Plastic surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center use leading-edge techniques to complete body contouring procedures. Our experts apply the best approach for your needs to reduce the appearance of your inner or outer thighs, helping you achieve a body that’s firmer, more youthful-looking and more proportionate to your overall body image. Common body contouring procedures include lower body lift, thigh lift, buttock lift and upper body lift. 

The specific type of body contouring procedure depends on your areas of concern and your goals. Potential approaches include:

  • Lower body lift: A complete lower body lift treats the buttocks, abdomen, waist, hips and thighs in one procedure.
  • Body lift: A body lift can treat excess skin, cellulite and sagging fatty tissue. Many people who’ve achieved significant weight loss (100 pounds or more) due to bariatric surgery (such as gastric bypass or Lap-Band®) or through diet and exercise are often left with large amounts of heavy, loose folds of skin around the abdomen, arms, thighs, breasts, buttocks and face.
  • Thigh lift: A medial thigh lift is a surgical procedure to reduce excess skin and fat on the upper portion of your inner thigh, giving a firmer appearance. It’s performed by removing a crescent of skin and fat from the upper portion of the inner thigh, creating a horizontal scar. It’s often combined with a lower body lift, which effectively improves your outer thigh. 
  • Upper body lift: An upper body lift reduces excess skin on the front and back of your chest. It’s often combined with an arm lift (brachioplasty).

Why choose us?

When considering body contouring, choose a surgeon with significant experience performing the procedure. Friends, family members or an internist or primary care provider are often helpful in suggesting the best surgeon. 

For the best results, choose a cosmetic surgeon who’s affiliated with a major medical center, such as Cleveland Clinic. Make sure to ask your cosmetic surgeon about their credentials, training and how many procedures they’ve performed. 

Learn more about Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center.

How to Prepare

How to Prepare

Am I candidate for body contouring surgery?

In general, body contouring surgery reshapes specific areas by reducing excess skin (and in some cases, fat), resulting in smoother skin and a better-proportioned shape. 

For thigh lift surgery, good candidates include:

  • People whose weight is relatively stable.
  • People with excess soft tissue along the inner or medial thigh region and/or the outer thigh.
  • Healthy people who don’t have medical conditions that can impair healing or increase risk of surgery.
  • People who don’t smoke.
  • People with a positive outlook and realistic goals for what the surgery can accomplish.
  • People committed to leading a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition and fitness.

The best way to determine if you’re a candidate for body contouring surgery is through a consultation with a plastic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center.

How do I prepare for body contouring surgery?

Preparing for this surgery at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center includes discussing several questions about your health, desires and lifestyle with your plastic surgeon, including:

  • Why you want the procedure, your expectations and your desired outcome.
  • Your medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments.
  • Your use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

Your Cleveland Clinic plastic surgeon may also:

  • Evaluate your general health and any preexisting health conditions or risk factors.
  • Examine and measure your body, including recording detailed measurements and taking photos for your medical record.
  • Discuss your surgical options.
  • Discuss likely expected outcomes of the surgery and risks or potential complications.
What to Expect

What to Expect

How is surgery performed?

The specific type of body contouring procedure your surgeon recommends will be based on the areas you have extra skin and your cosmetic goals. Thigh lift surgery at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center is generally performed in an outpatient setting with the use of general anesthesia. The incision patterns your plastic surgeon will use vary depending on the area or areas to be treated, degree of correction, and patient and surgeon preference. In general, your surgeon will remove excess skin and fat while reducing and redraping the remaining tissue, resulting in more proportionate and smoother body contours.

What are the different types of body contouring procedures?

The specific type of body contouring procedure your surgeon recommends will be based on the areas you have extra skin and your cosmetic goals.

Lower body lift

Lower body lift surgery involves making an incision at the waist or slightly below it, removing excess skin and closing the skin under some tension. The incision length and pattern depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed. A body lift most often treats both the abdomen and the back area, making it circumferential.

A complete lower body lift treats the buttocks, tummy, waist, hips and thighs in one procedure. A circumferential incision around the body removes an apron of excess skin and fat and repositions and tightens tissue.

Medial thigh lift (inner thigh lift)

A medial thigh lift targets the inner thigh. During an inner thigh lift, your surgeon makes an incision at the area where the thigh and pubic area meet. They then remove a wedge of skin and fat, and close the skin. This procedure leads to skin tightening, an improved leg contour and enhanced skin elasticity.

Upper body lift 

An upper body lift improves excess skin in the front and back of the chest. In women, this usually involves a mastopexy (breast lift). In men, this involves a chest lift. 

Upper body lift surgery is often combined with a brachioplasty (arm lift). In general, a surgeon makes incisions around your nipple and in the fold of your breast. The lower incision usually travels all the way around the back. If an arm lift is performed, the surgeon places the incision on the backside of your upper arm. They remove excess skin and lift the chest and upper abdomen through these incisions. 



What results can I expect?

The results of body contouring surgery are visible almost immediately, but it may take several weeks for your final results to fully develop. Over time, visible scars will remain, but your results are long lasting (provided that you maintain a stable weight and general fitness). Scars also improve with time, with maximum improvement requiring one year. 

As your body ages, it’s natural to lose some firmness. However, most of your results should be relatively permanent. View our before and after photos to see results from actual patients. Following up with a plastic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center is the best way to ensure long-lasting results from the procedure.

What is involved in recovery?

After surgery, dressings or bandages will be applied to incisions. A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect after the surgery.

Surgery can be a major procedure and require significant recovery time. You can generally manage pain and discomfort with oral pain medication. A specific diet may be encouraged, and your plastic surgeon will guide you on how to reduce the risk of complications.

One or more small, thin tubes may be temporarily placed under your skin to drain excess fluid or blood that may collect. Deep sutures that dissolve within four months are used to close any incisions. If there are any sutures in your skin, they’ll be removed one to two weeks after surgery. You should have someone else take you home after the surgery and help you out for a couple of days. 

Your plastic surgeon may also provide you with a medical compression garment to wear at all times (except while bathing). You can shower after your surgical dressings are removed, typically two days after surgery.

Your post-surgery activities will be restricted until you’ve had plenty of time to recover. Restrictions may include avoiding exercise and lifting 5 pounds or more. Walking is encouraged after surgery (however, further exercise isn’t recommended until you’ve healed sufficiently).

Most people require four to six weeks of recovery time before returning to normal activities. Generally, they should wait from six to eight weeks before exercising. There can’t be any pressure placed on the treated area. Approximately 75% of the swelling subsides at six weeks and 90% at three months.

Is body contouring surgery safe?

All surgical procedures carry some risk. Risks include:

  • Bleeding.
  • Infection.
  • Separation of incisions.
  • Skin laxity (looseness).
  • Skin necrosis (tissue death).
  • Abnormal scar formation.
  • Formation of a seroma (a mass or lump caused by fluid buildup in tissue or an organ).
  • Asymmetry (unbalanced appearance).
  • Unsatisfactory results.

Rare risks include:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT, a blockage caused by restriction in a vein, possibly leading to the formation of a clot).
  • Pulmonary embolism (PE, a blood clot in the lung).
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack).
  • Pneumonia.

Side effects include:

  • Swelling.
  • Bruising.
  • Soreness.
  • Pain.
  • Numbness.
  • Scars.
  • Depression.
Insurance & Financing

Insurance & Financing

Insurance rarely covers the cost of elective cosmetic surgery and procedures. Please call 216.444.4004 and ask to speak with one of our financial representatives who can explain payment options, including CareCredit financing.