In addition to most of the standard risks of surgery, there are some additional risks with a thigh lift or thighplasty. Standard risks include obvious things such as bleeding, infection, scars, numbness, wound healing problems, pain and anesthesia issues.
Bleeding and Infection
Bleeding problems can be reduced by avoiding taking medications that can thin your blood before surgery. You will receive a list of common medications to avoid for two weeks before surgery. Infection around the time of surgery can be reduced by taking your antibiotics appropriately as prescribed.
Most of the incisions tend to heal nicely without excessive scarring unless there are wound healing problems that can result in excessive scarring. We try to reduce scars by using all buried, absorbable sutures and taping over the incisions for several months after surgery. The skin that is undermined and pulled tight can be numb for a while but most, if not all, of the sensation generally returns in a few months. Scars can be much worse if you smoke or are around secondary smoke for a month before or after surgery. No form of nicotine is acceptable.
A thigh lift is usually not very painful compared to some other procedures. We try to reduce pain by infiltrating the area full of both short and long acting local anesthetics at the time of surgery. A prescription for pain pills is also provided but most patients find that they can switch to over the counter medications in a few days.
Seroma formation, which is a buildup of blood without blood cells, is somewhat unique to thigh lifts. This can result because of an interruption of the lymphatic drainage as a result of dissection during surgery and because of the dependent nature of the legs. This can be reduced by keeping your legs elevated as much as possible after surgery and wearing your compression garments religiously. You should, however, get up and walk short distances frequently to reduce the risk of blood clots forming in your legs.
Blood clots forming in the legs are known as a deep vein thrombosis or DVT, which can be a very serious complication of any surgery. To reduce the risk of blood clots in the legs with a thigh lift or any cosmetic surgery, it is important to get up and walk frequently after surgery. In addition, you will likely get an injection of a blood thinner (heparin) immediately before surgery. Heparin does not tend to increase bleeding with surgery be helps to reduce the risk of DVT’s.
In addition to the blood thinner injection, sequential stockings or foot pumps are placed prior to the induction of anesthesia which force the flow of blood through the veins in the legs to prevent pooling during the surgery and in the recovery room. In addition, patients are encouraged to get up to walk frequently for short distances after surgery and to move their legs and feet while in a bed or chair every fifteen to twenty minutes.