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5 Things You Need to Know About Liposuction Recovery

Recovery from a surgical procedure is different for every patient. There are several things to consider that will play a role in the recovery process, most of which are unique to each patient. Some patients tend to heal quickly, while others take a bit more time. Some patients may experience moderate to severe pain and swelling following a procedure, while others may experience none at all. This fact applies to nearly every surgical procedure’s recovery, including liposuction recovery. 

Though each person and circumstance is different, expectations can still be set for what to expect from liposuction recovery. These expectations are based on the average healing experiences of hundreds of thousands of others who have undergone this procedure. 

In this post, our team at The Plastic Surgery Center will tell you 5 things you need to know about liposuction recovery. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please feel free to call us directly at 318-221-1629 or visit us online. 

What to Expect for Liposuction Recovery

Liposuction, also referred to as lipoplasty, works to slim down and reshape certain problem areas of the body that seem immune to weight loss techniques. Liposuction removes unwanted fat in areas such as the arms, buttocks, thighs, and stomach. Chin and neck liposuction is also growing in popularity. In a nutshell, the procedure helps improve body contouring to meet an ideal and patient-desired image.

Patients often see fantastic results from liposuction surgery, but it does come at a price (aside from the actual cost of the procedure). What we mean by this is that patients opting for liposuction must be willing to set aside enough time to properly recover. Not only must they sacrifice their time, but they must also be willing to endure the pain and discomfort that may come along with recovery. 

Below, we’ll address 5 things you need to know about liposuction recovery before getting the procedure.

1. How Painful is Liposuction Recovery?

Pain is something that cannot be easily quantified, as it is subjective to each person. Imagine pain is a spectrum, but that spectrum is unique to each individual. Some people stub their toe and fall to the ground in instant tears, while others simply brush it off. It comes down to individual pain tolerance and what a person is able to handle. 

With this in mind, the pain level for liposuction recovery varies from person to person. Some patients describe it as a slight discomfort or tightness. Others may feel sore or even itchy around the incision site. Still others describe the pain as ranging from moderate to severe. Once again, we cannot describe exactly how painful recovery is for liposuction because it is unique to each person. We can say, however, that you will likely feel at least some level of soreness or discomfort after receiving this procedure. 

2. How Long After Liposuction are Pain and Swelling Normal?

Directly after surgery, the area that received liposuction will be wrapped in order to reduce pain and swelling. This also assists in preventing the accumulation of blood in the area where fat was removed. The wrap will typically need to remain on your body for at least three weeks. 

Despite how each patient experiences pain during their recovery, it can be expected that the pain will lessen each day moving forward. In most cases, the pain or discomfort should dissipate completely at around one week post-op. Bruising will also be apparent, but should diminish within a week to 10 days. Swelling, on the other hand, may last much longer.

Swelling is a guaranteed side effect of liposuction surgery. You will most likely reach your peak swelling at around 48 hours post-op. The swelling probably won’t go down completely until several months (up to four) after surgery. This may sound discouraging, but it is actually a very natural and necessary part of the liposuction healing process. 

During this time, your surgeon will require you to remain wrapped tight in compression garments or bandages. Not only do these garments aim to reduce and eliminate swelling, but they also promote healthy skin contraction. Your surgeon will also likely prescribe you with medication to help with pain relief. If you do not receive prescription pain medication, ask your doctor if he or she advises you to take an over-the-counter drug. 

3. What is the Recovery Time for Liposuction?

Most patients who receive liposuction are able to return to a light, low-exertion job (such as a desk job) within one to three days post-surgery. Those whose jobs require more physical exertion might need to wait closer to one or two weeks before returning. Of course, this timeline depends entirely on the amount of fat that was removed and the number of areas that were targeted.  

Bending, straining, and lifting of any sort should be avoided for at least the first two weeks. Strenuous activity, such as exercise, should be avoided until four to six weeks have passed since the surgery took place. Even once it is safe to return to strenuous physical activity, you may still notice minor swelling of the area when engaging in it. This may last anywhere from six to nine months after the procedure and is completely normal. 

During your recovery, it is important to stay away from sun and heat exposure. This means no sun tanning, sauna sitting, hot bath soaking, or anything else that may result in excessive body heat. This is because the heat can cause fluid retention and additional swelling, which in turn may prolong your recovery time. 

Even with the guidelines provided, your surgeon will be able to give you a more accurate and detailed recovery plan based on your specific circumstances. When it comes to engaging in any kind of physical activity after your operation, be sure to follow whatever advice your operating surgeon gives you.

4. What Are the Complications Associated with Liposuction?

With any type of surgical procedure comes the risk of complications. Your surgeon will do everything in their power to reduce the likelihood of these complications, but there is no way to eliminate them completely. Some possible complications that may be associated with a liposuction procedure include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Bruising
  • Reactions or problems with anesthesia
  • Lidocaine toxicity
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Change in skin sensation
  • Nerve or muscle damage
  • Numbness
  • Contour irregularities
  • Irregular pigmentation
  • Fat embolism
  • Persistent swelling
  • Kidney or heart problems

The risk of complications may increase as the total area of the body that is being operated on increases. So, for example, those receiving multiple liposuction treatments at once are at a higher risk than those only targeting a small, isolated area.

All of the potential risks that come along with this procedure will be discussed with you in detail during your consultation. At The Plastic Surgery Center, Dr. Forrest Wall will take his time in addressing each and every concern you may have. It is important that you ask him any questions you may have regarding complications or the procedure in general during your consultation. 

5. Does Liposuction Leave Scars?

As the potential for complications remains present with any surgical procedure, so does the potential for scarring. Liposuction is no different. Fortunately, though, the technique used in this procedure requires very small incisions rather than large and lengthy ones. Your surgeon will make tiny incisions into the targeted area and suction the fat out using a device called a cannula. These incisions are generally no more than an inch in length. This means that, if scars do remain from your procedure, they will be relatively minuscule and much less visible than, say, a tummy tuck scar. 

The potential scarring that may come from liposuction essentially depends on the skill and expertise of the surgeon performing the operation. Luckily, our board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Forrest Wall knows exactly what to do in order to achieve the least possible amount of scarring. 

Interested in Liposuction? Contact the Plastic Surgery Center Today!

The experts at the Plastic Surgery Center have been producing successful, long-lasting results for patients in the Ark-La-Tex area for a number of years. Our renowned, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Forrest Wall makes sure that each patient gets the best possible results, no matter what procedure they choose to undergo. If you have any further questions, are interested in liposuction, or are curious about any other procedures we perform, contact our office today! Fill out our online intake form or give us a call at 318-221-1629 to schedule your initial consultation.