Everything You Need to Know About "Thighlighting," Hollywood's Newest Plastic Surgery Trend
Women are looking to stars like Bella Hadid and Jennifer Lopez as inspiration for their leg procedures.
If you thought butt implants and lip injections were as far as women in Hollywood went to attain flawless figures, think again. The newest hot body parts — stealing focus from the rear ends that were front and center the last few years — are legs. For that reason, "thighlighting" is the name given to a new wave of plastic surgery procedures that are combined for full leg makeovers. Thigh lifts, calf implants, contouring of the inner and outer thighs, and of course, liposuction, are all part of the deal.
“Thighs are always an area of concern for women,” says Beverly Hills’ Dr. Gabriel Chiu, adding that red-carpet trends now mean the thigh is exposed from various angles. “Also, thighs are an area that makes a dramatic difference in the overall body. When contoured right to elongate the legs, they can help create a better proportion, thus the entire physique looks leaner and longer.” Doctors across the country are now offering plans that address the entire leg, like Kardashian-loved plastic surgeon Dr. Simon Ourian, who has showed off his noninvasive version of thigh contouring on Instagram.
It’s not enough to simply strive for a thigh gap anymore. For his thigh-shaping treatments, Dr. Chiu uses custom cannulas for lipo on each side that take care of variations of fat that settle or adipose tissue that causes bulges, bumps or misshapen areas. The result: “A sleek proportion, size, shape and contour that best matches their body,” he says.
As simple as it sounds, it’s wise to realize there’s a lot happening below the surface. Dr. David Amron, FAAD founder and medical director at The Roxbury Institute, is the leading lipedema specialist in the country and spends 12 hours a day doing these procedures. “I see many women who are in good shape and can weigh literally 110 pounds but who just do not have the best or ideal proportion or sculptural shape to their thighs,” he says. He adjusts irregularities and improves contouring to create more symmetry with the knee and calf. “I have a specific way of addressing my thighlighting, which I refer to as body blending.”
Dr. Amron sees his detailed approach as similar to that of a photographer. “It’s the art of fine-tuning so there is nothing in disproportion and we maximize the best look from every single angle,” he says. His treatment protocol takes three and a half hours of methodically maneuvering the cannula to contour without a break from the knee cap to the gluteal crease, wrapping around to blend the area as one. The doctor warns against spot treatments that can ultimately create even more “disproportionate irregularities or artifice where the areas around the reduction push back against it for a disparity.”
Miami-based Dr. Rian Maercks has noticed a surge of A-list celebrities and WAGs (wives and girlfriends of athletes) coming in for these treatments and requesting legs like Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Karlie Kloss, Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner. These leggy gamines are the antidote for women who complain of “lack of buttocks projection, saddle bag area fullness, lack of a thigh gap and the appearance of cellulite,” says Dr. Maercks. To combat these issues, he uses a combination of specialized liposuction and lipodissection (dissecting the tissues without suction), incisional techniques for those who have a large amount of excess skin from significant weight loss, and noninvasive techniques such as infrared light, laser, radio frequency and ultrasound for those with less to treat. Liposuction causes bruising, by the way, and the areas must have compression for six weeks.
“I think the widespread fitness crazes we have seen over the past years have drawn people’s attention toward the legs,” says Dr. Maercks. That opinion is shared by Manhattan’s Dr. Norman Rowe, who has shaped the thighs of A-list female celebrities and top social media and Hollywood influencers — also citing J.Lo, Jenner and Diaz as inspiration. His techniques also include BodyFx, a nonsurgical contouring procedure that kills fat cells, tightens skin and improves the appearance of cellulite; and FormaPlus, a skin-tightening procedure that improves tone and laxity by creating new collagen. These require six to 10 weekly sessions and annual maintenance, but there is no downtime. Mild swelling for two weeks is expected with ThermiTight, a one-and-done minimally invasive in-office procedure that uses a small probe inserted under the skin to heat and melt fat, causing the skin to tighten and contract.
Those having these treatments now, Dr. Chiu says, can recover from the swelling and be ready to hit the gym full-time before “the red-carpet season finish line.” And there’s no doubt they will. Adds Dr. Rowe, “[Legs are] a trend that has always been here and I do not anticipate that it will be leaving us anytime soon.”