Potential Risks and Complications of a Thigh Lift

A thigh lift is a surgical procedure used to treat excess or sagging skin and stubborn fat in the inner and outer thighs. As with all cosmetic surgery procedures, there are inherent risks and complications that can arise during or after a thigh lift. Your doctor can go over these risks with you and help you understand the possibilities before you make a decision. Choosing an experienced, qualified and board-certified plastic surgeon is the first step in reducing your risks. Some potential risks are avoidable or preventable with the right surgical procedures and care during recovery.


A thigh lift is an invasive procedure that involves making incisions on delicate areas of the skin. You will likely be put under general anesthesia during the surgery. If you know you are allergic to anesthetics, tell your doctor so alternatives may be explored. Anesthetics can also cause blood clots in some people. These clots can move into the legs or lungs, and are potentially fatal.


Most thigh lifts are performed to minimize scarring or hide the scar in the crease of the groin. The body has its own unique healing process, and while thigh lift procedures are generally well-tolerated, patients may develop unsightly or undesirable scars after the procedure. The thighs can appear asymmetrical after the body has healed.

Abnormal Healing

There is a risk that your body may not heal correctly after the procedure. Examples of abnormal healing include excess bleeding, hematoma (internal bruising or bleeding), blood clots, death of fat cells deep in the skin, discoloration and swelling. Some degree of bruising and swelling is to be expected, but severe or long-lasting bruising and swelling is not normal and can create persisting pain. Compression garments worn after surgery can help reduce swelling and aid the body's healing process.

Smoking tobacco has been shown to have an adverse effect on post-operative healing. If you are a smoker, you should avoid smoking in the weeks preceding and following your procedure to give your body the best conditions under which to heal. Simply reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke is not enough. To increase your chances of completely successful healing, you should stop smoking entirely. This is a difficult undertaking for most smokers, but can dramatically decrease your recovery time.


Infection at the incision site or within the treated area is a risk in all surgical procedures. An experienced doctor knows how to reduce this risk during the procedure. He or she can go over the ways you can prevent post-operative infection during your recovery.

Skin Changes

Thigh lifts require sutures to close the incision. These stitches can cause irritation or emerge from the skin, requiring removal. The incision wound can also separate during the healing process, which is painful and increases the risk of infection. Skin near the incision site may become puckered or dimpled. You may experience a loss or reduction of sensation in your thighs. While thigh lift results are often permanent, there is a chance that loose skin could recur after surgery.

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