A thigh lift is a particularly popular procedure among patients who have undergone weight loss surgery. Many are left with a large amount of loose skin or uneven fat deposits and if left untreated, the patient may have mobility issues or suffer from infections and emotional stress. Sometimes the normal aging process can cause loose crepey skin on the thighs and the individual may be unhappy and self-conscious about the way their thighs look.
Thigh lift surgery can correct excess skin and remove stubborn unsightly fat pockets that affect not only the way they look but sometimes can even inhibit the individual’s productivity. When considering a thigh lift, patients should be aware of the details involved in thigh lift surgery recovery.
Thigh Lift Recovery Overview
The recovery time involved after a thigh lift will depend upon the type of thigh lift the surgeon performed, the amount of correction needed, and if the thigh lift was combined with any other surgical procedure. Another major factor that can influence the patient’s thigh lift recovery timeline is how well they take care of themselves as they recover. including following all the surgeon’s aftercare directions.
Aftercare instructions that help to ensure that thigh lift surgery recovery goes smoothly include:
- Rest as much as possible;
- Take all medications per the surgeon’s instructions;
- Follow all aftercare instructions precisely – incision care, drains, walking schedule to avoid blood clots, etc.;
- Keep your legs elevated as much as you can to help keep swelling down;
- Minimize leg movements taking care not to exert pressure on the incision sites;
- Wear your compression garment faithfully as the surgeon instructs;
- Stay well hydrated and avoid consuming excess sodium to minimize swelling and fluid retention;
- Do not try to return to your normal routine before your surgeon clears you;
- Eat healthy foods that promote healing;
- Do not smoke.
What Is Recovery Like After A Thigh Lift?
Every patient will have a slightly different recovery experience. You can learn a great deal from real patients who give their thigh lift testimonials and share their thigh lift recovery stories on social media and weight loss forums.
To get a general idea of what to expect see the thigh lift recovery timeline below.
Thigh Lift Recovery Timeline
The Day Of Your Thigh Lift – Immediately After Surgery
- You may feel nauseous, fatigued, or have a headache when you first come out of anesthesia in the recovery room.
- Your thighs will be wrapped and you will have small drainage tubes to help eliminate fluid from your legs as you begin to heal.
- You will not be able to drive and will need a ride home and someone to stay with you for a few days.
- You will be helped to walk around a little to help avoid blood clots.
The Day After Thigh Lift
- You will need to concentrate on rest except for short walks around the house every few hours. You may find that lying in bed is the most comfortable position for the next few days.
- Continue following any instructions given to you by the surgeon for this time (emptying drains, elevating legs, etc)
- You will most likely need to take the prescription pain medication for the first several days after your thigh lift to help ease discomfort.
- You may also need to take antibiotics to avoid infection if directed.
2-3 Days After Thigh Lift
- Usually, this is when swelling and bruising peak and you may be uncomfortable.
- Continue to keep your legs elevated, taking your pain medication, and using cold compresses may help ease discomfort.
- It is important that you continue to minimize your movements taking care to avoid any excess pressure or stretching the incisions.
- Continue to get plenty of rest.
1-2 Weeks After Thigh Lift
- During this time, you will visit your surgeon for a follow-up and your drains and sutures will be taken out and your surgical dressings removed or replaced
- You will need to continue wearing your compression garments as these help keep bruising and swelling down and help support and protect the incision sites as you heal.
- Continue to be cautious when standing, walking, or sitting, and avoid bending.
- The swelling should be starting to subside.
2-4 Weeks After Thigh Lift
- You may be able to use over-the-counter pain medications if you are still experiencing discomfort.
- The swelling should be going away gradually and you should be able to get an idea of the results of your surgery.
- You can begin slow gentle movements and walk for longer times.
- The doctor may give you some simple exercises that stretch your calves and the back side of your legs.
- Usually, by this time, the incisions have healed enough that you can go into a swimming pool but no vigorous swimming.
1-2 Months After Thigh Lift
- In most cases, by six weeks the incisions are well healed and only slight swelling should remain if any.
- Your incision line scar will be prominent but will fade over time.
- The surgeon will most likely clear you for most activities.
6 Months After Thigh Lift
- Your swelling should be gone and you should be able to see the final results of your thigh lift surgery.
- Your incision scar may be a shade or two lighter but it can take up to 2 years for it to fade completely.
Thigh Lift Recovery FAQs
1. What Is The Best Way To Minimize Recovery Time After a Thigh Lift?
The best way to minimize your thigh lift recovery time is to choose a surgeon who is an expert in performing the type of thigh lift you are undergoing and one who utilizes the avulsion technique. This technique is preferred by Dr. Angelina Postoev as it mitigates post-surgical complications and helps speed up the patient’s recovery process.
The avulsion technique involves a special liposuction procedure used during the thighplasty that preserves the blood vessels and leaves the lymphatic channels that are under the skin undisturbed. This significantly cuts down on swelling and since the body does not have to rebuild and re-establish the blood vessel network it also shortens the patient’s overall recovery time.
2. How Long Does Recovery Last After a Thigh Lift?
Incisions made during a thigh lift are quite long and take time to heal. On average, patients can resume light activities within 1 -2 weeks. Full recovery takes between 6 and 8 weeks.
3. How Long Does Thigh Lift Pain Last?
Individuals have different levels of pain tolerance but generally speaking, the first week is normally the most painful part of the healing process. Your surgeon will prescribe you some pain medication to take to help ease your discomfort but If you are having issues with pain management, your surgeon can make adjustments in the medication, etc.
4. When Can I Take a Shower?
Most surgeons will allow patients to take a shower approximately 48-72 hours after surgery.
5. Can I Sit After A Thigh Lift?
Patients can usually sit after a thigh lift if it is comfortable and it does not cause any stress on the incision locations. Depending on the type of thigh lift surgery that was performed, the surgeon may recommend bed rest for the first week.
6. When Can I Sit To Use The Toilet After A Thigh Lift?
Most surgeons will give patients creative ideas for using the bathroom in the days immediately following a thigh lift but normally patients are allowed to sit down if they are comfortable doing so and as long as they are not putting too much pressure on their incisions.
7. When Can I Start Walking Around After a Thigh Lift?
Many patients ask, “Can I walk after a thigh lift?” The answer is yes, but carefully, and you will need help for the first few days.
Patients are encouraged to start walking the day of their thigh lift surgery as it helps prevent deep vein thrombosis. The walking starts very slow with small steps and patients gradually increase their lengths and steps as they recover.
8. When Can I Remove My Bandages After a Thigh Lift?
Each surgeon has their preference and will instruct their patient on what they would like them to do. Dr. Angelina Postoev instructs her patients to leave their bandages alone as they will be taken off strictly by her at their follow-up visit two weeks after the thigh lift.
9. Do I Need a Garment After a Thigh Lift?
Yes, patients will need to wear a special compression garment after a thigh lift procedure. This garment helps support the surgical areas, reduces bruising, and mitigates swelling. Compression garments are normally worn during the entire recovery process however, the type of garment may change during the recovery time to accommodate different phases of the healing process.
The type of garment may vary for each person and will be chosen specifically for that patient based on the patient’s body type and the requirements of other procedures that might be combined with the thigh lift.
10. How Do I Take Care of Scars After a Thigh Lift?
Taking proper care of your incisions will help minimize the appearance of scars after thigh lift surgery. Normally, after about 2 weeks, once the bandages have been removed, prescription scar cream can be applied daily to the areas. Vitamin E and cocoa butter are also effective to help alleviate scarring. It is important to keep your scars protected from the sun or they can permanently darken. Using 30+ SPF and avoiding sun exposure to the areas will help keep visible scarring to a minimum.
11. Does Smoking Matter When Healing After a Thigh Lift?
Smoking greatly affects the healing process and most surgeons, including Dr. Angelina, require their patients to quit smoking for some time before they undergo surgery and during their recovery. Studies have shown that smoking has several harmful effects on wound healing. Smoking has been associated with dehiscence, necrosis, and infection, as it interferes in the body’s natural healing process.
Keep in mind, that exposure to second-hand smoke can also hinder the healing process.
12. When Can I Return to Work After a Thigh Lift?
The length of time an individual needs to take off of work to recover from thigh lift surgery will vary by patient and the extent of the surgery. If combining other surgeries with the thigh lift, patients may need to take additional time. As a rule, patients should plan to take at least 1 to 2 weeks off to ensure their incisions properly heal.
13. When Can I Swim After a Thigh Lift?
Normally, patients are able to get in the water at around 2-3 weeks when the incisions are fully closed and healed. However, they may not be able to do any strenuous swimming as it requires aggressive leg movements. Your surgeon will be able to advise you on when you can resume exercise-related activities.
If you are interested in thigh lift surgery and learning more about which procedure would be right for you, book a consultation with Dr. Angelina Postoev at SurgiCare Arts & Aesthetics! Dr. Angelina will speak with you about your individual needs, discuss the thigh lift options available to you, and answer any questions you may have. Call or book your consultation online today!
Angelina Postoev, MD, FACS, a triple board-certified cosmetic surgeon, and Christopher Ibikunle, MD, FACS, offer thigh lifts to patients in Lawrenceville, Suwanee, Johns Creek, Buckhead, and other surrounding areas of Atlanta, Georgia.