Thigh Liposuction vs. Thigh Lift: Which is right for you?

Thigh Liposuction vs. Thigh Lift: Which is right for you?
Thigh Liposuction vs. Thigh Lift: Which is right for you?

A healthy diet and regular exercise can do a lot for you and your appearance, but unfortunately, lean and sculpted legs are not always the end result. In fact, when it comes to the size of your thighs, sometimes genetics make it nearly impossible to have the shape you want. Fortunately you're not without options!

In experienced hands, liposuction is a powerful means to permanently improve those genetically determined selective fat storage areas that can be challenging if not impossible to improve by means of diet and exercise, says Dr. Michael Law If you are not happy with your saddlebags, thick thighs or a combo of the two, "lipo" just might be the answer to your prayers. After all, it can reshape the body beautifully and help keep fat from returning to the treated area.

This cosmetic procedure can slim and contour specific areas of the body by removing excess, localized fat deposits. A small incision is made, where a small tube or cannula is inserted and used to suction out the excess fat. A plastic surgeon’s critical eye is key when performing this procedure. Dr. Law believes in a conservative approach with removal of fat from the upper medial thighs. He says, "A small amount of space between the upper inner thighs is aesthetically ideal, but a wide space between the upper inner thighs looks post-surgical, unhealthy, and unnatural." Not a look anyone should strive for. Regarding the upper inner thighs, he says "post-liposuction contour irregularities can be severe if the plastic surgeon is not skilled at and experienced with the treatment of this particular area." Make sure you check out the surgeon's side-by-side “before and after” images before you decide to proceed with surgery to make sure your aesthetic vision and the surgeon’s are similar.

Though liposuction is an ideal solution for a lot of patients, it's not a magic bullet for all who are unhappy with their thighs. If you have skin laxity in your thigh area, you might need thigh lift surgery in your future. Dr. Law says, "A lateral thigh lift can improve saddlebag area skin laxity / cellulite and can be extended across the posterior midline to lift the buttocks as well. A medial thigh lift is designed to address skin laxity in the upper medial thigh." Many candidates for thigh lifts have experienced significant weight loss, or have had changes in body contour and skin tone following one or more pregnancies.

A small percentage of patients undergoing thigh lift surgery do not have excess fat in the area that would require liposuction beforehand - but most do - and must therefore first undergo liposuction treatment, followed by thigh lift surgery two to three months later. The later surgery involves removing excess skin and any underlying excess subcutaneous tissue and fat, clearly significantly more invasive than liposuction alone.

The only way to know what's right for you is to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon. Dr. Law says, "Procedure selection really boils down to the nature of one’s skin in the treatment areas. Youthful elastic skin will tolerate a significant amount of fat removal by liposuction without resulting in unfavorable skin laxity. As degrees of skin laxity increase, the amount of liposuction that can be performed decreases, and with significant degrees of skin laxity, liposuction alone is not a good option."

If diet and exercise have not gotten rid of your stubborn or disproportionate pockets of fat, your weight is stable and you're close to your ideal weight, you might be a good candidate for one or both of these procedures. In general, "lipo" is an easier surgery to recover from than thigh lift surgery but sometimes liposuction alone is not sufficient. In either case, it's crucial to seek evaluation with a board-certified plastic surgeon who is experienced with liposuction and thigh lift surgery. Dr. Law says, "There is no substitute for experience and expertise in the process of determining whether a patient should undergo liposuction versus thigh lift surgery, or a combination of the two as a single procedure or as staged procedures."

To learn more about body contouring procedures, check out the procedure page.

About the Author

Nancy Weinberg Simon is a beauty and lifestyle writer with over 20 years of experience. She's the founder and editor of the beauty and lifestyle blog, The Beauty Wall, the features editor at Beauty in the Bag, and was the beauty editor at Family Circle magazine from 1997-2007. She's also been a valuable contributor to Ladies' Home Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, More magazine and numerous other magazines and online beauty sites. Prior to finding her niche and writing about everything beauty related, Nancy dabbled in casting, production, talent management, advertising and the modeling industry. She loves reading everything and anything she can get her hands on, entertaining family and friends, trolling home decor sites and attending estate sales, open houses and outdoor markets. Nancy lives with her husband, two children and two very large cats, just outside of NYC.