Women and men getting a thigh lift often worry about recovery, its duration, and how difficult it will be.
Thigh lift surgery (also called thighplasty or a thigh lipectomy) is a commonly performed surgery that targets the excess fat and skin rolls on the thighs. As we age or after losing a lot of weight, our skin becomes lax and starts to droop. Droopy and lax thigh skin can be effectively treated with a thigh lift.
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Full recovery after thigh lift surgery is approximately 4-6 weeks. However, most patients can go back to work 2-3 weeks after their operation. Some movement limitations, leg pain, hip pain, bruising, and swelling are all a normal part of recovery and should not cause any concern.
If you’re considering thighplasty, this article will show you what you can expect after your surgery. Keep reading for some valuable aftercare tips and a detailed day-to-day timeline of thigh lift recovery.
How to Prepare For a Thigh Lift
Whether you’re getting an inner thigh lift, outer thigh lift, spiral thigh lift, or a mini thigh lift, it makes no difference. Here are the things you can and should do to prepare yourself for surgery and for a pleasant recovery time:
- Wear loose-fitting clothes.
- If you don’t already have some, get some loose-fitting pyjamas or a nightgown to wear as your wounds recover.
- Get some supplies.
- Foods, drinks, and entertainment. Make sure you have all these around so that you don’t have to go shopping during the first week of recovery.
- Choose a caretaker.
- After your surgery, you will need to organise someone to collect you from the hospital and drive you home. A taxi is not sufficient.
- Get a babysitter.
- If you have kids, you’re going to need help with them for the first 2-7 days depending on their ages. Preferably get someone to help you clean, cook, and take care of the kids all together. If your partner can take a few days off work to help, that would be even better.
- Talk to your boss.
- We recommend 10-14 days of sick leave to recover from your thighplasty.
- Stick to medical instructions.
- Your surgeon will ask you to stop certain medications prior to surgery eg: Blood thinning meds will need to be stopped 1-2 weeks prior to surgery as there is an increased risk of bleeding post-op. Some herbal medicines and /or vitamins will also need to be ceased due to increased bleeding. Your surgeon will discuss this with you.
Your surgeon will also give you a strict fasting time, which means nothing to eat or drink, prior to surgery.
What to Expect During Recovery After a Thigh Lift
You will need 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover from a thigh lift. The speed of recovery depends on several factors, like your body’s healing ability, your ability to follow post-op instructions, and the type of thigh lift you are having
A spiral thigh lift goes all around the thigh and is more invasive than a medial or inner thigh lift. The more invasive your surgery is, the longer recovery will take.
Here are the normal symptoms that you can expect during recovery from a thigh lift:
- Pain: Pain is normal after any surgery, including a thigh lift. The pain will be focused in the areas that were lifted but might extend all around the circumference of your thighs and upwards to your belt line. Mild painkillers are usually enough to deal with thighplasty pain
- Swelling: Swelling is inevitable. Your thighs will swell and might ooze some fluids from your wounds. Swelling usually peaks at 1 week after a thigh lift and progressively improves over 4 – 6 weeks. However, it can be normal to experience residual swelling up to 12 months post surgery.
- Movement restriction: During the first 1-2 days you might find it hard to walk around since you have wounds on your thighs. Your ability to move your lower body will progressively improve over the first few weeks of your recovery.
- Bruising: Bruising is normal after a thigh lift. It usually lasts 14-21 days during which it changes colours (red, blue, then yellow) before it fades away completely.
- Numbness: Tingling and loss of sensation might occur after your thigh lift in small areas of skin around your wounds. This sometimes happens as a result of shock or injury to the small sensory nerve endings in the skin. It’s temporary and in most cases resolves on its own.
Best Tips for Recovery After a Thigh Lift
If you want to recover faster after your thigh lift and find ways to deal with pain and discomfort, then these tips and tricks are all that you need:
- Sleep on your back: In other words, don’t sleep on your sides. Sleeping on one side might put unnecessary pressure on your wounds and will shift the fluids and cause swelling on a single side. It’s better to sleep on your back with a pillow resting under your knees.
- Elevate your legs when sleeping: Put a few pillows under your legs to lift them up. This reduces the tension on your wounds.
- Wear your compression garments: Wear them day and night, for 6 weeks as directed by your surgeon. They decrease the risk of complications and swelling after a thigh lift.
- Apply ice packs: A thigh lift can cause significant swelling. Ice packs and cold towels are excellent methods to reduce swelling and relieve pain or discomfort.
- Avoid excessive movements: Walking is okay (and recommended), but you should not overdo it. Listen to your body and give it the rest it needs.
- Careful while getting up: Getting up from sleeping or sitting position can put pressure on your thigh lift wounds. Try to move with your upper body and push yourself up using your arms when getting up into a standing position.
Do’s and Don’ts for Thigh Lift Recovery
For you to have a better recovery, here’s what you should and should not do after getting a thigh lift:
- Wear your thigh compression garments 24/7
- Walk slowly and gently when you feel like you can
- Massage your calves when possible
- Stick to your surgeon’s thigh lift aftercare instructions
- Keep your thigh lift wound dry and clean
- Stay in bed. Get out and start moving.
- Shower until you are given clearance from your surgeon
- Go running or jogging for at least a month
- Expose your wounds to direct sunlight
A Timeline for Recovery After Thigh Lift Recovery
We’ve put together a detailed week-by-week timeline of thigh lift recovery. It will help you understand what will happen and how you will feel during each week of your healing period so that you can prepare well:
DAY OF THIGH LIFT
Thigh lift surgery is usually done as an inpatient procedure. You will be asked to stay overnight for monitoring, or you may also be asked to stay longer depending on your. recovery. Since you will be given an anaesthetic during your surgery, you will feel a little drowsy and dizzy afterwards. This is normal.
Make sure that someone is organised to drive you home from the hospital as you cannot drive yourself.
You might have a couple of small plastic drains sticking out of your wounds. These aim to prevent seroma (fluid collection) in your wounds and will be taken out after a few days.
The first week after thigh lift surgery is usually the most challenging You will have moderate pain, especially when walking and moving around.
You will be given analgesia on discharge from hospital and it is advisable that you take this routinely to avoid significant pain. If you require stronger pain medication please contact your surgeon.
If you require stronger pain medication please contact your surgeon.
Rest is important to prevent complications but it is advisable to mobilise as soon as you feel ready to prevent blood clots.
It is not common to have drains after a thighplasty, but if you do our nursing staff will be in daily contact with you and monitor their output for when they can be removed. You will be given a Post Op appointment before discharge for 7 to 10 days post-surgery to check your wounds and change your dressings.
The second week after a thigh lift is an easier period for most patients as they start to heal. The pain will have started to reduce and patients can generally move around more.
Most people feel well enough to go back to work 10-14 days after their thigh lift however this depends on the type of work they do. Patients working from home may feel more comfortable commencing work sooner than patients who have a labour-intensive job. If your work is particularly demanding, you may not be up to your full working capacity until 4 weeks post-op.
You should not start exercising, running or jogging just yet.
Most of the pain and bruising will be gone by the 3rd week after your thigh lift surgery. Swelling can still be present
be there but will be on its way out.
Ability to mobilise increases and you will be able to reduce pain medication to a minimum. Be careful not to push yourself too much during this time.
Listen to your surgeon’s guidance as to whether you can commence light exercise at this point. You may still be experiencing some pain with movement so you might not feel ready to exercise just yet. This is okay.
Any remaining pain will most likely be gone by the 6th week of recovery. Some very minimal degree of swelling will still be there and will keep decreasing over the next few months.
By the 6th week of your thigh lift recovery, you will return to a more normal routine with little or no restrictions. You will be advised by your surgeon when you can stop wearing your compression garment – somewhere between 6 to 8 weeks depending on your surgeon’s preference.
Keep in mind that your thighplasty scars will keep maturing for at least a full year, but sometimes up to 2 years, before they take a final shape and colour.
How to get the Best Results After Thigh Lift
If you’re looking to get the best out of your thighplasty, then here are some things you can do:
- Choose the best thigh lift plastic surgeon: The most critical factor that determines the quality of your cosmetic procedure is the experience and talent of your surgeon. Our surgeons at Coco Ruby are some of the best plastic surgeons in Melbourne and Australia. They provide high-end procedures and nothing less.
- Scar Treatment: Approximately 12 to 14 weeks after surgery you will be eligible for a scar assessment with one of our dermal therapists. We offer this to our patients so they can achieve the best possible scar.
- Follow our rapid recovery guide
- Take your supplements: Our surgeons prescribe Arginaid and Arnica, two meds that contain numerous nutrients to boost healing after your thigh lift and reduce bruising.
Potential Risks of Thigh Lift
As with all other surgeries, a thigh lift can also have some complications. However, most of these are usually mild and can be easily dealt with:
- Seroma or Haematoma: Fluid collection (seroma) and blood collection (haematoma) can occur after a thigh lift. The fluids can collect in your wounds and under your skin and cause bulging. These can be drained in the rooms by your surgeon.
- Abnormal scarring: some individuals scar more than others due to their genetic makeup and require subsequent scar therapy.
- Wound infection: Although our surgeons follow the most advanced sterility techniques, sometimes a wound infection still happens. If you get a fever or notice that your wounds are becoming more painful, red, or swollen, then you should seek medical advice.
FAQS About Thigh Lift Recovery
HOW LONG IS RECOVERY FROM MEDIAL THIGH LIFT?
- Recovery after a medial thigh lift is usually 6-8 weeks. This can be more or less depending on your body’s healing ability and the extent of surgery.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR AFTER A THIGH LIFT?
- You should wear loose-fitting clothes, pyjamas, or a gown around the house. By doing this, you can avoid unnecessary pressure on your thigh wounds.
CAN YOU WALK AFTER A THIGH LIFT?
- Yes, you can walk directly after your thigh lift, but walking might be uncomfortable and painful during the first few days.
HOW DO YOU SLEEP AFTER A THIGH LIFT?
- You can sleep on your back, but preferably not on your sides. Sleeping on your sides will cause unilateral swelling. Putting pillows under your legs to elevate them can reduce the tension on your wounds, and is hence also recommended.
DOES A THIGH LIFT HELP WITH CELLULITE?
- A thigh lift is not itself a cellulite treatment, but sometimes it can help in reducing the appearance of cellulite by tightening the skin of the thighs.
WHEN CAN YOU EXERCISE AFTER A THIGH LIFT?
- You can resume full exercise after 6-8 weeks of lifting your thighs.
CAN I TAKE MY COMPRESSION GARMENT OFF AT NIGHT?
- It is recommended that you wear your compression garment 24/7 (with the exception of showering) for at least 6 weeks after your surgery.
WHEN CAN I TAKE A BATH AFTER A THIGH LIFT?
- Depending on your surgeon you can shower 7 -10 days after your thigh lift. However, avoid swimming and full-body immersion for at least a couple of weeks.
Medical References About Thigh Lift Recovery
If you’re looking to learn more about the recovery and complications after a thigh lift, here are some valuable medical resources: