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Liposuction Recovery


Recovery from liposuction range from days to months - depending on the area that was treated.  Normally, within one to two weeks after the procedure, your daily routine and life is continued in the normal fashion it was before the surgery. As with all surgeries however; recovery time will vary from patient to patient, but most will return to normal after two weeks and start experiencing the liposuction results over the next several months.

Liposuction is a very traumatic procedure for the tissues and the lymphatic system. The lymphatic tissues, or the tiny vessels that remove fluid from the tissues, can be compromised during liposuction.  It is this reason that the swelling lasts so long, however; once these vessels re-establish themselves it will help tremendously with removing this fluid.  

Swelling from liposuction can take up to six months. The rate of dissipation of the swelling is often dependent on many factors such as technique used. Remember, like all plastic surgery procedures it is going to take time to see the final result and having patience during the recovery period will help you stay focused on that goal. 




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Your liposuction cosmetic procedure will either be performed in the following:

  • hospital

  • free standing ambulatory facility

  • office based surgical suite


During the procedure medications will be administered for the patient's comfort during the surgery.  Your plastic surgeon and yourself will decide what type of anesthesia will be best for you. 

Choices for anesthesia:


The anesthesiologist that will be monitoring your anesthesia will have several monitors to check heart rate, blood pressure, pulse and the amount of oxygen circulating in the blood.  There might be some discomfort after the surgery, however this is controlled with medication. 


A compression bandage will be applied to the liposuction area:


Your plastic surgeon will be giving you post operative instructions on how long you should be wearing the garment and how to remove it so that you may shower.  It is important to stay on track with what your surgeon has advised for your post operative care. 




                                       2010 Copyright ADAM, Inc. - Used with permission                



What to expect 24 hours after your liposuction procedure:

  • Patients will need to have someone responsible drive themselves home from the surgery center.

  • You should make arrangements for a responsible adult to be with you for the first 24 hours after surgery.

  • You will be instructed to rest after your procedure.

  • The day after surgery, you will need to move around a bit to promote blood circulation.

  • Pain medication along with an antibiotic will be given to the patient. An anti-enemic (anti-nausea) medication will be given to the patient as well. It is important that you take these medications as prescribed.

  • Have your bed set up in an area that is easily accessible - so you do not have to climb any stairs.

  • Pillows or cushions placed behind your back and under the knee area will make you more comfortable.

  • The patient will need to wear a support garment continuously for two to three weeks.

  • Drainage of the excess solution out of the incisions

  • Do not take aspiring or certain anti-inflammatory medications after surgery. Read our "Medications to Avoid"

  • No smoking for a while after surgery.

  • Drains are used for large volume liposuction





Liposuction involves the infusion of anesthetic solution into the areas where the fat removal is to be done. Depending on the procedure or type of liposuction you are having, the volume is at least equal to or greater than the volume of fat removal anticipated. This solution makes the procedure less painful and also helps with diminishing potential bleeding. 

During the liposuction procedure the fat is of course suctioned, however; there will still be some residual local anesthetic solution left inside the body. It is normal for the patient to see fluid leaks out of the liposuction incision for the first 48 hours. Leaking out all of this solution is beneficial, as there will be less risk for a collection of fluid (or a seroma) to occur in the space where the fat was suctioned out. The more drainage that occurs the better it is in regards to bruising.  Most surgeons will recommend wearing a compression garment to limit the ability of fluid to accumulate - allowing the excess fluid to drain out.

  • The first few days following the liposuction procedure can be messy for the patient. 

  • You will need to make sure you have lots of absorbent pads on hand to help soak up some of the drainage. 

  • Having a second compression garment is wise, as that way you can always have one to wear while you are washing the other one.

  • Make sure you get some plastic to cover your mattress, so that the blood tinged solution that leaks out will not stain.

  • Wearing loose garments - like a running suit will be easy for the patient to get in and out of during recovery.





The following is a guideline with what you can expect during the first few couple of weeks with the recovery period.

  • After tumescent liposuction, the anesthetic solution from surgery drains from the incisions.

  • Dressings will be temporarily removed within several days at your first post op appointment.

  • This is done so that the surgeon can examine the treated areas.

  • Swelling and bruising is to be expected and can last for a few weeks.

  • Numbness in some areas where the procedure was done is normal - it might take several weeks for the feeling to return.

  • If sutures have been used, these are removed within ten days after surgery.

  • Patients are able to move around normally and most return to their jobs with very minimal discomfort.

  • Patients should wear the compression garments for several days after liposuction.

  • Walking will become increasingly easier for the patient as each day passes.





The following is a guideline with what to expect with your liposuction procedure during the first few months.

  • Swelling might last a couple of months after liposuction.

  • The final result will be evident during this time

  • Skin can sometimes be loose immediately after liposuction, but using the compression garment will help re-contour your new silhouette. 

  • Skin elasticity is dependent on age and genetics - and most patients will see some tightening occur within six months time.

  • Liposuction incision spots should be cared for to make sure no infection happens.

  • Surgeons will have a series of post operative appointments for the patient so that he or she can monitor healing.

  • If a patient has had large volume liposuction, the recovery time will be longer.




                                        2010 Copyright ADAM, Inc. - Used with permission




Post Operative Depression can occur after liposuction. This depressive mood is similar to post partum depression. The incidence of post operative depression is much higher than most patients realize - and sometimes this area of what to expect during recovery is not fully addressed during the consult.

Liposuction is a procedure that provides a transformation in which alters your body. It also changes your image to others with the way the perceive you. Some patients have a difficult time adjusting to their new image, however; with time the old you will shine through.


What contributes to Post Operative Depression:

  • General Anesthesia

General Anesthesia can remain in your body tissues for up to three weeks. These chemicals affect you both physically and emotionally and the residual side effects include lethargy, depression, bouts of weepiness or despair. Sometimes these side effects of the anesthesia increase in proportion to the age of the patient.

  • Pain medication

Narcotic pain management is prescribed during your post operative recovery period. Narcotic pain medication can cause depression in some patients.

  • Physical Restrictions

No one enjoys having to stay in bed recovering. Patients who have their usual routines suddenly altered with making sure they take the time out for healing. 

The following feelings are normal during the post operative period:

  • restlessness

  • boredom

  • helplessness

  • uselessness

  • lack of physical activity can alter the supply of endorphins


  • Bruised and experiencing "Swell Hell"

During the recovery period, most patients look and feel terrible physically - which can add to feeling terrible emotionally as well. 


  • Remembering that this is a temporary impasse

Remembering that all the following contributors to post surgical depression are temporary. The most important thing to remember is that "time heals". Having patience during the recovery period is hard to do, but keeping your eye on the end result will help you stay focused.








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