Thigh lift

After significant weight loss, whether it is from weight loss surgery, lifestyle modification, or recuperation from pregnancy, patients are often initially focused on improving their abdomen or breasts. But the same processes that lead to excess or stretch marked abdominal or breast skin also cause loose and sagging inner thigh skin. This skin can cause difficulty with finding clothes that fit well, or chafing and irritation when walking. Alternatively, even in patients who have not had significant weight loss, the inner thigh can sometimes be the site of stubborn fat pockets that just don’t respond to diet or exercise. The thigh lift is designed to improve the contour of the inner thigh to address these types of issues. Most thigh lift procedures will also involve some liposuction of the surrounding areas to enhance the contours.

Dr. Purushottam Nagarkar, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Plano and Frisco
Dr. Nagarkar on the thigh lift:

Thigh lifts can be very satisfying procedures. However, this is an area where the body contouring trade-off is highly relevant: scar for shape. To achieve a great shape, a thigh lift incision may need to be designed all the way from the groin to just below the knee. Occasionally I can get away with a shorter incision, or even an incision hidden entirely in the groin. But the bottom line is that you don’t want to sacrifice your result and end up with excess skin left around the knees by making the scar too small.

Who is a good candidate for a thigh lift:

Most patients without any major medical problems can be good candidates for a thigh lift. The thigh lift is not a weight loss procedure, so the best candidates are patients who are at a stable goal weight, and have mostly excess skin in the inner thigh region.

How to prepare for surgery:

Dr. Nagarkar will let you know if any laboratory tests are required before your surgery. If you are a smoker, you must completely stop smoking and refrain from any nicotine-containing smoking cessation aids (such as patches or gums) for 6 weeks before and after surgery. This is critical as smoking increases the risk of significant complications. Finally, you will discuss with Dr. Nagarkar which medications and supplements you should stop taking before surgery, and which ones you can continue. It is very important to provide complete information to prevent any post-operative problems. You will get detailed written instructions for pre- and post-operative care. In addition, you will receive any postoperative prescriptions you might need so that you can have them filled by your pharmacy in advance.

What to expect on the day of surgery:

Thigh lift procedures require around 2 to 3 hours, depending how much liposuction will be performed at the same time. You should plan on having nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before surgery. Some patients may stay overnight at the hospital for observation depending on the exact procedures performed. You will need to have someone drive you to and from the surgery, and to help around the house for a few days while you get your energy back.

What to expect after surgery:


Your surgery is designed and performed to achieve the best possible result and as close to 100% symmetry as possible on the operating table. In the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery, significant swelling occurs, and this is often asymmetric in nature. Swelling will resolve slowly over the course of 2 to 3 months.

The first few days

The first night after surgery, it is critical that you are up and out of bed and walking, to reduce the risk of forming blood clots in your legs. Dr. Nagarkar will call you the day after you go home to check in with you and to answer any questions you might have.


Narcotic pain medications are usually only needed for the first few days after surgery. Afterwards, anti-inflammatory over the counter medications like Tylenol and Ibuprofen are adequate. Most of the discomfort comes from clothing rubbing on the inner thigh incisions when you are walking.

Incision care

Your incisions will be closed with absorbable sutures. You can generally start showering after your surgical drains have been removed. Until then, you should take sponge baths. You will have a special garment with foam inserts that supports your thigh incisions. You should wear this garment night and day for the first 2 weeks after surgery, and then at night for the next 2 weeks.


Most patients require drains (little plastic tubes to remove any fluid that collects underneath the skin) that are placed during surgery – these drains are removed 7 to 10 days after surgery, in the office. Before you are discharged from the hospital, we will show you how to take care of these drains at home.


You can return to your regular diet after surgery, but for the first day or two, stick with lighter meals. Anesthesia can sometimes make your digestive system a bit sensitive, and having a double cheeseburger the evening after surgery is not recommended. You should refrain from high-sodium foods because these will prolong the time required for your swelling to resolve.


Most patients will require two weeks or so off work, because of the discomfort with walking.


You will be able to go back to non-strenuous activities such as walking, using a computer, writing, and so on, immediately after surgery.


You can resume driving once you are no longer taking narcotic medications, and when you feel that you are in full control of your car. This often takes a week or two.


Aerobic exercise such as yoga, running, cycling, barre, etc., must be stopped for 3 weeks to allow the skin to heal.

Follow-up visits

You will see Dr. Nagarkar in the office usually 7 – 10 days after surgery to examine the incisions and ensure that you are healing appropriately. We will see you again at the 4-6 week mark at which time Dr. Nagarkar may clear you from any activity restrictions if you are healing appropriately. Finally you will have appointments around 3 months, 6 months and 1 year after surgery.

To meet Dr. Nagarkar in person, schedule your consultation or call us.