A thigh lift is a helpful surgical procedure that can transform the appearance of your upper legs – particularly after massive weight loss. It gets rid of excess fat and sagging skin on your thighs.
Dr Carmen Munteanu is a Specialist plastic surgeon and Thigh lift expert in Melbourne, Australia.
Download Dr Carmen’s Guide to Thigh Lift and Excess Skin Reduction
Types of Thigh Lift
There are various types of thigh lift surgeries like Inner Thigh Lift or Medial Thigh Lift, Outer Thigh Lift or Bilateral Thigh Lift, Vertical Thigh Lift, Mini Thigh Lift and Spiral Thigh Lift.
These different thigh lifts are customised to suit your unique needs and concerns after having a consultation with your plastic surgeon. You might have already researched enough about the surgery, saved up a lot of money and imagined how you will look post-surgery. However, there is one thing people ignore completely and that is the post-surgery recovery period. It is important to be fully informed about taking care of yourself post-surgery.
In this article, you will learn more about the recovery timeline, pre and post-surgical care.
Dr Carmen’s Before and After Thigh Lift Patient Photo
Click to see more Before and After Thigh Lift Images of Real Patients of top thigh lift surgeon Dr Carmen Munteanu
6 Recovery Best Practices
Post-surgery is always a time for investing in your own healing, this will give you faster more effective result –less swelling or pain, better movement, and more effective scar reduction.
- Swelling is very normal; this will cause difficulty with muscle movements and general stiffness of gait.
- Daily showering is OK during the hospital stay once the drain tubes have been removed. Showers should always be brief and warm (but not hot).
- Scar minimisation tapes encouraged for 2 – 6 months then change to silicone cream or tape.
- Driving is discouraged for up to 3 weeks post-surgery. Often due to several factors – pain or stiffness, use of strong painkillers, lack of concentration and strength.
- Gentle short walks can commence 10-14 days post op, as tolerated. Distance should be no longer that 15 minutes unless advised by the clinic. Walks can be daily or even twice daily, again as tolerated, this will also depend on how sore or swollen you feel.
- Wear your Support Garments – Dr Carmen firmly believes in fitted shapewear post-surgery and is insistent that it is worn for the first 6 months post op, both night and day.
Recovery Timeline of Thigh Lift
First Day after Thigh Lift Surgery
The surgery will be performed under general anaesthesia. Hence, you will usually feel sluggish, tired and nauseous after the thigh lift surgery. It is completely normal and can last for a few hours to a couple of days. Your thighs will be completely dressed and covered by a compression garment. Drainage tubes will be attached to your thighs and are usually removed before leaving hospital. It is normal to feel extremely sore and stiff in your lower body. Dr Carmen will ask you to start walking in the hospital room for a few minutes to keep your circulation going.
All of Dr Carmen’s thigh lift incision sites are secured with Dermabond, Preneo and Mefix – a white fabric dressing that can be lightly showered and patted dry with a clean towel. Dr Carmen’s liposuction sites are often covered with film dressings.
2-3 Days after Thigh Lift Surgery
After a few days, you can expect bruising and swelling. Keep on wearing the compression garment. Change your dressings as per Dr Carmen’s instructions. She may ask you to come in for a follow-up appointment. Rest as much as possible and restrict your movement to avoid unnecessary stress on your incisions. We use our thighs to move around. Hence, it’s best to keep your activity to a minimum for a couple of days. Avoid driving.
1-2 Weeks after Thigh Lift Surgery
The end of the week will start with a follow-up appointment where Dr Carmen and her team will remove your drainage tubes. If you have non-dissolvable stitches, they will also be removed at this point. Keep on wearing your compression garment at all times. Take special care while moving around and do not stretch your thighs. Swelling and bruising will persist during this period but you will start to see and feel the results of the surgery by the end of week two. Short daily walks moving slowly around your house are encouraged but shopping and unnecessary tasks are to be reduced or avoided. Good planning prior to surgery is essential to ensure you can rest well following surgery. Please avoid driving if possible.
2-4 Weeks after Thigh Lift Surgery
After week two, you can slowly start walking around your house for up to 15 mins per day. Limit all other strenuous activities and any heavy weight lifting. This light movement will prevent blood clot formation. You can also do simple calf exercises as well as stretching the back of your lower legs. Daily walks are encouraged but shopping and unnecessary tasks are to be reduced or avoided, good planning prior to surgery is essential to ensure you can rest well following surgery. Your initial wound dressing will be reduced and redressed.
1-2 Months after Thigh Lift Surgery
By the end of the six weeks, your incisions will be healed completely. Most of the swelling will also subside after weeks four to six. At this point, you can also discuss your scar reduction treatment options. Stick to walking and avoid vigorous exercise till you hit the six-week mark or until your surgeon gives you approval.
6 Months after Thigh Lift Surgery
After six months, the swelling will be completely gone. You can fully see and enjoy your results now. However, the results will continue to become better over the next year. The results of the surgery are regarded as permanent and with healthy diet and exercise you can enjoy your new toned legs.
Things to Do in Advance before Thigh Lift
Preparation is the key to a smooth recovery. Here are a few things you need to do in advance before undergoing thigh lift surgery:
- Get your medical evaluation and any lab testing done.
- Make arrangements for someone responsible to drive you home and help you around the house after surgery.
- Prepare your hospital bag. Include two sets of comfortable clothes, your compression garment, snacks, towel, slippers, toiletries, chargers, phone, wide-mouthed refillable water bottle and anything that might come in handy.
- Get all the groceries and anything you might need around the house in advance. You are encouraged to stay home, or close to for at least a month after the thigh lift.
- Choose comfortable clothes that are easy to take on and off. Because that is all that you are going to be wearing for a month after surgery.
- Apply for leave in advance. Nobody likes to make all the arrangements, spend money, only to learn that their leave isn’t approved.
- Prepare yourself mentally. Thigh lift surgery will surely transform how you look but requires a lot of time, care and patience.
- Start eating healthy and drinking 2-3 litres of water a few weeks before the surgery.
- Eliminate smoking, drinking, herbal supplements and any blood-thinning medications from your system.
- Gather your support team. Let your friends and family members know that you are getting it done, get all the help and support you need.
Some Recovery Tips to Follow Post Thigh Lift Surgery
1. Managing Pain
Expect to feel some pain after any surgical procedure. You will experience mild to moderate pain during the first week post-thigh lift. Dr Carmen will give you painkillers to manage the pain at home. If the pain becomes unbearable, immediately contact your surgeon, a doctor or a hospital. The application of ice bags to the thighs helps numb pain and improve swelling. Remember, 20 minutes on 20 minutes off is ideal.
2. Rest Well
It is important to take a minimum of two weeks to a month off from work and rest. You might want to ask a family member or a friend to help you around the house for at least the first week. If you can, hire house help because you won’t be able to do any of the house chores by yourself. Sleep on your back and stack a pillow underneath your feet to keep them slightly elevated.
3. Hydration is vital
Your body is made up of 70 per cent water. Making sure that you are fully hydrated will lead to smooth recovery and speedy healing. Drink 2-3 litres of water and keep yourself hydrated at all times. Aim for 8 glasses of water per day. Bone broth and other soups or herbal tea are also recommended. You can also drink healthy juices. Stay clear of any unnatural drinks including sugary colas and energy drinks.
4. Limit Your Activity
It is important to avoid excessive movement for the first week after the surgery. However, it is important to take short ten minute walks around the house once you feel better. This promotes blood circulation, healing and reduces the risk of clotting. Moreover, you are not allowed to lift heavy weights and do strenuous exercises for six weeks after getting the surgery. You are also not supposed to drive for three to four weeks post-surgery.
5. Healthy Food
Please limit sodium-rich foods after thighplasty. It can worsen the swelling. Aim at including lots of fruits, vegetables and protein in your diet. If you can, eat home-cooked meals. You can always meal prep in advance before surgery and heat them later. Make sure that all your meals are rich in fibre.
6. Avoid Stress and Strain to heal well and reduce Scars
There are many scar removal treatments that can improve the appearance of a scar. Do not apply anything to your scars without consulting with your surgeon. Discuss the scar reduction plan in advance and then proceed with the plan accordingly.
7. Manage Swelling – Wear your Garment
You must wear a compression garment for as long as possible post-thigh lift surgery. Dr Carmen firmly believes in fitted garments post-surgery and insists that it is worn for the first 6 months post-op, both night and day. Do not skip this instruction as it is essential to a smooth and healthy recovery.
Avoid salty foods as they can retain excess water which leads to excess swelling. You can also use a cold compress to minimise swelling. Be careful not to traumatise your skin.
8. Reduce or limit Smoking/Alcohol/Vaping
You should quit smoking and drinking for at least a six-week recovery period. Both cigarettes and alcohol are disastrous to your successful recovery and can intensify the bruising. Smoking can limit blood supply and can result in poor scars or skin necrosis. Aim at drinking water instead to boost healing. Read also Does Vaping Affect Cosmetic Surgery Results?
9. Medication and Follow Up Visits
Do not skip your medications prescribed by Dr Carmen and never self-medicate during the recovery process. Take all the pain killers and antibiotics on time for optimal healing. Avoid blood-thinning medications as they can risk increased bleeding, bruising and hinder recovery. Do not miss a single follow-up clinic visit. It is just as important as the surgery itself. Dr Carmen will need a minimum of two to three clinic post-op visits to ensure optimal healing. It is crucial to attend all the visits.
When to Contact Your Surgeon or Medical Help
Every surgery comes with a certain degree of risk and complications. Here are a few signs to look for and get in touch with your surgeon or medical help immediately:
- You notice excessive bleeding at your incision sites.
- You experience oozing and pus in and around your incisions.
- You notice that swelling on one side of your body is more prominent than on the other side. It is an indicator of blood clotting.
- Your pain persists after week two and does not go away even when you take painkillers as directed by your surgeon.
- You experience shortness of breath and tightness around your chest area.
- You feel dizzy and nauseous for more than three to five days post-surgery.
People also ask
What can I expect after a thigh lift?
- As the surgery is performed under general anaesthesia, you will feel tired and nauseous as soon as you wake up from the surgery. You will also experience mild to moderate pain after the surgery. Moreover, you need to take certain time off from work to rest completely.
How long is recovery from medial thigh lift?
- Recovery from a medical thigh lift will take anywhere from four to six weeks.
What should I wear after a thigh lift?
- You must wear a compression garment for upto 6 months post-surgery for the best results. On top of that, wear loose, comfy clothes that are easy to take on and off.
Can you walk after a thigh lift?
- You should have complete bed rest for the first day after the surgery. After that, you can gently start to transfer from bed to chair, increasing the distance around your room. Continue to walk around for 5 minutes a number of times a day as this reduces the chance of blood clotting. Your clinic will advice when this distance can be increased.
How do you sleep after a thigh lift?
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sleep on your back and stack one to two pillows under your legs to keep them elevated.
Does a thigh lift help with cellulite?
- A thigh lift may tighten the skin to temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite. However, it will probably come back sooner or later. Of course, excised or removed skin may help reduce cellulite in that area.
When can you exercise after a thigh lift?
- You can start gentle walking two to three days after the surgery. However, delay starting any strenuous walking or exercises for at least four to six weeks after the surgery.
Can I take my compression garment off at night?
- No, you cannot take compression garment off at night for three to four weeks. Dr Carmen suggests you wear it for up to 6 months for best results.
When can I take a bath after a thigh lift?
- You can take light shower 48 hours after the surgery. Avoid taking baths for four to six weeks post-surgery.
Does a thigh lift leave scars?
- Yes, you will have scars after the thigh surgery. It will take about six months to a year for the scars to fade away, provided that you get started on your scar reduction treatment options.