Thigh lift

This is a procedure used to remove the excessive skin and tissue that may hang from the upper inner thigh. (also referred to as a medial thigh lift)

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The Procedure

This is a procedure used to remove the excessive skin and tissue that may hang from the upper inner thigh. This may be a result of massive weight loss. The amount to be removed varies with each patient.

The technique employs liposuction followed by an incision running in the fold where the thigh joins the groin. Some procedures may also require the removal of skin and tissue down the inner aspect of the thigh towards the knee .

The extra skin and tissue (fat) is removed under controlled tension.

Dr Belt will try to position the horizontal scar so it runs in a natural skin crease line. If a vertical scar is required it is placed along a line from the groin to the knee in a manner that will conceal the scar when the leg is against the body. This scar may be visible if the leg is uncovered and held out from the other leg.

The thigh is an area where the healing is unpredictable and this may result in an unsightly scar.


From 1st January 2016 Medicare has imposed restrictions on the use of the item number for the thigh lipectomy.  In order to qualify under the new Medicare guidelines it is important that patients fulfil the following criteria:

  • There is intertrigo (severe rashes and skin ulceration) or another skin condition that risks loss of skin integrity and has failed three months of conventional (non-surgical) treatment
  • The excess skin interferes with the activities of daily living
  • The weight loss is equivalent to a loss of 5 BMI (body mass index) points which has been stable for at least six months
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Complications and Risks

All Procedures have potential complications and risks. These can be divided into general complications and those specific to each procedure. The latter are listed in the FAQs below.

General complications include:

  • Wound complications - bleeding, bruising, collections under the skin of blood (haematoma), pus (abscess), serous fluid (seroma), infection, wound breakdown, suture extrusion, sensory loss;
  • Aesthetic complications - poor scars, stretched scars, raised scars (keloid or hypertrophic), contour irregularities, need for revisional procedure;
  • Anaesthetic complications


  • What are the potential risks?

    These can be broken down into both general and specific risks. The specific risks include bruising, swelling, uneven or asymmetrical results notably rippling, dimpling and loose skin, collections of fluid or blood occurring under the skin. Skin discolouration which is generally temporary but may become permanent. Permanent loss of sensation is unusual though some patients do find that they have some reduced sensation for the first few months following the operation.

    The fat that has a poor blood supply may result in a discharge from the surgical wounds or palpable lumps.

    Even following good healing and good surgical results, scars can be unsightly and disappointing. Dr Belt will try to limit the scar length and place the scar in the least obvious location on the thigh. The scars may migrate and the final scar placement is unpredictable.

    The quality of the scar is also unpredictable and keloid or hypertrophic or stretched scars may occur. These types of scars are thickened and raised scars that can be itchy as well as unsightly.

    The surgery may distort the contour and affect the appearance of the genitalia especially in women.

  • What costs are involved?

    These include Dr Belt’s fee, a surgical assistant's fee the theatre and day fee, as well as a specialist anaesthetist fee.
  • What happens after the procedure?

    The surgery can be performed as a day patient or as an overnight case. Usually a drain will be placed into the wound which will remain in place for 1 to 2 days. It is possible to go home with the drains in place.

    In day case procedures, generally the patients go home after a few hours. Most patients report that pain and discomfort are minor for the first few days. Local anaesthetic is still in the wounds and this will give some pain relief.

    Paracetamol is usually sufficient pain relief but you will be discharged with some stronger analgesia (pain killers) in case you get breakthrough pain. Plan a very quiet week after the surgery.

    A taylor made compression garment will be provided and this reduces the swelling in the treated areas and should be maintained for 6 weeks after the surgery.

    Most people return to work within a week or two of surgery and light activities can be resumed within two to three weeks but normal activities may take up to six weeks.
  • What type of anaesthetic is used?

    Dr Belt recommends that the surgery is performed under a General Anaesthetic administered by a specialist anaesthetist.
  • Can other procedures be used at the same time?

    It is possible to combine a thigh lift at the same time as surgery to other areas of the body. Please discuss this with Dr Belt at the time of your consultation.

    It is generally not advisable to have a medial thigh lift at the same time as an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck). This is because the combined procedures can result in excessive skin tension in the skin between the two surgical sites.

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