How Is A Knee Lift Done?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I am interested in a new procedure that I have read about known as a knee lift. I have ugly rolls of skin just above my kneecaps that I just hate. They make me look like I have old lady knees. I know there is a scar but I think that would be a lot better than what I have now. How is a knee lift done and what is the cost? 

A: Like all body areas, the knees do show the signs of aging. The constant flexion and extension of the knee eventually causes loose skin to appear in folds or rolls above the kneecap. These suprapatellar skin folds can also be exaggerated by the downward descent of the thigh skin which pushes down against the fixed skin on the kneecap.

A surgical knee lift involves the direct excision of these folds of knee skin and leaves behind a curved suprapatellar scar. The creation of this scar in a visible area is the primary reason why it is infrequently performed. This is done through a crescent-shaped excisional pattern. The key to creating the best knee lift scar possible is precise placement of the excision location and to not remove too much skin. Since the width and appearance of scars is highly influenced by the tension they are under. too much skin removal across a joint that repeatedly flexes will lead to a wide and very visible scar.

The knee lift is done under local or IV sedation anesthesia. Long-term suture support is needed to resist the stretching of knee flexion and to help keep the scar as narrow as possible. The knee incisions are taped and ace wraps applied. Patients only need to avoid bending their knees greater than 90 degrees for a month after surgery. Other than that ther are no specific physical restrictions.

For the woman who considers a scar trade-off better than unsightly knee skin rolls, the knee lift can be a very satisfying procedure. Whether done under local or IV sedation anesthesia, the total cost is in the $4000 range.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana