper body lift is often performed in those individuals who have had massive weight loss and complain of upper back rolls, bra strap rolls, and lateral chest rolls. This procedure is often performed after a lower body lift.  The incision usually falls in line with the bra strap or upper back roll.  If a patient had a previous breast procedure leading to an inframammary scar, the incision for the upper body lift will often continue approximately along the same line around the back.

When should a fleur-de-lis component be added to a body lift?

A fleur-de-lis component is often added to a body lift when a patient has significant midline laxity in the upper abdomen and wants to narrow the waist a bit.  Patients who have had massive weight loss previously had expansion in a vertical and horizontal orientation. This adds another dimension to improve the overall contour of the patient’s body, but adds an additional incision in the vertical midline. I perform many fleur-de-lis circumferential abdominoplasties for the massive weight loss patients.

What is the recovery from a lower body lift?

Recovery from a lower body lift will vary. In general, most patients will need about one to two weeks to recover and be able to go back to a desk job.  My patients usually have between two and four drains that commonly are removed within the first seven to ten days. However, some patients will have them in longer.  Many patients can go back to aerobic activity within three to four weeks and heavy lifting within six to eight weeks.

Can I have multiple procedures performed at the same time as my lower body lift?

While some additional procedures like a breast augmentation or a breast lift can be performed at the same time as a body lift, I prefer many times to do the body lift alone as the first procedure for my massive weight loss patients. This procedure can take about three to four hours and sometimes longer with a fleur-de-lis pattern. Performing multiple procedures at the same time will increase the operative time and may increase the risk of morbidity.  I will add additional procedures on a case by case evaluation determined by multiple factors.

What is a medial thigh lift?

A medial thigh lift is performed for inner thigh skin redundancy and sagging. There are different types of medial thigh lifts depending upon the severity of the deformity. Commonly, as women age, the inner thigh skin becomes looser. In addition, those women who have had massive weight loss may desire improvement in this area as the volume of the inner thigh decreases. The most common incision used is a crescent excision pattern that results in a groin crease incision. The skin is incised and the excess skin and fat are removed. The skin is then “tailor tacked” to control the amount of tissue removed. With this procedure, the closer the laxity is to the excision pattern the better the result. In other words, this is best for upper medial thigh laxity and not for lower thigh laxity. Commonly, I use drains in these procedures. If a patient has more laxity that continues down the inner thigh towards the knee, then I prefer to use an incision similar to how I perform a brachioplasty (arm lift). In this case, the crescent in the groin is removed, but excision of skin along a vertical axis down the inner thigh is also performed. This provides not only tightening in the inner groin region, but also along the inner thigh down to approximately the knee region. The resulting incision is like an “L” shape.

What is a lateral thigh lift?

A lateral thigh lift is usually performed along a planned lower body lift incision. Commonly, I perform these in massive weight loss patients after I perform a body lift. The incision can run the length from the pubic region to the posterior back/gluteal region. The tissues are elevated to the incision line and excised. Often a drain is placed and is removed within a week to ten days in most cases.

Will liposuction be combined with my thigh lift?

I do not usually combine liposuction with a thigh lift, because the plastic surgery literature suggests that there is a significantly increased risk of seroma formation when these two procedures are performed together. In addition, I think that liposuction combined with an excision procedure may increase the risk of flap necrosis, or wound healing problems. I prefer to stage the liposuction and the thigh lift by doing the liposuction first, and then performing the thigh lift about four months later.

Can I just have liposuction on my thighs?

Some patients may benefit from liposuction of the thighs only. This can entail treating the lateral thighs, the inner thighs, the posterior thighs, or the entire thigh in a circumferential fashion. This is mainly limited to patients who have good skin tone or to be done as a staged procedure to de-bulk the legs prior to a formal thigh lift procedure. Post-surgical management includes that the patient wears a compression garment for several weeks after the procedure.

What is the recovery like from a thigh lift?

The recovery from a medial or lateral thigh lift will vary from patient to patient. In general, the medial thigh lift groin incision is shorter than the extended medial thigh lift or the lateral thigh lift, but patients need to take it easy for several days after surgery. Most will have drains and commonly these are removed within one week to ten days. Often patients will wear compression garments a few days after the procedure as well. Most can go back to light aerobics within about four weeks and then heavy lifting and strenuous exertion within six to eight weeks.

Do I need drains in a thigh lift?

I usually place drains during thigh lift procedures. This is because the area treated is undermined and there is a fairly high risk of fluid collections. In general, I try to keep the undermining to a minimum so that there is little to no “dead space” for fluid to accumulate. I usually remove the drains within a week to ten days for most patients. Some may have them longer.

Can I combine other procedures with a thigh lift?

It is fairly common to combine a thigh lift procedure with other surgeries. I usually base this on the patient’s overall health, the time I think it will take to complete each procedure, and the specific procedures requested. More common procedures performed in conjunction with a thigh lift are breast augmentation, breast reduction, breast lifts, and brachioplasties (arm lifts), or even liposuction of areas away from the thigh lift.


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