Overview of Recovery After Liposuction

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Liposuction, also known as lipoplasty, liposculpture, suction lipectomy, or lipo, is a minimally invasive cosmetic surgical procedure that removes excess fat from a localized area of the body with a thin, hollow tube known as a cannula. Liposuction is not a substitute for losing weight and exercising. It is not effective in eliminating cellulite or tightening loose and sagging skin.

The cannula is inserted through incisions made in areas of the body and is moved to loosen excess fat and suction it using a vacuum or a cannula-attached syringe. The areas of the body that have been treated will appear slimmer and contoured.

Candidates for liposuction should be in good overall health, be within 30% of their ideal weight, and have one or more areas of fat that do not respond well to diet or exercise.

Liposuction is used to target areas on the thighs, abdomen, arms, back, hips, buttocks, flanks, chest, face, calves, and ankles. Liposuction can be performed alone, or in with other surgical procedures, such as ​abdominoplasty.

In the Recovery Room

After the liposuction procedure and before transferring to the recovery room, you will be placed in a compression garment that was custom ordered and fitted prior to the procedure. You will typically be discharged from the recovery room an hour after the procedure.

You will be monitored while in the recovery room. Vital signs will be checked, including blood pressure and oxygen levels, and you will be observed for signs of nausea or dizziness.

Upon discharge from recovery, you should have the following supplies ready for the return home:

  • Comfortable, loose clothing
  • Dark towels to place on the car seat to absorb leaking fluids
  • Pillows to rest on
  • Bottled water
  • Soda crackers for nausea
  • Pain medication

First 48 Hours

There will be a mild to moderate amount of pain during recovery from liposuction. This should be easily controlled with oral medications such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) with codeine. The pain should begin to decrease within 48 hours.

During the first 24 hours, you can expect to see some discharge of fluid from the liposuction incisions. This is normal and should be no cause for alarm. Bruising is also common.

Call your healthcare provider immediately if you experience a significant increase in pain or develop a high fever.

First Two Weeks

For the first five days after the procedure, you will need to keep the compression garment on 24 hours a day. Move every two hours to prevent the formation of blood clots. This will also help reduce swelling.

In addition to resting and drinking plenty of fluids, you will need to avoid bathing or showering. Instead, you can give yourself a sponge bath and ask a loved one to help wash your hair over the kitchen sink.

On the fifth day, you will return to the office for a post-operative visit. The compression garment will be removed so that you can be examined.

For the next nine days, the compression garment needs to be worn 24 hours a day and removed only for showering. Light exercise, such as walking or stretching, should be included as part of the treatment plan.

First Month

You can return to work the second week after the procedure. During the third and fourth weeks after the procedure, the compression garment should be worn for 12 hours a day.

In the fourth week, normal activities and exercising can resume. It can take several months for the swelling to resolve and the results of the liposuction are completely revealed.

5 Ways to Speed Healing

  • Reduce salt. Salt increases water retention and promotes swelling.
  • Eat protein. Protein aids in healing and maintains lean muscle mass.
  • Move. In the early stages, exercise without increasing your heart rate. Walking at a regular pace is ideal.
  • Hydrate. Drink no less than eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
  • Avoid tight waistbands. Tight waistbands and belts slow the drainage of fluids.
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