Liposuction Recovery

Liposuction is a cosmetic procedure that has continued to gain popularity in recent years. In fact, the only plastic surgery procedure that is currently more popular is breast augmentation. Because it has become so common, there are more people than ever searching for information online regarding results, techniques and recovery times. If you have decided that you're interested in the body contouring that liposuction offers, you likely have questions about things like how long it will take to recover and whether or not there will be scarring. This guide will take you through a typical recovery timeline so that you can get a better understanding of what to expect after your procedure.
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Liposuction: What to Expect During Recovery

An Important Caveat

Before you read further, it is crucial to note that every person’s recovery journey will be different. The information below is a generalized guide, but it cannot account for things like your age, weight, goals and medical history. When you schedule a consultation with Dr. Salemy, he will be able to lay out a more detailed and personalized map of how you can expect your recovery to progress.

The Recovery Timeline

The First 72 Hours

Following your liposuction procedure, you will have either compression garments or elastic bandages covering the treated areas. This compression is important because it helps to control any swelling while also encouraging your skin to mold against your new contours. It’s common to have temporary drains in treatment sites as well. This allows for removal of excess fluid and helps to speed the healing process. Your surgeon will have detailed post-op instructions regarding medications and caring for the incisions. You may feel groggy after the procedure, so it’s recommended to ask for written instructions or to have the instructions repeated to the person who is driving you home.

Weeks One and Two

Most people are given prescriptions to help manage the initial pain following liposuction. In general, the pain usually peaks after three or four days and then becomes much more manageable after that. In the first week, it is common to experience swelling and discomfort, and you will want to plan for plenty of rest and only very light activity during this time. You will also be instructed to wear your compression garments as much as possible during these first weeks of recovery. Many people find that the support of compression garments actually helps to ease discomfort and pressure on the treated areas. In a majority of cases, you will be able to resume normal activities after two weeks. However, you should always ask your surgeon before engaging in exercise or other strenuous activities so that you do not aggravate your incisions or slow your healing.

Week Three and Beyond

Most people are fully recovered from liposuction by the four-week mark, and you will likely have had one or two follow-up appointments with your plastic surgeon to gauge your progress. Typically, you will be able to resume a normal level of activity no later than four weeks after surgery. By this time, you should also be able to more clearly see the results of your liposuction procedure. The bulk of the swelling should have subsided, and you should notice that the treated areas are slimmer, firmer and more contoured. For some patients it can take months for swelling to completely diminish, so it’s normal to continue to see improvements for several weeks or months following your surgery.

Common Recovery Questions

Will I Have Scars?

While liposuction is a surgical procedure, the instruments used are extremely small and thin, which means that the incisions are also very small. It’s common to have small scars, but your surgeon will discuss the best incision placements to minimize any visible scarring.

Will My Skin Be Saggy?

Liposuction is only a fat removal procedure, so if your skin lacks elasticity, or you’re having considerable amounts of fat removed at once, you may experience loose skin afterward. Skin may tighten somewhat during recovery, but it is also possible to discuss combining your liposuction with skin tightening treatments with your surgeon if this is a concern.

Do I Have to Wear Compression Garments During Recovery?

Compression garments or elastic bandages are essential to a quick and complete recovery from liposuction. In the initial days following your surgery, you will likely be instructed to wear your compression garment 24 hours a day. Your surgeon will probably give you a schedule of how long you should be wearing your compression garments or elastic bandages in the weeks after your surgery as well.

Compression garments have many functions, but the most important one is to minimize the swelling and bruising in the treated areas. When fat deposits are removed from your body, there is an empty space that results that will need time to heal. Fluids can enter into these cavities and cause problems or slow healing, and compression garments help to prevent this from happening.

Wearing compression garments during recovery also puts pressure on the healing tissue, which not only helps your skin to mold to the new curves of your body more quickly but also helps to limit the appearance of scars.

How Can I Speed Up My Liposuction Recovery?

The fastest route to recovery involves establishing healthy lifestyle habits before and after your surgery and following all of the post-op care instructions closely after the procedure is completed. Even if you believe you are feeling better, it is always best to adhere to all of the instructions that your care team gives you. Additionally, the following additional tips will aid in your recovery:

  • Limit salt and sugar intake to manage swelling and blood sugar.
  • Eat more protein to encourage wound healing and skin repair.
  • Take frequent, easy walks to aid circulation.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to rest.
  • Invest in additional compression garments so that you can rotate them through the wash easily.

Simple self-care steps like staying hydrated, eating healthfully, not smoking or drinking and getting plenty of quality sleep will all help to make your recovery quicker and more complete.


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