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Thomas P. Sterry, MD

Thigh Lift

Thigh Lift

If you have any of the following concerns about your thighs, you may be an excellent candidate for thigh lift surgery in New York City with Dr. Sterry:

To find out if a thigh lift is right for you, request a consultation with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Sterry in NYC or call (212) 249-4020.

Do you dread bathing suit season? A thigh lift could be just what you're looking for.

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Dr. Thomas P. Sterry

Thigh lifts can smooth the contours of your upper legs, giving you firmer, sleeker thighs that make you eager to get your swimsuit on and enjoy the sun. A thigh lift, also known as thighplasty, is a surgical procedure that removes excess skin and tissue from the upper legs. You may need an outer or inner thigh lift depending on your problem areas, or Dr. Sterry may find that you are a good candidate for both.

With outer thigh lifts, which generally come as part of lower body lift surgeries, Dr. Sterry will concentrate on the buttocks and "saddlebags." This procedure typically has the most dramatic affects. An inner thigh lift can be trickier, but sometimes it is the best option to achieve the optimal result for the patient. It may also be performed as part of a lower body lift if the patient is right for it.

Thigh lift surgery may be part of a lower body lift that includes a tummy tuck and buttock lift, or may be performed alone depending on the wants and needs of the patient. Inner and outer thigh lifts can provide the final enhancement for a patient who has already had a tummy tuck or who simply has extra skin, dimpling or reduced elasticity in this particular area. After consulting with Dr. Sterry, you can determine the best course of action for your unique situation.

Dr. Sterry performs thigh lift surgery in New York City to tighten your skin & contour your legs, getting you ready for swimsuit season.

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Sterry today, and leave your self-consciousness behind when bathing suit season begins. You and Dr. Sterry will discuss all the thigh lift options and costs, and he will determine whether you are an appropriate candidate for this surgery. Dr. Sterry and his team believe in giving each prospective patient the time and attention to make the most informed decision possible. He will listen to your wants and needs, evaluate your goals and decide what the best course of action is to achieve the overall look you desire.

Thigh Lift FAQ

What is a thigh lift?

A thigh lift or thighplasty is a plastic surgery procedure that removes excess skin and tissue from the upper legs. There are separate procedures to lift the outer and inner thighs.

Who is a candidate for a thigh lift?

You may be a good candidate for a thigh lift if you have lost a significant amount of weight, or if your thighs have reduced skin elasticity due to the aging process.

What does an outer thigh lift do?

An outer thigh lift, which I normally perform as part of a lower body lift, concentrates on lifting the buttocks and saddlebag area. There is some benefit to the inner thighs, but it is not dramatic. Some patients will still need an inner thigh lift.

How have thigh lift techniques been refined over the years?

The plastic surgeon who first described the operation known as ‘lower body lift’ in 1989 was the late Ted Lockwood, MD. The procedure originally included a tummy tuck, buttock lift, and inner and outer thigh lift.

One woman in her 50s retired to Florida and wanted to be able to hang out around the pool with her girlfriends.

Dr. Lockwood told me himself that he stopped doing inner thigh lifts with a lower body lift; he found that it created too much stress in the pubic area, which often led to wound complications. Most plastic surgeons took his lead and will not perform an inner thigh lift as part of a lower body lift.

Do you ever perform an inner thigh lift with a lower body lift?

Once in a while, I'll do the whole thing if it looks like it's the right patient for it.

Do you ever perform just an inner and outer thigh lift at one time?

Yes, sometimes I will perform a total thigh lift. Usually it's for a patient who has had a tummy tuck done by someone else. Once in a while, we'll have people who are not bariatric patients and want their thighs lifted.

One woman in her 50s retired to Florida and wanted to be able to hang out around the pool with her girlfriends. She said, ‘I can't go out with these thighs!’

I perform an old-fashioned thigh lift in very much the same way as I do an inner thigh lift, but I extend the incision around toward the back and complete the buttock and outer thigh lift. Unlike a lower body lift, there's no tummy tuck involved.

Do many plastic surgeons perform inner thigh lifts?

No. One colleague says he doesn't perform them because he has a bad neck. An inner thigh lift is a technically challenging operation on a very small space. I have to do every stitch—my assistant can't help me sew because we'll end up sticking each other.

But it really is a two-person job because he or she has to hold everything in place so I can get the sutures in. I get a crick in my neck that lasts for a few days after I do an inner thigh lift.

How is an inner thigh lift performed?

An inner or medial thigh lift involves taking away a crescent-shaped piece of skin from the inner portion of the thigh, right up in a very personal area. The length of the incision depends on how much skin is going to be taken away.

When is an inner thigh lift usually performed?

If a patient is going to have other body contouring surgery, such as an upper body or lower body lift, I usually save the inner thigh lift for last. There are several reasons for this.

For one, an inner thigh lift is painful. Most body contouring procedures don't really hurt that much. But a thigh lift will definitely get the patient's attention.

Where is an inner thigh lift incision placed?

In the front, an inner thigh lift incision essentially follows the contour of a g-string—that is, it descends from the lower abdomen (the lower portion of a tummy tuck scar), down either side of the pubic mound, right next to the vulva. Then the incision continues toward the buttock crease. I use self-dissolving sutures so there are no stitches to remove.

Is an inner thigh lift scar visible?

With the incision I've just described, the scar should not be visible from behind and there is no aspect of this inner thigh lift scar that goes down the thigh. If you're wearing panties, the scar is not visible at all.

The only issue with doing thigh lift procedures on men is that they don't tolerate the post-operative pain as well as women patients do.

If you were able to cut an imaginary person in half and look just at the inside of the thigh, the crescent removed during an inner thigh lift is all on the upper end of the thigh. All of the skin from below gets pulled up and sewn right next to the vulva.

The sutures have to be anchored properly because in the old days, it was possible for the labia majora to get pulled down the side of the thighs.

Do you also perform thigh lift surgery on men?

Yes. The outer thigh lift is typically less important in men because of the way men's bodies distribute fat—the skin on the outer thighs doesn't tend to hang loosely after weight loss the way it does in women.

But men's inner thighs get the same type of rolls as women's thighs do after they've lost a lot of weight. Doing a thigh lift on men is a much simpler operation—you don't have to worry about the labia majora as you do in women. And men's hair pattern tends to hide scars very well. Usually, nobody can tell if a man has had a thigh lift.

The only issue with doing thigh lift procedures on men is that they don't tolerate the post-operative pain as well as women patients do.

How can an inner thigh lift slim the thighs if the incision is just in the groin?

An inner thigh lift makes the skin on the thighs tighter, even though there's no incision down the thigh, because your thighs are shaped like a cone—they're thicker at the top than at the bottom. By pulling the skin up, by definition it gets a little bit tighter because the skin has a larger circumference to cover.

Does an inner thigh lift ever involve an incision down the thigh?

Yes, but I do not like to do an inner thigh lift where the incision goes down the inner thigh. I try to keep the incision up in the groin area.

There are some patients who need an inner thigh lift where the incision goes down the thigh, as if you had cardiac bypass surgery and they took out a vein from your leg. I really don't like to do that because the incision is very painful and involves an increased risk of complications.

How long should you wait between a lower body lift and an inner thigh lift?

For most patients, I do an outer thigh lift as part of a lower body lift. Then, three or four months later, we come back and do the inner thighs. And they're pretty happy.

Does a thigh lift replace liposuction?

No. Liposuction should not be considered a replacement for a thigh lift. However, in many cases, I will do liposuction as part of an inner thigh lift to contour the upper leg.

How long does an inner thigh lift take?

It used to take me up to four hours to do an inner thigh lift. But I've just made a new revision to the way I do the procedure, so it takes me about three hours now.

Does a thigh lift require a hospital stay?

Yes. You can expect to spend one night in the hospital after a thigh lift. I want to be sure you're able to get out of bed and walk around before you go home.

What kind of anesthesia is used for a thigh lift?

A thigh lift is performed under general anesthesia; you will be asleep during the entire procedure.

What should you expect immediately after a thigh lift?

There will be some discomfort after your surgery. For the first 24 hours, you will have a catheter so you don't have to get up to go to the bathroom. You will also have a patient-controlled morphine pump you can use to ease your pain.

I typically will place a drain in the groin for 3-4 days following surgery, and you will need to wear a compression garment soon after your procedure.

What makes recovery from an inner thigh lift challenging?

After an inner thigh lift, patients can lie down OK, and can stand up and walk around OK. But they can't sit—which means they can't get from the lying down position to the standing up position. And it often means they can't go to the bathroom very easily. They really have a hard time.

I tell my patients all of this up front. Of those who decide to go ahead with an inner thigh lift, 50% will tell me that I overstated the case—that it's not really as painful as I made it out to be. And just about all of them are very happy that they did it.

The patients knew what they were getting into, and they're glad that they have sleeker thighs now.

How long is the recovery after an inner thigh lift?

You can expect to be uncomfortable for 10 days after an inner thigh lift. Most people don't go back to work for 2-3 weeks. Even if you're sedentary in your job, you've got to sit—and that's the one position that's difficult after an inner thigh lift. Many people can't afford to take that much time off work.

What results can you expect from a thigh lift?

Your thighs will have a much younger, more shapely contour. After an outer thigh lift, you can expect a significant reduction in cellulite and your saddlebags will be smoothed away. An inner thigh lift will free you of loose, sagging skin—many bariatric patients consider this the finishing touch of their transformation to a slimmer, sexier body.

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Dr. Thomas P. Sterry

Thomas Sterry, MD, is a board-certified New York City plastic surgeon with over a decade of experience. At his inviting, boutique-style practice in Manhattan, he focuses on each patient's unique needs and aesthetic goals so that he can provide the most attractive and natural-looking outcomes possible.

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