What is thigh reduction?

Thigh reduction (sometimes called “thigh lift”) is a surgical procedure that involves removing excess skin and fatty tissue from the thigh area. This procedure can help improve the contour of the medial portion of the upper leg.

Sagging and wobbly thigh skin can be a result of weight loss. It can also be a result of the natural ageing process that causes skin to lose its elasticity. Both men and women will often find that the thighs can lose their firmness when the layers of muscle and fat become thinner. A thigh lift can help tighten and restore these areas, resulting in a firmer and more youthful look.

Thigh reduction can be performed as part of a total body lift procedure, liposculpture procedure or liposuction procedure.

Any scarring from thigh reduction surgery is well concealed in the inner thigh and groin areas. A well-trained and experienced Cosmetic Surgeon will pay special attention to their surgical technique so scars are minimised.

Who gets thigh reduction surgery?

People who choose to undergo thigh reduction surgery usually have large amounts of skin or fatty tissue in the thigh area. In most cases, this is due to ageing or a major weight loss. This excess skin results in chafing between the legs, making some activities and wearing certain clothes challenging.

In many cases, the procedure is done in combination with liposuction in an effort to further empty the loose skin of any fat. This allows the Cosmetic Surgeon to only remove skin while preserving all of the important structures in the patient's legs such as nerves, blood vessels and lymphatics.

Candidates for thigh reduction surgery usually:

  • Have sagging skin on their upper legs and wobbly inner thighs they want to reduce
  • Are physically fit and well
  • Have excess skin on their inner and outer thighs and buttocks

How is thigh reduction surgery performed?

Thigh reduction surgery is performed with a general anaesthetic. Some patients choose day surgery, but most stay overnight in hospital. An incision is made along the upper inner thigh area, but in some cases may continue to the buttock fold or the groin line.

Excess fat and skin are removed through the incisions. In some cases liposuction will also be used. The wounds are then sutured or stapled shut, sometimes with permanent internal anchoring sutures, keeping all the incisions hidden by clothing. Thigh reduction surgery takes between 2 to 3 hours.

An alternative thigh reduction technique involves making an incision on the inner thigh from the groin down to slightly above the knee only. Skin and fatty tissue are removed before the skin is sutured together. 

Regardless of the location of the surgical incisions, your Cosmetic Surgeon will make every effort to ensure the scars will be as inconspicuous as possible. Dissolving sutures are usually used to close the incisions. Some patients need to have drainage tubes in place after the procedure. After thigh reduction surgery you will need to wear compression garments for 2 to 6 weeks.

While you will notice the results of your thigh lift immediately, the final effect may not be apparent for a few months.

Key facts about thigh reduction

  • Thigh reduction surgery is performed under general anaesthesia and takes approximately 2 to 3 hours. Most Cosmetic Surgeons hide the incision lines in discreet areas. You will need to wear compression garments for 2 to 6 weeks after the procedure.
  • Recovery after thigh lift surgery varies between 2 and 6 weeks.
  • Post-surgery, the treated area will become swollen and bruised. While any bruising gradually dissipates and the patient will see changes to the area as soon as the compression garment is removed, it will take weeks, and possibly months, for all of the swelling to resolve and to your new thighs.
  • Thigh reduction surgery will cause bruising and discomfort which usually makes patient’s stiff and sore. This discomfort can be controlled with oral pain medication. During recovery it is vital that patient drinks plenty of fluid and wait at least 3 weeks before participating in heavy exercise.
  • Depending on the size of the thigh reduction procedure, most patients take 1 to 2 weeks off work. Patient’s can resume driving when they feel comfortable and are no longer taking strong pain medication. In most cases this is 2 weeks following surgery.

What are the risks and complications of thigh reduction surgery?

Every surgery has risks including:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Bleeding
  • Changes in skin sensation
  • Damage to deeper structures
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
  • Fat necrosis
  • Healing issues
  • Infection
  • Major wound separation
  • Pain
  • Scarring
  • Skin contour irregularities
  • Skin discolouration and swelling
  • Skin sensitivity

Thigh reduction surgery specific risks and complications include:

  • Asymmetry: Prior to surgery, your thighs will be slightly different. During your procedure, your Cosmetic Surgeon will try to minimise the asymmetry between your thighs. However, it is important to note that some degree of minor asymmetry is quite common. For most patients the asymmetry is minor. Your Cosmetic Surgeon will discuss this in details and your initial consultation.
  • Scarring: It is inevitable you will have some scarring after surgery. Your Cosmetic Surgeon will take great care to minimise the scarring and to ensure scars are as discreet as possible. Medial thigh lift scars can migrate downwards and in some women can cause distortion of the vagina. It is important to note this is rare and usually due to the lack of surgical experience. Some scarring after surgery is inevitable. Please ask your surgeon about any concerns you may have.

Post surgery thigh reduction care

Thigh reduction surgery can be performed as day surgery or with an overnight hospital stay. You will be able to resume light activities within the first 7 days. Full activities can usually be resumed 3 to 4 weeks after surgery. You will need to take at least 1 to 2 weeks off work.

Patient recovery from thigh reduction surgery can vary from 2 to 6 weeks, subject to your daily level of physical activity. For 6 weeks after the procedure, you should avoid heavy lifting. After surgery you will need to wear compression garments for 2 to 6 weeks. This assists in your healing process and decreases the possibility of fluid build-up. Most Cosmetic Surgeons use dissolvable sutures that do not require removal.

Any swelling or bruising is usually only mild to moderate and will disappear after 2 weeks. Most patients report having minimal pain after the procedure, which disappears after 2 to 3 days.

While most thigh reduction patients are comfortable to drive at 1-2 weeks post surgery, some patients take longer to feel comfortable driving.

To find out if thigh reduction surgery is appropriate for you consult a Cosmetic Surgeon

In your initial thigh reduction consultation, your Cosmetic Surgeon will ask about your body image, lifestyle, health and medical history. They assess your skin tone and thighs and discuss the most appropriate surgical technique for your condition. The Cosmetic Surgeon may also take your measurements and photographs, for the purpose of planning your surgery and monitoring changes of appearance afterwards.

The best candidates for thigh reduction surgery are physically healthy people who want to improve the way they look. It is very important to be clear about your expectations of the thigh reduction procedure, to understand the recovery process and the likely results you will achieve in the long term. We suggest you make a shortlist and consult with a few Cosmetic Surgeons. You can find the best Australian Thigh Reduction Surgeons here 

Important to know

So you can make an informed decision, your elected surgeon will discuss the possible risks associated with thigh reduction. Although the majority of patients do not experience these complications, it's important to understand how they can be managed in the event that they occur. 

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Mr Guy Watts

Guy Watts

30 Reviews

Plastic Surgeon
Western Australia, Australia

Scared Perth September 3rd, 2016

Dr Guy Watts is an absolute perfectionist. He provided me with every bit of information I could possibly need. This was the hardest yet best decision I have made for myself since losing 55kg naturally. The attention to detail and after care have been second to none. I would recommend Dr Watts to anyone who expects nothing less than the best. He will do everything in his power to achieve the best results for any of his patients. I couldn't be happier with my results and it's only 4 weeks since my total body lift.
Dr. Ellis Choy

Ellis Choy

203 Reviews

Plastic Surgeon
New South Wales, Australia

Irmgard July 4th, 2014

I have always had problems with my weight throughout my life and I finally had to see a specialist to have lap band surgery. After successfully losing over 40kgs and my weight being stable for a couple of years, I had added problems with the excess flabby skin on my thighs. It caused more pressure on my arthritic knees and back and there were problems with keeping this area free of rashes and infections. I also had to buy bigger pant to fit the excess skin in, so I decided that I needed to do something about it and my Bariatric Surgeon recommended Dr Ellis Choy. On my first consultation with Dr Choy for discussing the thigh reductions possibility, he made me feel comfortable and relaxed as he explained the procedure and showed me what I would look like after the procedure. He also explained the risks involved in having the surgery, that this surgery was major and time wise and answered all my questions making me feel confident and informed about this procedure. I decided to go ahead and all paperwork was completed and I was booked into hospital. I then had problems with my private health insurer regarding this procedure as being for “cosmetic” purposes and not for health reasons. Dr Choy and his staff were fantastic and helped lessen the stress of having to explain and provided detailed paper works for the health insurer to finally agree to pay for the surgery to go ahead. Dr Choy and his team were very professional and reassuring on the day of the surgery and everything went well. Unfortunately I had a few problems with my wound opening up after I left the hospital and had to have surgery to correct the problem with lots of visits from the community nurses until the all clear was given. The scar line is great and there is no hint of the problems encountered. Dr Choy and his staff were very supportive for what had happened but I knew there were risks involved with any surgery and it was no one’s fault as sometimes these things happen. It is now eighteen months since having this thigh reduction and my scar line is fantastic and my legs look better than I thought the outcome would be. No one can see the scar when I’m wearing dresses and now I can buy pants the right size. It has also lessened the pain in my knees and back and I am very happy with the outcome. I’m forever grateful for Dr Choy’s expertise and wonderful care in sculpturing my thighs. I can’t thank Dr Choy and his team enough for giving a new lease of life. Thank you so much!