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What you need to know about your liposuction recovery


liposuction recovery

Did you know that liposuction is the second most popular cosmetic surgery treatment? In 2018, surgeons performed over 250,000 liposuction procedures in the United States, so if you're considering liposuction, you're in good company.

While liposuction is quite safe and can help to successfully remove stubborn fat pockets from the body, it's still a surgical procedure that requires care and attention for a proper recovery. Knowing what to expect post-surgery can help make the recovery process all the easier.

A few considerations

First, nothing is more important than a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. A personalized consultation will allow an experienced surgeon to give you a more concrete idea of how well liposuction will work for you and what kind of recovery process to expect.

Second, you should also be aware that recovery varies from one individual to the next. Factors such as age, overall health and prior medical history all play a role in determining how quickly you will recover. It's important to let your body heal at its own pace.

Finally, you will want to have realistic expectations when undergoing liposuction. It can be wonderfully transformative when utilized to help meet certain aesthetic objectives, but speaking with a trusted, board-certified plastic surgeon about your goals will help you understand how feasible liposuction is for reaching those objectives.

The recovery process

This is typically an outpatient procedure, which means you can go home the same day, however, if you are having a significant amount of fat removed, you may be required to stay in the hospital overnight for observation.

Regardless of whether or not you have to stay overnight, you will need someone to drive you home when you're cleared to leave. You will be sore and likely feeling residual effects of the anesthesia or pain medication, so it's not safe to operate a vehicle.

The first three days

Your surgeon will have given you a compression garment or elastic bandages to wrap around the treatment areas. It's important to wear these diligently, as they help to reduce swelling and contour your body to its new shape.

You may also have small drains placed at the surgical sites. These prevent fluid from building up around the incisions, which can slow healing. If you have these drains, your surgeon will tell you exactly how to care for them and how long you will have them in.

During the first few days of recovery, you can expect moderate pain and soreness. Your surgeon will have given you pain medication to make this discomfort manageable, so follow your medication schedule closely.

You should plan to limit your activity during this time as well. Your compression garments may restrict your movements some, but it's also important to limit unnecessary activity when possible. It's recommended that you enlist help around the house for these few days, especially if you have young children.

Weeks 1-2

After the initial few days of total rest and moderate pain, you will likely notice a significant reduction in pain and soreness in the week or two following your procedure. Many people can return to work after two weeks, but if you have a particularly physical or demanding job, you may want to schedule additional time off in order to recover more fully.

You will still be required to wear your compression garments during this time as well.

Weeks 3-5

Around the one-month mark is when patients typically no longer feel pain or soreness. You may still see swelling, but this is normal. Swelling can take months to completely subside. At this point, you will likely begin to see visible results as well. Keep in mind that your results will improve as the swelling and bruising continue to heal.

After about four weeks, most people are able to resume light exercise, but any heavy or strenuous activity should still be avoided.

Week 6 and beyond

The six-week mark is where the majority of bruising and swelling should have subsided, but lingering swelling can last a bit longer for some.

You will likely no longer need your compression garments at this point, and your activity levels will no longer be restricted unless otherwise ordered by your doctor.

By this point, you will likely be able to see the full scope of your liposuction results.

Recovery tips

You should not try to rush your recovery, but there are certain things you can do to help your body's natural healing process.

Eat well

Even if you're healthy, surgery is tough on your body. Proper healing requires good nutrition. You can prep healthy meals ahead of your surgery since you likely won't feel like cooking. Be sure to eat well and eat regularly.

Include plenty of fresh fruits and veggies in your diet to help boost recovery and limit inflammation.

Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of broth and water post-procedure. Hydration is a key component of successful recovery. You can infuse your water with fresh fruit if you need a change.

Rest up

Taking it easy and getting plenty of sleep in the first few weeks following your surgery are the best ways to help your body heal.

Take a walk

While exercise is not recommended during your recovery, light movement can actually help to speed your body's healing. If you feel up to it, taking short walks is a great way to get moving without straining your body.

Ask for help

When possible, you should ask for a friend or family member to help you with activities such as cleaning, caring for young children or running errands. You likely won't be able to pick up your children for a few weeks following surgery, and having a full schedule of errands will wear you down.

Liposuction is a great confidence booster

Liposuction can be life-changing for many people. It can be a great way to boost your confidence and help you to feel happier with your appearance. Knowing what to expect during the recovery can help you make a better-informed decision to undergo liposuction and enjoy the journey to a slimmer, more contoured body.


The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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