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Is Thigh Lift Surgery better than Liposuction after massive Weight Loss?

Posted on: August 30th, 2016
thigh reduction or thigh lift surgery or liposuction

What should you know about Thighplasty or Thigh Reduction Surgery

Thigh Lift Surgery  |  Thighplasty  |   Weight loss  |   Thigh Reduction Surgery |  Liposuction

The stubborn fat on your thighs is refractory to most traditional weight loss techniques. It is no surprise that a lot of individuals opt for cosmetic or plastic surgery procedures just to get rid of the excess body fat that lingers on their thighs after weight changes – and to remove the redundant skin folds that remains after massive weight loss.

But how many individuals actually achieve their desired goal of having well-toned, firmer looking thighs after getting fitter and losing weight?

The answer will depend on a variety of factors, including but not limited to:

  • a combination of genetics
  • fitness
  • BMI (body mass index)
  • your muscle-to-fat ratio
  • the degree to which your skin has been stretched due to obesity or weight changes
  • the level of collagen and elastin in your skin
thigh reduction or thigh lift surgery or liposuction


Is a thigh reduction (thigh lift) procedure better than liposuction for weight loss patients suffering from redundant, baggy or crepey-looking skin?

It has been observed that most massive weight loss ambitions have an unintended result: crepey-looking skin or redundant skin folds.

People feel happy about their weight change but unhappy with the unpleasing visual results of saggy skin – particularly evident on the upper arms or triceps, the abdomen, the breast area, back and thighs.

Inner and Outer Thighs: Liposuction or Thigh Reduction?

Advancing age and metabolic changes (due to relatively quick weight loss after long-term obesity) are also part of a lack of skin firmness in the thigh area.  Hormonal and genetic factors can also leave you with skin that seems to ‘drape’ down your thighs.

Skin that rubs against your other skin areas can cause chaffing and skin infections, and can also impede your comfort when participating in exercise or sports – or even just everyday walking.

Liposuction can work for some men and women who have residual fat in their thighs – who are wanting purely contouring – but if saggy, crepey skin is a factor, then you’ll likely require a Thighplasty (Thigh Reduction Surgery) to get firmer thighs.

Top Body Contouring Plastic Surgeon Dr Geoff Barnett can help you assess whether liposuction alone, or combined thigh reduction procedures, can get you the thigh  appearance you are wanting after massive weight loss or hormonal changes.

If weight changes have left your skin looking less elastic and less aesthetically pleasing, you may want to explore thigh reduction surgery or combined surgery and liposuction to get firmer lower body contours.

Modern plastic surgery techniques, liposuction and innovative procedures like Thigh Reduction Surgery can help to restore your body’s skin resilience by reducing redundant skin and excess fat stores that are resistant to exercise regimes and healthy nutrition changes.


Thighplasty: Thigh Reduction or Thigh Lift Surgery – What should you know about it?

Thighplasty (also referred to as thigh lift or thigh reduction surgery) is a surgical method of reshaping and contouring the thighs and enhancing the overall aesthetic look of your body.

Having a thighplasty or thigh lift procedure can:

  • allow you to more comfortably wear clothing or swimsuits (although you will have a scar).
  • move about more easily in your day to day activities
  • stop feeling like you want to cover up your thighs even in summer
  • help reduce your susceptibility to chronic skin infections and painful chaffing

The reason Liposuction may not work for you after significant weight changes is that you you can’t exercise away loose skin; and many post-weight loss patients have saggy, over-stretched ‘redundant’ skin folds and crepey thigh skin.

Unlike liposuction, Thighplasty does not only involve the removal of extra fat; instead it focuses on all important cosmetic aspects such as fat proportion, muscle contour, elasticity and tonicity of skin.

It is noteworthy that Thighplasty can be performed along the inner as well as outer aspect of thighs.



Who are suitable candidates for Thighplasty?

Despite amazing results, thigh lift surgery is not for everyone.

Certain factors can make a person more likely candidate for this procedure; these are:

  • Presence of extra or loose skin on thighs
  • People who have an overall healthy body weight but saggy/ chubby thighs

Thighplasty is a fairly complex procedure that requires the candidate to be healthy and at a stable weight for best results and to help encourage a healthy, optimal recovery process.

If you only want to get rid of excessive thigh fat, have good skin elastin and collagen, and haven’t had major weight changes over the years – you may be able to opt for liposuction on it’s own.  In general, whilst liposuction is also a serious surgery, it is less invasive than a full thigh reduction (with smaller incisions for the liposuction cannula).

Also, liposuction was developed particularly for the removal of stubborn fat that doesn’t go away with exercise and diet modifications – what’s called “exercise resistant or stubborn fat stores.”

Removal of fat in small quantities can be performed during Thighplasty procedure.

But if there is too much fat to be removed, then the Thigh Reduction/Thigh Lift procedure may be performed in two stages; such as:

  • Firstly, liposuction that is ideally performed several months before the Thighplasty or surgical reduction of the thigh.
  • Secondly, after recovery from the earlier liposuction, surgical excision of excess skin and fat tissues

What should you know about the Thigh Lift procedure?

  • Thighplasty begins with an incision along the most subtle areas of thigh.
  • The length and depth of incision depends upon the amount of skin available and extent of procedure.
  • The excess droopy skin and fat can be removed via incisions, to make your skin tight and fully-contoured.

These are the different types of thigh-lift surgeries:

  • For inner thigh lifting, an incision is made along the groin area, extending downwards sometimes to the knees.
  • Outer thigh lifting may involve incisions in the tummy or hip area as well.

The Spiral Thighplasty

  • There is another newer variety of thigh lift which is known as spiral Thighplasty.
  • In this procedure, a Surgeon mainly targets the inner, outer, front and back of thigh
  • The incision for a spiral thighplasty surgery is often introduced below the buttock fold, it then extends up to the junction between thigh and pubic area (also known as groin crease).

Whatever type of Thighplasty procedure you have, Dr Geoff Barnett fully customises his surgery approaches to meet your anatomy and appearance goals.  It is very important, however, to maintain realistic expectations about what any body contouring or thigh reshaping procedure can – and cannot – accomplish. And remember, there WILL be a scar, although many patients prefer having a scar to having chronic skin conditions and chaffing pain.

Hospital Procedures under General Anesthesia

Thighplasty surgery is always carried out under general anesthesia, in a fully accredited Hospital. Your Patient Care Coordinator or Dr Barnett can give you more details in a consultation, including what to expect, along with surgical risks.

Recovery Process:

The recovery period can be a challenging time for any patient.

You will often have to wear compression garments day and night for several weeks after your surgery.

You will need to limit or postpone many of your day-to-day activities for the recommended period of time (details are given to you during your pre-surgery consultation or pre-surgery preparation meeting).

Once you feel comfortable, but not before your Surgeon advises you are cleared to do so, you’ll be able to do very light exercises including walking (slowly).

Before you can return to vigorous exercises or heavy housework, or lifting children, you may need to wait a minimum of at least 4 to 6 weeks.



Common adverse effects after the procedure include discomfort, pain, difficulty sleeping, and swelling of thighs.

There are other risks to surgery,some of which are life threatening, so you’ll be given full information of surgical risks during a consultation; but thousands of people have plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery including thigh lifts and for healthy, suitable candidates, it’s a relatively safe procedure so long as it’s done by a qualified Surgeon in a fully accredited Australian hospital with an experienced Anaesthetist.

The extent of swelling of the thigh area and surrounding tissues (including the hips, abdomen, groin or pelvis area) depends upon how intensive the procedure is, and it can take a longer time to heal.

Most swelling subsides within a month but complete healing or recovery may take 6 months or more.

Can you combine other surgeries with thigh lift?

If your Plastic Surgeon believes it is in your best interest to do so and you are really wanting to combine procedures, then occasionally a thigh lift procedure can be combined with other surgical procedures for contouring of buttocks, arms and stomach.

Combination surgeries are becoming common, however, many Plastic Surgeons prefer not to combine too many procedures at once. There are several reasons why separate procedures may be best for you, including:

  • reducing the length of time you’ll need to be under Anesthesia and hence related risks such as DVT risks
  • less difficulties during recovery (if several areas have been treated in one surgical session, it can be very uncomfortable during the recovery process, impeding sleep and day to day movements, which carries other risks)
  • too many procedures at once can delay recovery time – slow recovery periods and too much ‘out of daily life’ time can sometimes lead to feeling down or even depressed after surgery

It is important to discuss these factors with your Surgeon and the Surgical Support Team so you know what to expect.

You’ll also want to read about recovery (emotional ups and downs of your post-op healing period).

In some regions, 70% Thighplasty surgeries are combined with – or done in sequence with – other cosmetic body contouring procedures.

  • Thigh Lift vs. Lower Body Lift: Lower body lift surgery can be many different procedures which are customised to meet the needs of each patient.
  • Lower Body Lift surgery may involve a lifting or skin reduction and tissue tightening of both the inner and outer thighs along with buttock lifting and abdominoplasty; whereas a thigh lift only deals with the thigh area, typically the inner thigh area where chaffing is most common.
  • Lower body lift is more suitable for people who lose weight exceptionally or have skin which is very saggy or who also have abdominal surgery.

Risk of Complications after Thighplasty:

As compared to other plastic surgery procedures, thigh lift produces more visible scars.

They do fade over time, however, and some options – such as silicone strips and Fraxel laser treatments if determined to be optimal reduction technique by your Surgeon.

Extended procedures require long incisions which may leave longer and more visible scars, and some people are more prone to scarring (or visible scarring such as keloids).

It is important to keep in mind that no surgical method can stop the natural aging process or leave your thighs looking like someone much younger or who has never had a weight change or sagging skin.  Whilst you’ll have far better thigh contours after surgery, you will need to keep your expectations realistic about what body contouring and thigh lift surgery can – and cannot – accomplish.

In addition, if you want to maintain surgical results for longer time, you must adopt a healthy lifestyle and maintain a stable weight.

Want to see before and after thigh reduction photos? Our nurses are happy to show you body lift surgery results including thigh lift procedures in a free consultation.

Or schedule a surgical consultation directly with Dr Geoff Barnett (fees apply to surgical consultations) and find out what your best options are for sagging thigh skin or redundant skin after significant weight loss or gastric surgery for obesity.


  1. Nayar, H. S., Kling, R. E., MacIsaac, Z. M., Katzel, E. B., Coon, D., James, I. B., … & Gusenoff, J. A. (2013). Medial Thighplasty in the Massive Weight Loss Population: Risk Factors and Complications in 106 Patients. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 132(4S-1), 71.
  2. Bertheuil, N., Thienot, S., Huguier, V., Ménard, C., & Watier, E. (2014). Medial thighplasty after massive weight loss: are there any risk factors for postoperative complications?. Aesthetic plastic surgery, 38(1), 63-68.
  3. Afshari, A., Gupta, V., Nguyen, L., Shack, R. B., Grotting, J. C., & Higdon, K. K. (2016). Preoperative Risk Factors and Complication Rates of Thighplasty: Analysis of 1,493 Patients. Aesthetic Surgery Journal, sjv275.
  4. Bertheuil, N., Thienot, S., Chaput, B., Varin, A., & Watier, E. (2015). Quality-of-life assessment after medial thighplasty in patients following massive weight loss. Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 135(1), 67e-73e.
  5. Garcia, E. B., Gurgel, A., Sallum, N., Pedroso, J. C. M., Tedesco, A. C. B., Takassi, G., … & Ferreira, L. M. (2013). How To Reduce Thighplasty Complications Using the Boomerang Technique. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 132(4S-1), 162-163.

Dr Barnett is highly skilled in skin and face procedures and complex Plastic & Cosmetic Surgeries including:

Please phone (03) 8849 1400 or Contact Us if you would like an appointment or further information.