Thigh Lift Introduction

A thigh lift is useful for reshaping and contouring the thighs. Dr. Kim removes excess skin and fat from the upper leg so you have better proportions and a more toned leg contour. Thigh lift surgery is the same thing as having liposuction in these areas. Liposuction is more suited for patients with firmer fat deposits, whereas thigh lift is ideal for removing loose, sagging, stretched skin that will not disappear with diet and exercise.

The Thigh Lift Procedure

The pattern and length of your thigh lift surgery incision depends on the location and amount of excess skin and fat to be removed. The incision can be very small and not extend beyond the groin area, or it may be larger and extend from the groin around the hip. Usually, the larger incision is used when Dr. Kim improves the contours of your outer thigh, not just your inner thigh. During your personalized consultation with Dr. Kim in his offices in the Galter Pavilion on the Northwestern campus in downtown Chicago, he will discuss your incision options and work with you to decide which option is best. Often, he is able to place even large incisions in a location not readily visible.

Through the incision(s), Dr. Kim is able to tighten your tissues for a firmer, smoother lower body contour with improved tone. The tissue under the skin as well as the skin itself will be reduced and reshaped, allowing for more proportionate and more attractive body contours.


Dr. John Kim, cosmetic plastic surgeon, typically performs his thigh lifts as outpatient procedures, meaning you will go home the day of surgery or less commonly be admitted to the hospital for 23 hours or less. Directly after surgery, he may apply dressings and bandages to your incisions and perhaps an elastic bandage as well to reduce any swelling. Thin, small drains may be placed beneath the skin for a few days or weeks to drain excess fluid or blood that accumulates at your surgery site. Dr. Kim will provide you with specific directions as to how to care for your body following surgery, including medications to aid healing and avoid infection and when to schedule follow up appointments to see him in his Northwestern Plastic Surgery office.

As you recover, it is crucial that you follow the plan of care Dr. Kim outlines for you. He will discuss what to expect during your recovery period, including pain expectations, activity levels, and driving restrictions. It is very important that your incisions are not subjected to any abrasion, motion, or excessive force as they heal. The healing process varies from patient to patient based on how extensive the surgical correction was, but it is typical that patients are required to wear a compression garment to provide support to the affected tissues as they heal and to minimize swelling. After just a few weeks, patients are usually able to resume the majority of their normal daily activities, including mild exercise.

Swelling typically begins to subside after 2 weeks, and you will start to notice your tighter, smoother contours at that time. Scars often appear prominent the first few months after surgery, but those too begin to subside over time. They gradually flatten and lighten in color, but they will not disappear entirely. Thigh lifts can give patients with extra, sagging, stretchy skin very positive results. Your slimmer contours can provide you with a more beautiful physique and increased self-esteem. These lift surgeries are considered permanent; however, Dr. Kim always recommends that you maintain a healthy weight and diet so as to retain your excellent results.

Frequently Asked Questions About Thigh Lift

What are the benefits of thigh lift?

A well-performed thigh lift procedure will leave your legs looking leaner, smoother and more proportional to the rest of your body. Your lower body will appear younger and healthier.

Excess skin that hangs off your inner thighs will be removed and you will see a reduction or resolution in skin-related issues such as chafing or rashes. Personal hygiene will improve without folds of loose skin to worry about. When dressing, it will be easier to fit your legs into certain styles of clothing.

What can I do to get the best results from thigh lift?

Selecting a plastic surgeon who performs the procedure frequently and has a good reputation for attractive results will set you up for thigh lift success. Clearly communicate your treatment goals to your surgeon and consider using photographs of previous patients to illustrate what you hope to achieve from your own procedure.

How should I prepare for thigh lift?

Once your surgery is booked, follow all of your surgeon’s pre- and post-operative instructions. These guidelines are designed to keep you safe from any complications that could affect your health, safety and final results.

The most important precautions to take are to stop smoking, using other tobacco products and taking any medications/vitamins that could thin your blood (e.g., aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamin E). Dr. Kim will go over your medications and vitamins and advise whether changes are required.

You can make a few logistical preparations to ensure a smooth day of surgery and recovery. Anticipate being limited in what you can do for approximately one to two weeks after surgery and make the necessary accommodations so you can rest and relax. Schedule time off from work (patients with desk jobs usually take one to two weeks of vacation time). Arrange for another adult to drive you to and home from surgery and stay with you overnight after your procedure. Have a plan for any children, pets or elderly parents who rely on you for care.

How can I minimize scarring from thigh lift?

Scarring is unavoidable after thigh lift. With the right care, your scar will fade significantly over time.

After surgery, keep your thigh lift incision clean and dry. Do not smoke, as smoking can complicate the wound healing process and lead to bad scars. Avoid directly exposing your scar to the sun during your recovery. Ask Dr. Kim whether he recommends any topical products or treatments to help lighten the scar.

Can thigh lift be combined with other plastic surgery procedures?

Yes. As long as Dr. Kim medically clears you, you may choose to have another procedure performed at the same time as thigh lift.

If you have lost a large amount of weight, consider combining thigh lift with tummy tuck, arm lift and/or breast lift to remove loose skin and tighten loose tissues. By combining two procedures into the same operation, you can save on recovery time and some of the costs associated with surgery (e.g., anesthesia and facility fees).

Dr. Kim will advise whether there are any safety concerns with performing more than one procedure at a time.