For patients who have suffered from severe obesity, the journey toward a thinner and healthier body can be a highly emotional one which requires determination, struggle, and discipline. In many cases, patients reach or approach their goal weight and are still frustrated by what they see in the mirror, because to them, it looks like all the fat they’ve lost has just been replaced by sagging skin. As a double board-certified plastic surgeon, I’m proud to provide the final step for so many of these patients. Today, in an effort to help patients have a better understanding of their options, I would like to highlight one particular post-bariatric (or post weight loss) surgery: thigh lifts.
The purpose of a thigh lift is to address sagging skin and, in some cases, excess fat throughout the upper legs. While aging does cause the skin throughout your face and body to become less firm over the years, most patients who have enough sagging skin on their legs to make them consider plastic surgery are people who have successfully lost a large amount of weight—often 100 pounds or more. In essence, the goal of this surgery is to re-contour the thighs by removing excess skin and giving the remaining skin a firmer, slimmer, and more youthful shape.
Depending on the amount of excess skin you have and where it is located, there are two likely options for your surgery: a medial thigh lift or an outer thigh lift. A medial thigh lift is ideal for those who need to focus on their inner thigh, and the incision is limited to the natural creases where your leg connects to your pubic area. An outer thigh lift, however, is a bit more extensive, and it involves an incision that extends from the crease of the pubic area around the top of the thigh (compare it to the outer edge of a bikini bottom). Even in this case, scars can generally be concealed within undergarments or a bathing suit, and patients generally report that they strongly prefer their new scars to the sagging skin they had before surgery. In addition to restoring firmness to the skin, for patients who also have excess fat they want to reduce in the thighs, liposuction is often used during the same surgery, so you can enjoy a more comprehensive improvement.
After your thigh lift, the recovery period will depend on how extensive your individual surgery was. Most patients return to work or their other daily activities around two or three weeks after surgery. Once you’ve healed and your swelling has resolved to reveal your finished results, you can expect to maintain the same flattering contours for many years to come. Keep in mind, however, that any future weight fluctuations can cause new sagging skin to occur, so keeping your weight consistent is important for enjoying your post-weight loss surgery results for as long as possible.
For patients who have already been through months or years of intense weight loss, and sometimes bariatric surgery, the idea of surgical body contouring can seem daunting. But as countless patients throughout the country can attest, it’s a process that can truly make the rest of the journey even more rewarding. To get started on the road toward your thigh lift or other post-weight loss plastic surgery, schedule a consultation with me, Dr. Franklyn Elliott. Or, for plastic surgery tips and more helpful information, check out my plastic surgery Facebook page as well as my profiles on Twitter and Google+.