Expert Doctor

Outer Thigh Lift

Posted January 18, 2019

Matthew Galumbeck, MD

Virginia Beach, VA

Outer Thigh Lift

An outer thigh lift is used to sculpt the front and outer thigh by reducing fat and tapering the saggy skin. The result is a lifting of the thigh for a firmer, more aesthetically pleasing thigh. An outer thigh lift is also called a lateral thigh lift, bilateral thigh lift or a thighplasty. This type of procedure is often performed on patients who lost a massive amount of weight that resulted in excessive hanging skin. An outer thigh lift procedure can remove large amounts of fat cells, tighten sagging skin and improve the appearance of cellulite for a better contour of the upper legs.

Am I a Good Candidate for an Outer Thigh Lift?

A GOOD CANDIDATE for an outer thigh lift includes:

  • Any patient who is self-conscious about sagging skin and/or cellulite on their thighs
  • Patients with excess skin and stubborn layers of fat on the outer thigh
  • Male or female patients who have lost a significant amount of weight (either naturally or from a bariatric surgery)
  • Patients who are at a stable weight and committed to healthy diet and exercise after surgery

The following patients are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES for an outer thigh lift:

  • Patients with uncontrolled diabetes or other serious health conditions which could increase surgical risks or impact their healing process
  • Patients who have not yet met their weight loss goals
  • Patients with unrealistic expectations

How is an Outer Thigh Lift Performed?

An outer thigh lift is an outpatient procedure which is usually performed in a hospital or surgical suite. If it is combined with a butt lift or lower body lift, the patient may require a short stay in the hospital. The procedure can be performed under intravenous sedation or general anesthesia and the surgical time varies depending on the extent of the treatment.

During the procedure, an incision is made that goes from the groin crease and curve all the way around to the hip or buttock area in a “V” shape. The length of the incision depends on the patient’s needs. The surgeon will remove fat deposits and soft tissue. Liposuction may also be used to remove excess fat while helping to sculpt the region. Dissolvable sutures will be used to close the deeper tissue layers first. The subterranean sutures will be tighter than the sutures located near the top layers of skin. This method of suturing aids in supporting the entire thigh and also alleviates tension on the skin which reduces wound complications. The skin will be pulled up and excess skin will be trimmed away. Sutures, adhesive tapes or clips may be used to close the incisions and bandages will cover the wound.

Alternative Procedures

Patients with excess fat and skin on the upper portion of the inner thigh may require an alternative procedure such as an inner thigh lift. This type of procedure targets the front and inner thigh region with an incision that begins at the groin, extends downward and curves around to the back of the thigh.

A lower body lift can benefit a person who has excess fat and skin all around the lower body. This type of procedure targets the thighs, hips and buttocks with an incision that begins at the groin and extends along the hips to the back.

What is the Cost of an Outer Thigh Lift?

The cost of an outer thigh lift can range from $8000 to $12,500 depending on the patient’s goals, the type of anesthesia used and the surgeon’s skills. If an outer thigh lift is performed with other procedures, the cost will be significantly increased.

Recovery and Downtime

After an outer thigh lift, patients can expect to see some swelling and bruising along the thigh and buttock area at the start of the RECOVERY period. A compression garment will be placed around the treatment area to minimize swelling, support the thighs and help the skin retract to the new contours. This garment will be worn 24 hours a day for up to 3 weeks. Patients will not be permitted to sit directly on the buttocks since this can put pressure on the wound and compromise healing. When resting, patients should use pillows to take the pressure off their legs and position the body so that the thigh tissue is not stretched. The doctor will also encourage walking as soon as possible to help speed the healing process and decrease the risk of blood clots. Patients should avoid squatting, climbing stairs and strenuous activities for the first 2-3 weeks. Drainage tubes are sometimes placed at the incision site for the removal of excess fluids. The doctor will instruct the patient on how to clean and care for these tubes and incisions. The patient may remove the garment, shower and gently wash the thighs at 2 days post-op. A follow-up appointment with the surgeon will occur about one week after surgery. At this time, the drainage tubes and external sutures may be removed.

Most patients can return to work after two or three weeks of DOWNTIME. They can also begin to sit on the thighs with the use of pillows. Patients may continue to have some residual swelling but most of the swelling should subside by 4 weeks. After 6-8 weeks, the patient may resume regular exercise and activities.


Depending on the degree of skin laxity, patients may not see immediate results due to the swelling, bruising and compression garment. As the swelling begins to subside, patients should notice a slimmer and tighter upper leg appearance. Patients can expect to see the final results about one year after the scar tissue has settled into a more natural tone. While a patient does not have to be at their ideal weight before having this procedure, they should be at a comfortable weight that they can easily maintain. It is important to understand that significant weight fluctuations will cause the results of an outer thigh lift to be annulled. However, a patient who gradually loses some weight after the procedure will improve their shape and contour. An appropriate amount of weight which can be lost following the procedure is approximately 10 to 15 pounds. The results of an outer thigh lift can last a long time but, as a person ages, the skin will become lax again.

Limitations of Outer Thigh Lift

The limitations of an outer thigh lift include:

  • It is only for patients with excessive skin and fat
  • The amount of skin tightening that can occur on other areas of the upper legs
  • Patients with excess skin and fat who only want liposuction of the fat
  • The procedure may only make mild improvements to cellulite

Risks of Outer Thigh Lift

The risks associated with an outer thigh lift include:

  • Infection
  • Seroma
  • Hematoma
  • Bleeding or blood clots
  • Skin necrosis
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Suture eruption
  • Poor wound healing that results in wound separation
  • Numbness or changes in sensation
  • Over, or under, correction
  • Contour irregularities including dimpling, asymmetry or loose skin
  • Excessive scarring
  • Scar widening due to an improper suturing technique

Make Sure to Choose the Right Procedure

An outer thigh lift can remove stubborn pockets of fat on the outer thigh region, and tighten the skin, to provide more youthful looking upper legs. This is not a procedure for patients looking for only fat reduction. An outer thigh lift is reserved for those who also need excess skin removed. Patients should know that an outer thigh lift does not treat the inner thigh area nor does it treat the buttocks. Patients looking for overall improvement, on the lower half of the body, in their skin laxity may benefit from a lower body lift. When considering an outer thigh lift procedure, prospective patients should consult with a board-certified surgeon who performs the procedure often. It is imperative that the patient clearly expresses any concerns so the doctor can choose the right procedure to meet the desired goals. Subsequently, the doctor may suggest additional treatments to help the patient attain his or her goals.


Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team – SP

Based on an exclusive interview with Matthew Galumbeck, MD in Virginia Beach, VA

Article Last Updated on January 18, 2019