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  • What To Expect: Liposuction Recovery

What To Expect: Liposuction Recovery

  • Neodyne
  • March 28, 2022

Liposuction is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery treatments in the country. This surgical procedure is designed to remove fat from certain parts of the body, such as the abdomen, buttocks, hips, and thighs. Even if you haven’t considered getting liposuction, you’re probably familiar with the procedure since it’s become so commonplace nowadays. 

Yet, just because liposuction is common doesn’t mean it’s a quick, easy, and painless process. Liposuction is a serious surgical procedure and it will take some time to recover from it. In fact, the recovery time for a liposuction procedure can take anywhere between one and three months. During this time, your body is especially vulnerable to infections and complications that can cause pain or discomfort. That’s why you need to be careful and take care of yourself during liposuction recovery. 

In this article, we take an in-depth look at the liposuction recovery process and walk you through the liposuction recovery timeline. This allows you to set realistic expectations if you’re interested in undergoing a liposuction procedure in the near future. We also share tips on how you can effectively recover from a liposuction procedure and lower the risk for complications. 

To learn all about liposuction recovery and what it entails, read from start to finish.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Lipo?

Liposuction recovery time will depend on a number of factors. For example, the area that’s being treated and the amount of fat being removed during the procedure can impact recovery time. Other factors such as your age and general health can play a role in how long your liposuction recovery timeline ends up being. 

In many cases, the liposuction recovery timeline for patients is around four to six weeks. However, this is only an estimate, and even after those four to six weeks, you may still not be completely recovered. In some cases, liposuction recovery time can be as long as three months

In addition to the factors above, your liposuction recovery time will depend on how well you care for yourself and follow your surgeon’s instructions post-operation. It’s important to carefully follow all post-operative care instructions, take all required medications, and go to any follow-up appointments in order to expedite recovery and minimize the chances of complications. 

The Liposuction Recovery Timeline

As we stated in the previous section, the liposuction recovery timeline can be as brief as a few weeks or stretch out for up to three months. Thus, each individual’s liposuction recovery timeline will look a bit different. At the same time, there are generally a series of distinct recovery phases when it comes to liposuction procedures.

Surgeon preparing to perform liposuction procedure

Below, we take a closer look at each phase in the liposuction recovery timeline. This will give you a better understanding of what liposuction recovery looks like, from the days following the operation until six weeks and further. 

Immediately After Operation

While liposuction is relatively safe when you work with a board-certified plastic surgeon, it’s still a significant surgical procedure. As such, it’s normal for patients to experience discomfort, pain, and bruising immediately following the procedure. When you undergo a liposuction procedure, you’ll likely experience the following right after your surgery:

  • Discomfort, pain, or soreness. Mild to moderate pain may begin to set in once the anesthesia used in the surgery wears off. The precise location of any soreness will depend on the part of your body that was focused on during the operation. If possible, consider staying at the hospital overnight, so that your doctor can monitor your condition. 
  • Bruising and swelling. Your surgeon will typically wrap the treated areas with compression garments immediately following surgery in order to limit swelling and promote healthy blood flow. 
  • Limited range of motion. Soreness combined with bruising and swelling will likely interfere with regular movements. You’ll need to take it easy and rest right after the liposuction procedure has been completed.

3 Days Post-Operation

Your doctor will give you liposuction recovery instructions that you need to follow in the days after your surgery. You’ll likely need to continue wearing compression garments in order to minimize swelling and help with circulation. Additionally, you may be prescribed pain medication that can help with the discomfort and soreness you’ll experience in the few days post-surgery. 

Your doctor may also place drains on incision sites in order to eliminate excess fluid build-up. If you do have drains, these will generally be removed around a week after the initial surgery and your doctor will provide you with instructions for how to manage them. 

Weeks 1-2

Some of the pain and discomfort that occurred immediately after the surgery should begin to subside within one to two weeks. Patients are encouraged to gently massage the treated area in order to break up pockets of fluid and promote blood flow. 

At this point, some movement each day is also recommended in order to encourage healthy blood flow and prevent blood clots. If you’re able, try to get up and walk around every two to three hours. However, avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise, and as always, listen to your body. 

Plastic surgeons will often schedule a follow-up appointment about a week after the liposuction procedure. At this follow-up appointment, you can check in with your doctor and express any questions or concerns you may have so far during the recovery process. 

Weeks 3-5

After about a month, you may begin to notice the positive effects of the liposuction surgery. The treated area will likely look slimmer and much of the pain will have subsided. Your doctor may also give you clearance to start doing light exercise.

Bruising and swelling will likely persist for a few weeks after the operation. Around this stage, it’s important to keep following your doctor’s liposuction recovery instructions and keep an eye out for any lumps, severe discolorations, or other abnormalities. 

After 6 Weeks

After six weeks, you will likely see significant results from your liposuction surgery. Even if some swelling still lingers, the majority of swelling, bruising, and discomfort should have subsided. You should also face fewer restrictions concerning your physical activity—however, speak with your doctor before engaging in weightlifting or another type of strenuous exercise.  

Liposuction Recovery Tips

For the most part, liposuction recovery will rely on the body’s natural healing process. This can take time and patience, as the body doesn’t recover from a major surgery overnight. You also must take steps to facilitate this healing process. This includes following your doctor’s liposuction recovery instructions, checking in with your doctor when you have questions or concerns, and taking care of your body post-surgery.

Patient attending liposuction follow-up appointment with doctor

While liposuction recovery time tends to take a few weeks at minimum, there are things you can do to potentially speed up the healing process and ensure your continued health as you recover. Check out our list of liposuction recovery tips below. 

Follow post-op instructions

As we’ve mentioned throughout this post, it’s absolutely crucial to follow your doctor’s post-op instructions over the entire course of your recovery. Your doctor is a trained medical professional and the post-op instructions are provided to you for your own safety. 

Don’t just follow post-op instructions in the days immediately following your surgery—continue to follow your doctor’s instructions in the weeks and months after surgery to ensure your safety and prevent complications.  

Stay hydrated

While staying hydrated is always beneficial for your health, it’s especially important as you recover from a liposuction procedure. A surgical procedure like liposuction can weaken your immune system and drain your body of fluids. It’s essential that you replenish those fluids and continue to stay hydrated throughout recovery in order to ward off infections and stay in good health. 

Eat your fruits and vegetables

Maintaining a balanced diet can help expedite the recovery process and support your body as it heals. Make sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet, as some of these have anti-inflammatory properties and contain essential nutrients. 

If you want to eat healthy in the days or weeks following your liposuction surgery, consider meal prepping before undergoing the procedure. This way, you won’t have to cook meals as you recover—instead, you can simply heat your meals up and enjoy them at your convenience.  

Get plenty of rest

In order to recover from liposuction, your body needs to get plenty of rest. Being active and putting a strain on your body right after your surgery will not help the healing process. In any case, you’ll likely be tired after surgery and eager to get some rest. Just make sure to listen to your body and don’t push yourself when in pain. 

Incorporate light exercise when authorized

While rest is essential in the weeks following your liposuction surgery, you’ll gradually want to get active again. A few weeks after the initial procedure, your doctor may give you the green light to engage in light exercise. Activities such as short walks can actually help healing by promoting blood flow in your body and preventing the formation of blood clots. However, make sure you speak with your doctor before engaging in any type of exercise. 

Ask for a helping hand

Individual helping friend recover after liposuction surgery

It’s not easy to make a full recovery from liposuction surgery alone. In the days and weeks after surgery, you’ll likely be bruised, swollen, and in pain, with limited mobility. This can make it hard to complete basic day-to-day tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, and running errands. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a friend, family member, or significant other while you recover from liposuction. Getting a helping hand will allow you to get the rest you need while taking care of all the other necessities in your life. 

Liposuction Recovery Complications

Liposuction is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in the United States. It’s a relatively straightforward process that can provide individuals with a newfound sense of confidence. With that being said, it’s a surgical procedure and thus comes with a set of risks. 

You should take these risks into account before undergoing the process in order to weigh the benefits versus potential drawbacks. It’s especially important to be aware of potential risks and complications during the recovery process so that you can identify any problems if they arise. Complications that may occur as a result of liposuction include: 

  • Infection
  • Intense bruising
  • Skin rippling
  • Sharp pain/nerve pain
  • Skin necrosis 
  • Scarring
  • Allergic reaction to medication

Although some of these complications are unlikely to develop, understanding the risks of liposuction surgery can help you be a more informed patient. With this information, you can recognize any potential problems as you recover and report them to your doctor. 

If you experience any of the above symptoms or develop other concerns as you recover from liposuction, contact your doctor right away. Your doctor can help you determine the best course of action in addressing any problems or complications. 

Additionally, if you’re interested in undergoing liposuction, make sure to work with a board-certified plastic surgeon who operates out of an accredited facility. Attend an initial consultation and do some research before agreeing to the procedure. Read reviews from a plastic surgeon’s past patients and see if they have any concerning medical board complaints. 

Lastly, since liposuction is a surgical procedure, scarring is one risk that patients are often concerned about. The key in solving this issue is to gain a better understanding of scars and what you can do to stop them. One option is to use embrace®, which is the only FDA-approved scar therapy system designed to prevent the development of raised, visible scars. Consider applying the embrace® Active Scar Defense system after surgery to prevent liposuction scars before they start. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to heal from liposuction?

Liposuction recovery time varies from person to person. Factors such as a patient’s age, general health, and the scope of the procedure can impact liposuction recovery times. In many cases, patients recover in four to six weeks. However, liposuction recovery time can extend up to three months. 

How soon after liposuction do you see results?

The time it takes to see results from liposuction will also vary from person to person. Swelling and bruising may take longer to subside for some than for others. But, in general, many patients will begin to see results about a month after the initial procedure. Significant results should begin to materialize after approximately six weeks. 

What is the fastest way to recover from liposuction?

The fastest way to recover from liposuction surgery is to follow the instructions laid out by your doctor. After the procedure has been completed, your surgeon will provide you with instructions for what you should and should not do in the days and weeks following your surgery. Carefully follow all of your doctor’s advice in order to speed up the recovery process and minimize the risk of infection or other complications. 

What is the most painful day after liposuction?

You’ll likely experience the most intense pain in the days following the liposuction surgery. About two to four day after the procedure, you’ll likely feel discomfort, pain, and tenderness as your body attempts to recover from the surgery. Compression garments, pain medications, and ice packs may be provided to you in order to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. 

Final Notes

Liposuction is a popular cosmetic surgery for a reason. The procedure can provide patients with a boost in self-confidence and improve their body image. Plus, it can be especially useful for pockets of fat that won’t go away regardless of diet or exercise. 

While the road to recovery after liposuction isn’t easy, it’s fairly straightforward. Many patients notice the positive effects of liposuction and experience a full recovery in a matter of six weeks. However, in order to facilitate a quick and effective recovery, you must follow your doctor’s instructions and take care of your body during the healing process. You may also want to take steps to prevent unsightly liposuction scars from developing so that you can feel completely confident in your body. 

Use embrace® after your liposuction surgery in order to minimize the appearance of scars. Our unique applicator uses Stress-Shield™ Technology to control healing and reduce scar formation. This leads to lighter, thinner, and smoother scars. So, whether you want to prevent liposuction scars or mommy makeover scars, order embrace® Active Scar Defense system today to protect your skin against unsightly liposuction scars.

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