“Contouring thighs can be challenging!” says expert Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Marc Pacifico. Despite being a continually popular request, it seems that this is not due to a shortage of techniques, but more about patient’s expectations about realistic results that provide the biggest challenge.
“For example, as plastic surgeons we frequently have requests from patients for liposuction to their thighs to reduce their size and fat deposits, which technically is possible. However, what many people don’t take into account is their skin quality. This is a major factor, particularly if people are over around 30, as a combination of cellulite and early skin ageing will have an impact on the result” explains Marc.
The bottom line is that liposuction can remove fat from a given area, but relies on the skin’s ability to contract, or shrink-wrap, over the next few months to give the final result. If there is any cellulite beforehand, it can actually be more obvious after liposuction, especially in the first couple of months after the procedure. There is no perfect treatment for cellulite, despite an abundance of claims, so an honest expert opinion is crucial if your skin is affected and you are considering fat reduction to this area.
In some people the skin will have lost its ability to contract, and therefore if liposuction alone were used, it would simply leave deflated and empty loose skin behind, with a poor aesthetic outcome. If you are in this situation, then a thigh lift will be needed. The most comprehensive thigh lift leaves a scar discretely along the inside of the thigh, but achieves the best possible shape and outcome. This is ideally suited to people who have lost a lot of weight.
For those somewhere in between, there are a variety of mini-thigh lifts that leave scars along the groin crease. “Personally, I am very wary of these operations,” explains Marc. “Whilst their concept is attractive, the two main problems that can occur are almost impossible to correct. These are descent of the scar – i.e. it can move down from the groin to the upper thigh and become visible below bikinis and underwear. The second risk is labial spreading in women – this means that the vaginal lips (the labia) can be pulled apart, which causes both functional problems as well as poor cosmesis”. However, in certain people they can be effective – again, after careful examination and discussion with a Consultant Plastic Surgeon.
What about other aspects that seem to be more difficult than expected? “The upper inner thighs are much more difficult to get a good result in than the outer thighs, or saddle bags, with liposuction” says Consultant Plastic Surgeon Nora Nugent. This is because the skin of the upper inner thighs is so much thinner and does not have the same capacity to contract compared with the outer thighs. By contrast, excellent results can often be achieved with saddle-bag liposuction. Similarly, fat around the knees often responds well.
We are hearing more about non-surgical treatments for fat, such as fat freezing. Do these help? “Actually fat freezing relies on the same sort of skin contraction as liposuction” explains Nora, “so the same risks apply”. Fat freezing has proven popular and attractive as it avoids surgery, however, it can still be an uncomfortable procedure, and the outcomes are more modest than liposuction.
At the end of the day, as for all procedures, the most important step is to seek expert advice and opinion to understand what options may be appropriate for you and what outcomes you can realistically expect. Please don’t rely on the internet, chat rooms or marketing hype – see an expert so you can make the right decision.
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