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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.