What Should I Know About Liposuction Recovery?

Josie Myers

The time and intensity of liposuction recovery varies greatly from patient to patient. Each person's physical makeup affects how efficient their bodies are at healing. Almost all who get liposuction are able to resume their regular activities within two weeks, with full recovery considered complete with a few months.

Liposuction is a cosmetic procedure used to improve the body's contour by removing excess fat deposits.
Liposuction is a cosmetic procedure used to improve the body's contour by removing excess fat deposits.

All patients should plan on having a helper to assist them through the first day after surgery. Patients are groggy from the medications and anesthesia for the first 12 hours or so. Nausea is a common side effect of both the surgery and medications, so patients should avoid acidic fruit drinks and water, which could make the symptom worse.

Reviewing a surgeon's previous work may help a patient understand the results that can be expected following a liposuction procedure.
Reviewing a surgeon's previous work may help a patient understand the results that can be expected following a liposuction procedure.

During the early days of liposuction recovery, rest should be alternated with as much walking as possible. The body requires rest to heal, while walking helps circulation, aiding in recovery and prevents clotting. Some pain is expected with movement but can be eased with the medications prescribed by the surgeon. As with any surgical procedure, the pain should not be unbearable and patients should listen to their body's signals about when it is time to stop and rest.

In some types of liposuction a local anesthetic can be used, allowing the patient to remain awake during the procedure.
In some types of liposuction a local anesthetic can be used, allowing the patient to remain awake during the procedure.

There is mild to moderate pain expected during liposuction recovery. The doctor will prescribe pain medication along with antibiotics that will help to fight infection while reducing everyday pangs. Some patients find that massage with oil around the suctioned area not only helps with pain, but can help improve skin elasticity and smoothness. Usually the pain has subsided enough with a few days that many patients are able to return to their non-physical jobs within the first week.

Liposuction for belly fat is the most popular liposuction among men and women.
Liposuction for belly fat is the most popular liposuction among men and women.

The incision where the liposuction tool was placed will be open following the surgery. Doctors leave this open so that the liquid can drain from it, which quickens the healing process and minimizes bruising. This drainage is a blood-tinged liquid, usually a pink or orange color that will last the first day or two. It is best for patients to expect this and plan ahead with appropriate bed coverings so that their best sheets are not stained. Also be advised that baths will not be allowed until these incisions have healed.

Itching during healing and skin recovery is common and can be reduced by rubbing petroleum jelly on the area up to three times a day for the first six weeks.
Itching during healing and skin recovery is common and can be reduced by rubbing petroleum jelly on the area up to three times a day for the first six weeks.

Patients are required to wear compression garments over the surgery site for at least the first two days of liposuction recovery. Some doctors advise slightly differently and their orders should always be followed. When the doctor gives the order to remove the garments for the first time, usually for a shower, patients should once again have a helper handy. The removal of the garments for the first time brings about a faint sensation and many patients find they need a hand to keep stable and many need help rewrapping after their shower. Within a few weeks, most people are able to remove their compression garments for good.

Certain types of undergarments can be worn to lend a sleek appearance to a flabby stomach in lieu of liposuction.
Certain types of undergarments can be worn to lend a sleek appearance to a flabby stomach in lieu of liposuction.

The long-term healing involved in liposuction recovery is a fairly easy process. Swelling may take months to go away completely, while bruising is usually gone by about eight weeks. The loose skin around the liposuction site will tighten over time, usually by six months. Itching during healing and skin recovery is common and can be reduced by rubbing petroleum jelly or heavy lotion on the area up to three times a day for the first six weeks. Many patients report feeling phantom pains or tingles for up to nine months following surgery.

Liposuction procedures are performed under general anesthesia.
Liposuction procedures are performed under general anesthesia.

Many patients are concerned about the scarring that will come from a procedure like this. Since the liposuction procedure only requires small holes in the skin, any permanent scarring will be small. The scars usually appear worst at about three months and slowly flatten and fade from that point forward. Over the counter scar treatments like Vitamin E can aid in their disappearance.

Regular checkups with the surgeon will monitor healing. These usually take place at one month, two months, three months and six months. Any severe or unusual symptoms during liposuction recovery should be addressed to the surgeon immediately. Although liposuction is a relatively simple procedure, there are risks as with any surgical procedure, and patients should always be aware of any unusual signals their bodies are giving.

A patient may be groggy for up to 12 hours following a liposuction due to the anesthesia.
A patient may be groggy for up to 12 hours following a liposuction due to the anesthesia.

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Discussion Comments

AshleyJohn

I believe that a tummy tuck is better than liposuction. The process of sucking away fat from your body creeps me out. And recently I read about this new version of tummy tuck known as belt lipectomy or circumferential tummy tuck. In this extra skin and fat are removed from the entire torso rather that at the region below the bikini level. The recovery is longer though.

anon359297

I am in perfect health and have always had a high tolerance for pain (tummy tuck, natural childbirth). But this pain is something else. It is a relentless stabbing.

I look beautiful but I feel horrible and am six weeks out. I cannot enjoy my vacation or how I look. The pain/swelling has worn me out. I would not recommend this to anyone, especially women with jobs and kids.

The pain, the swelling and that garment is horrible. Exercise and push the plate away! I had flanks, abs, bra roll and upper butt!

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