Does Thighplasty for Upper Thigh Laxity After Massive Weight Loss Require a Vertical Incision?

Michele A. Shermak, Jessie Mallalieu, David Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: After massive weight loss (MWL), many patients present with concerns about skin excess and laxity. The thigh is one of the more complex regions to address in MWL patients because of the differing degree, location, and quality of skin excess and fatty tissue, as well as surgical risk factors. Objective: The authors describe a technique called the anterior proximal extended (APEX) thighlift to effectively treat upper thigh skin excess with a hidden scar while also enhancing adjacent body regions. Methods: A review was performed of 97 MWL patients who underwent thighlift surgery between March 1998 and October 2007. Eighty-six women and 11 men, with average weight loss of 146 lb and average body mass index (BMI) at contouring of 29.8, were included in the study. The risk factors that were assessed included age, gender, medical conditions, tobacco use, BMI, weight of skin excised, and surgery performed. The outcomes that were assessed included wound healing and lymphedema. Extended vertical thighlift was performed in 11 patients and anterior superior thighlift in 86 patients. Results: Complications of thighlift included wound healing problems (n = 18; 18.6%); lymphedema (n = 8; 8.3%); cellulitis (n = 7; 7.2%); seroma (n = 3; 3.1%); and bleeding (n = 1; 1%). On multivariate statistical analysis, age and BMI were found to impair healing in the entire thighlift group. For patients with a BMI greater than or equal to 35, the odds ratio (OR) for a wound healing complication was 13.7 (P = .03). Hypothyroidism was strongly associated with lymphedema, with an OR of 23 (P = .06). Extended thighlift trended toward lymphedema (OR = 16.7; P = .08). Conclusions: Thighlift can be a satisfying procedure for both the patient and surgeon because it provides aesthetic improvement in terms of skin excess and laxity. The APEX thighlift is a new technique that expands upon those previously described in the literature to effectively treat upper thigh laxity with a hidden scar after MWL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-522
Number of pages10
JournalAesthetic surgery journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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