Thigh Lift Recovery: Timeline, Tips, & What To Expect

Written by Kristy Hamilton, MD, FACS, Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon on December 10, 2020 4 Comments

thigh lift scarring

A thigh lift procedure is a plastic surgery procedure that contours the upper legs by removing excess fat and tightening sagging skin. Patients can choose between an outer thigh lift, inner thigh lift, or both. Thigh lift results are permanent, the surgery can dramatically improve the look of the thighs.

It is very important for prospective thigh lift patients to have a firm understanding of the recovery process. Thigh lift recovery can differ greatly from patient to patient based on many characteristics like genetics, age, pain tolerance, their anatomy, and the surgical technique performed. With the prospect of such variability in mind, this blog post will outline the average thigh lift recovery experience as well as tips for making recovery as quick and easy as possible.

Recovery Milestones & Timelines

Day After Surgery

Your thigh lift surgery will take place under general anesthesia. You might feel tired, nauseous, and sore when you first wake up. This feeling is normal and can last for up to 3 hours. Your thighs will be wrapped in bandages, and you may be given a special compression garment. Small drainage tubes will be placed under your skin to drain fluids from your thighs as you heal.

You will need to avoid driving due to soreness and pain medications, so plan to have a friend drive you home and stay with you for the rest of the day. Your thighs will feel sore, especially when walking.  After taking a nap, you will get out of bed and walk around your home to keep your circulation moving.

2-3 Days After Surgery

Swelling and bruising will be most pronounced in the 2-3 days following your surgery. Continue to wear your compression garment and if needed, change your bandages according to your doctor’s instructions.

During this time period, it is very important to minimize movement to protect your incisions as they heal. The thighs are involved in almost every body movement, so you will want to keep your activity to the absolute minimum in the first few days.

7-14 Days After Surgery

After the first week you will return to your doctor’s office for a follow up visit. At this time, your drains and stitches will be removed, and your bandages will be removed or changed.

Continue to wear your compression garment for several weeks. This garment protects your incisions and provides support for your thighs as they heal. Wearing it exactly as advised can improve your results.

Keep movement to a minimum for the first two weeks or more. Avoid stretching your thighs and be cautious when sitting, standing, walking and bending.

Although swelling and bruising will still be present, you will begin to see the improved contour of your thighs within this time frame.

2-4 Weeks After Surgery

After 2 weeks, it is time to seek greater balance between avoidance of movement, and simple, slow walking. Gentle movement will prevent blood clots from forming in your lower limbs. Cautious, easy walking is best, as are simple calf-exercises such as pointing and flexing your feet to stretch the back side of your lower legs.

1-2 Months After Surgery

Around the six-week mark, your incisions should be fully healed and the swelling in your thighs will be at a minimum. Your scars will still be visible, and can range in color from light red to dark purple.

At this time, it is safe to resume most activities. If you are still experiencing moderate swelling, stick to the steady walks and avoid vigorous exercise.

6+ Months After Surgery

After six months, swelling should have subsided completely. Your final results will now be visible, although you may continue to see improvement for up to one year.

Results of a thigh lift are permanent, provided your general health and fitness, and especially your body weight, stays the same.


Pain after surgery is unavoidable, although the level of this pain varies for each individual. You are likely to notice pain the most in the first few days after surgery as the effects of general anesthesia wear off.

To manage pain at home, your doctor will prescribe or recommend oral pain medications. In addition, the following can help ease your experience of pain:

Rest – take time off from work and let yourself rest as much as possible, especially in the first two weeks. Have a loved one or close friend help you with personal tasks.

Hydrate – drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. Hydration reduces risk of complications and speeds recovery.

Move – while excessive movement should be avoided, easy, short walks around your house promote blood circulation which speeds healing and reduces risk of clotting.


Thigh lift surgery generally requires two or more incisions. Scars will never fully disappear, but they are strategically placed where they can be hidden with clothing or the natural folds of the skin.

Everyone’s body reacts differently to scarring. For some, scars fade over time while for others, scars may become darker in color. Those who are younger or have greater skin elasticity generally have less noticeable scars.

With your doctor’s permission, use scar creams or moisturizer on your incision sites to minimize scarring as you heal.

Risks & Side Effects

There are risks to every surgery as well as risks to general anesthesia. When deciding if thigh lift surgery is right for you, discuss the potential risks with your doctor.

Typical thigh lift risks include pain, scarring, asymmetrical results, infection, bleeding, fluid retention, blood clotting in the lower extremities, or the recurrence of loose skin.

Thigh Lift Recovery Tips

To minimize risk and improve outcomes, follow your doctor’s post-operative instructions, which may include the following:

  • Rest as much as you can in the first two weeks
  • Take all your pain medications exactly as directed
  • Minimize movement aside from easy walking for blood-clot prevention
  • Wear your compression garment for three to four weeks or as directed
  • Hydrate and avoid a high sodium diet to avoid fluid retention
  • Resume normal activities gradually, and with caution

Kristy Hamilton, MD, FACS

Kristy L. Hamilton, M.D. is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Houston, Texas. Dr. Hamilton offers the full range of bespoke aesthetic plastic surgery including rhinoplasty, eyelid surgery, facelifts and facial rejuvenation, fat transfer, chin surgery, breast augmentation and lifts, body contouring and liposuction, as well as reconstructive facial and breast surgery. She understands each patient’s individual needs and applies her surgical skill with meticulous detail to create a natural and beautiful result.

4 Responses to “Thigh Lift Recovery: Timeline, Tips, & What To Expect”

  1. Avatar suzanne says:

    Can knee liposuction add to he results ?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Suzanne,

      Knee liposuction can provide great results depending on the specific needs of the patient. As always, we recommend seeing a board certified surgeon for an in-person consultation to find out exactly which treatment is right for you.

      WD Staff

  2. Avatar Donna says:

    I had a thigh lift one week ago. My upper thighs look amazing! However, my thighs above my knees still have much saggy skin. I was told that it will improve with time. Is this common and accurate?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Donna,

      Thanks for reading our post and submitting your great question! It’s definitely hard to say for sure without seeing you for an in-person assessment. It is quite possible for areas around the treatment area to experience improvement. However, it depends upon certain variables like the patient’s elasticity and the amount of sag in the area.

      We would recommend you to reach out to your provider and ask how long they think it will take for your to notice results. You can also talk about a future treatment options to address the area if you find the improvement to be insufficient.

      We hope that helps!

      WD Staff

Leave a Reply