If you’ve heard any of the buzz about thighlighting, you may have assumed it involved shimmery lotion or leg makeup for leaner-looking stems. But this trend takes things up a notch—or 10.
Thighlighting is a new term for a collection of plastic surgery procedures that add up to full-leg makeovers: think thigh lift, calf implants, inner and outer thigh contouring, laser procedures, and liposuction. A-listers with enviable gams like Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Jennifer Lopez are said to be driving the trend—as are red-carpet gowns that put the spotlight on this new hot body part.
The desire for flawless legs is actually part of a larger trend, says Neil Sadick, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College and past president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. Whereas the focus in plastic surgery was once on the face, he's noticed a new interest in whole-body rejuvenation: "There is now more of an emphasis on improving other places of the body,” he says, including the arms and hands too.
While "thighlighting" may be the latest craze, the treatments involved are not new. “The various procedures that can be used to improve leg appearance have been around for a while,” says New York City board-certified plastic surgeon Constance M. Chen, MD.
If a woman wants to alter how her legs look, however, Dr. Chen recommends surgery only as a last resort. "It is best to start with diet and exercise," she says. Lifestyle changes won't lead to immediate results like surgery, but it's the less invasive route, she notes. After all, going under the knife comes with real risks. Liposuction can damage nerves, muscles, and blood vessels; worsen cellulite; and lead to changes in skin sensations, among other complications. Implants can cause their own problems, since they involve placing a foreign body in your tissues, Dr. Chen notes.
If you are considering any procedures on your legs (surgical or not), it’s important to put your safety first. Dr. Sadick recommends asking your doc how many of these procedures they’ve performed. And remember, there isn't one treatment that does it all, he notes. So if a doctor tells you that—or talks about how easy it'll be to walk away with Bella Hadid’s stems—see someone else.
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And keep in mind, your legs are amazing just the way they are. They carry you through your days—and can take you up mountains, across finish lines, and from one end of town to the other. If you catch yourself obsessing over cellulite or thigh jiggle or any other so-called imperfection, try focusing on all your legs can do, rather than how they look. You may find that you see them in a whole new light.