Is There Any Alternative to Thigh Liposuction for Someone with Very Poor Skin Elasticity?

I'm 28 years old, 5'4, and 120 pounds, very athletic, but with a pear shape (32-25-38) and large "saddlebags" on my outer thighs. I have extremely poor skin elasticity and terrible stretch marks on my thighs, butt, calves, basically all the way down my legs, along with cellulite on my thighs. Is there ANY sort of procedure that can work for reducing the size of my thighs and/or reduce the appearance of the stretch marks there? I know liposuction is likely unwise.

Doctor Answers 3

Poor Skin and Liposuction of Legs

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    There is a difference between poor skin from skin laxity issues and poor skin from cellulite.  If you have lipodystrophy of the legs, liposuction may improve the look in terms of contour in the case of cellulite ridden skin but not in a patient with skin laxity issues.  If you have both as you say, then surgery may not be appropriate.  You will need an examination.  Find the plastic surgeon with ELITE credentials who performs hundreds of liposuction procedures each year.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Liposuction improves body proportions. If skin tone is poor, a lift procedure may be necessary.

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First, you would likely benefit from liposuction.  This will help correct your body disproportion.  However, it will do little for cellulite and nothing for stretch marks.  You may be a candidate for an outer thigh/buttock lift if you really want to improve the skin tone.  Remember that there is a lot of marketing of "laser liposuction" and other gadgets that are promoted to improve skin tone.  But there is no scientific validity to these claims.  I personally use ultrasonic liposuction because ultrasound does have some specificity for fat cells, but I am not sure that it significantly improves skin contraction, which is likely determined mainly by your genes, plus any history of substantial weight loss.  There is no effective treatment for stretch marks apart from cutting them out.

I've attached a link to the outer thigh lift part of my website so you can learn more about this procedure.  Usually young patients start with liposuction, which does not burn any bridges.  You can always return later for a thigh/buttock lift. 

Eric Swanson, MD
Kansas City Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Thigh surgery options

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Thanks for your question.  Without photos or an in-person examination, it can be difficult to give you an accurate answer.  I will give you some generalizations.  You are right that liposuction alone may not be a good option for someone with poor skin elasticity.  There are some other liposuction alternative such as SmartLipo Triplex, which is laser-assisted liposuction, that can improve skin quality some.  The addition of the laser allows for easier fat removal as well as some skin tightening by heating the skin from underneath.  Another option is a thigh lift, which involves surgical removal of fat and skin.  This option is sometimes best for someone with very poorly elastic skin.  Consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon for answers to your questions.

Naveen Setty, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 78 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.