4 Ways to Lose Thigh Fat for Good

Exercise and nutrition tips, medical procedures, and more

There's nothing wrong with a little extra thigh fat. But when it comes to excess thigh fat it can sometimes be hard to get rid of. Fortunately, there are a number of methods to help you lose unwanted thigh fat. Exercise and a healthy diet are often recommended as a first-line approach, but for some people, especially those who are overweight or obese, it may not always be enough.

In these cases, medical treatments like thigh sculpting and body contouring or surgical procedures such as laser therapy or traditional liposuction can be more effective, though these methods are expensive and may pose some health risks and complications.

The following methods can help you lose thigh fat and are a mix of natural and medical procedures. Some are simple treatments you can do right at home that cost next to nothing, while others come at an expense and may require surgery.

Evaluate all of your choices with your doctor before you make a decision about the best method for you.

Your healthcare provider can help you to determine the best strategy for fat loss, such as a fat-burning cardio program combined with a nutritious diet plan. In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a specialist to discuss medical options for treatment.

Exercise Program

Woman doing lunges in a gym
istockphoto

Physical activity has a number of positive benefits on your overall health and longevity and is considered to be one of the best things you can do to prevent chronic disease.

A regular exercise program can effectively tone and strengthen your legs, but in some cases, it may not be enough to help you lose the extra thigh fat.

When you start a program to burn calories with regular workouts—even if you focus mostly on leg exercises—you'll see positive changes to your whole body.

Jessica Osborne, an ACE-certified fitness trainer and a former Radio City Rockette, uses her background as a dancer to help her clients sculpt longer, leaner legs. She points out that it's tricky to spot-reduce or lose weight from just one area such as the thighs since exercise usually benefits the entire body. 

Instead, she recommends "cardio-amped" workouts that burn calories for fat loss all over the body. She also advises strength training to shape the quadriceps (front of the thigh) and hamstrings (back of the thigh), which is also an effective method for weight loss.

Jessica Osborne, ACE-Certified Fitness Trainer

A few sets of lunges and squats a day with some pulses at the end, in addition to opting for the stairs, can make a big difference in the way you feel and the way you look.

— Jessica Osborne, ACE-Certified Fitness Trainer

Osborne says that squats, lunges, and walking upstairs are some of the best exercises to target inner thigh fat. "These are three things you can do every day, no matter how busy you are," she says. In her barre classes, Osborne instructs squats, lunges, and traditional barre exercises that replicate functional movements that we do in everyday life.

"It's time to stop sitting into our hips (notice how you're standing when you're relaxing) and start really using our legs and our buns," says Osborne. "A few sets of lunges and squats a day with some pulses at the end, in addition to opting for the stairs, can make a big difference in the way you feel and the way you look."

Nutrition Plan

You may also experience fat loss in your thighs by changing up your diet. While exercise burns calories, fat loss is more likely to occur when you make changes to your daily eating habits in conjunction with an exercise program.

"Cut the sugar, lessen the booze, drink your water, and be physical every day," says Osborne. "These are the keys to your leg goals."

And the good news is that you don't need to go on a strict diet to see results. A low-carb diet is widely touted as an effective weight loss strategy. Cutting back on starchy, refined carbohydrates may help to ease bloating and reduce fat.

Over the long term, regular exercise combined with a healthy eating program that includes lean protein, healthy fats in moderation, and plenty of fruits and vegetables is likely to give you a healthier body and leaner thighs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends reducing your intake of empty calories and keeping portion sizes in control to reach and maintain your healthy body weight.

If you're not sure where to begin, keep a food journal for a week to how many calories you typically eat each day. Then compare that number to the number of calories you burn each day. If you eat more than you should, use a calorie calculator to get a personalized daily calorie target for weight loss.

Medical Treatments

There are a few body sculpting treatments that serve as alternatives to surgery. These treatments are still performed by medical professionals in a clinical setting and may use cooling methods (cryolipolysis), lasers (heat), or ultrasound to reduce fat in specific, targeted areas such as the thighs.

There are also home fat-freezing devices that claim to deliver similar results, but reviews of the devices and their effectiveness are generally mixed.

The following procedures listed here are some of the most popular non-surgical treatments available. Learn more about each one to determine which treatment may be best for you.

SculpSure

SculpSure is a light-based body contouring procedure cleared by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The treatment uses a flat non-suction applicator to delivers a hyperthermic laser to the inner or outer thighs, followed by a cooling treatment. In the weeks following the procedure, fat cells in the treated area start to die off.

Patients may begin to see results as early as six weeks after treatment, but it may take up to 12 weeks to get the full effect.

SculpSure treatments usually last about 25 minutes, and you may experience tingling in the treated area during the procedure. Some patients may also experience bruising.

The total cost of treatment will depend on the number of applicators used and the number of treatments required. According to data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and other sources, the cost of the procedure may range from $1,000–$1,600.

CoolSculpting

Coolsculpting is an FDA-cleared cryolipolysis procedure. This fat-freezing method uses suction with controlled cooling to destroy fat cells. Each treatment generally takes an hour or less, and you may experience mild discomfort from the suction applicator from the intense cooling.

According to Daniel Maman, MD, FACS, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York, treatments like CoolSculpting provide a result that is about 20–30% as effective as surgery (liposuction). Dr. Maman helps patients address thigh fat issues with both surgical and non-surgical treatments, and says that the thighs are often difficult to treat because the quality of the skin in that area is unique.

"The skin on the upper leg has poor elasticity and poor stretch," he says. He points out that the skin in the thigh area is thinner than the skin in other areas of the body. For that reason, Dr. Maman says that simply removing the fat doesn't always solve the problem.

If the pocket of fat in the area is small, Dr. Maman says a treatment like CoolSculpting can work well for many patients. If the area of misplaced fat is larger, then liposuction may be recommended.

Dr. Maman also cautions that if you simply remove the fat without considering the condition of the skin, then the skin may not shrink back and you will be left with sagging skin.

Following a CoolSculpting treatment, some patients also experience bruising or stiffness in the treated area following CoolSculpting. After the procedure, it takes anywhere from 3–12 weeks to see results. Several treatments may be required, and the cost usually starts at around $750 a treatment.

The typical cost for a complete personalized treatment plan, however, averages from $2,000–$4,000 according to the company.

Zerona

Zerona is a cold laser technology approved by the FDA. The device treats a combination of areas usually around the hips, waist, and thighs with low-level laser therapy. The painless procedure creates a pore in fat cells so that the fat leaks out.

Multiple treatments are required for initial results, and most patients require some maintenance. The price of this option will vary based on your provider but a single treatment may start at approximately $175.

However, since several treatments are required, most sources list the average cost at approximately $1,500 or more.

UltraShape

UltraShape is a FDA-approved ultrasound technology. This procedure is can treat fat on the belly, but the device may also be used by a doctor to target fat on your hips, outer thighs, or upper arms.

Candidates for the UltraShape treatment should be able to pinch at least an inch of fat in their trouble spot.

You may experience some bruising and pain with the procedure, but most patients find the procedure comfortable. Treatments generally cost about $1,000, but several treatments may be required.

Surgical Procedures

Medical treatments to get rid of thigh fat are likely to be effective, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution since there are typically different areas of concern regarding fat on the upper thigh.

For example, the inner thighs (either upper or lower) may be an area of extra fat for some patients. For others, the outer thighs are problematic. Some patients are looking for solutions for cellulite, while others may wish to target the pocket of fat that sits above the knee.

It's important to note that treatments designed to get rid of thigh fat will not necessarily get rid of cellulite, but there are different procedures available to help manage this frustrating (but normal) skin condition.

If you choose to undergo surgery to lose thigh fat, your choices include liposuction or a thigh lift.

Liposuction

The surgical removal of fat, or liposuction, is an effective treatment for those who want to reduce thigh fat. There have been new variations of liposuction (such as smart lipo or micro-laser lipo) that promise quick results with minimal downtime.

According to Dr. Maman, traditional liposuction is still the gold standard for fat removal. He says that it takes time to sculpt the thigh area properly, and quick-fix methods can sometimes yield poor results.

Risks of undergoing liposuction include complications such as pain, swelling, excessive bleeding, and changes in skin sensation. It is also possible to get an asymmetric (uneven) result.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of liposuction in 2019 was just over $3,500.

Thigh Lift

A thigh lift or thighplasty involves several different procedures to get the best result. It may involve excising (cutting) and lifting the skin, and performing liposuction to remove excess fat. The procedure is typically used for patients who have undergone significant weight loss and have excess skin (loose hanging skin) in the thigh area.

The cost of the procedure will depend on a number of variables, but because the procedures are performed by a surgeon, in a surgical facility, and under some level of sedation, there are many different fees to consider. The total cost can range from $6000–$10,000 or more depending on a number of factors.

Even though these treatments are likely to be effective at reducing your thigh fat, the procedures are expensive and carry some risk. 

A Word From Verywell

If you're dissatisfied with the appearance of your thighs, boost your body confidence with regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and wearing clothes that complement your body type. But if you've tried to lose the extra thigh fat without success and are seeking alternatives, you may want to consult with your doctor about medical intervention.

Choose a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon who has experience with different treatments and can offer insight into the best treatment for you. Then maintain your results by taking charge of your diet and fitness regimen to stay healthy and balanced for the long run.

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Article Sources
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