Liposuction is a surgical intervention that consists of removing localized fat deposits in different areas of the body through thin cannulas. In men, the accumulation of fat cells is usually more frequent in the abdomen and hips whereas in women, fat accumulates more commonly on the inner and outer thighs, buttocks, and knees.
Whether you are thinking of getting liposuction plastic surgery or you just had one, in this article we share key information regarding this procedure.
How long does liposuction recovery take?
The area where liposuction was performed will be swollen during 10 to 14 days following surgery. However, you can return to your normal activities once you feel comfortable and people can generally return to work within a few days.
What to expect after liposuction?
After liposuction surgery, it is necessary for the patient to rest for the first 48 hours. From there, daily activities can be gradually reintroduced over a week. However, after surgery, you should wait two to four weeks to start playing sports again.
Movement plays an essential role in healing and also in relieving symptoms. It also allows greater oxygenation of the tissues and therefore, corrects blood circulation, which plays a fundamental role in eliminating swelling and bruising in a short time.
Bruises are collections of subcutaneous, physiological blood after any tissue trauma, whether surgical or not. In this specific case, they are caused by the rupture of the blood vessels caused by the microcannulas. They disappear around 2 to 3 weeks of recovery. In terms of color, these bruises first turn purplish and then yellowish-green after 7 days.
Postoperative swelling is also normal. During the liposuction procedure, there is an increase in fluid stagnation due to the trauma suffered by the blood vessels and lymphatics. To these must be added the fluids injected before surgery. Postoperative swelling usually disappears in 8-12 weeks.
The resulting skin retraction may take a few more months to complete. To speed up and optimize the resolution of swelling and bruising, it is important that the patient follow certain essential rules. Above all, he/she must wear a containment sleeve and undergo lymphatic drainage massages.
Liposuction surgery recovery stages
The postoperative phases of liposuction are generally the following:
Immediately after liposuction
The surgeon will put on a special compression clothing that will serve to exert pressure on the intervened areas.
A few hours after the surgery
A little discomfort usually appears as the anesthesia wears off. However, the level of pain will depend on the areas where the surgery has been performed. In order to avoid any type of fluid changes or dehydration, it is recommended that the patient spend the night in the clinic, while being monitored by doctors.
3 to 5 days after surgery
The patient visits the doctor to remove the garments. This visit also serves to review the cannula incisions that have been made.
A week later
After a week has gone by, patients should undergo a very gentle massage, which will serve to mobilize any type of accumulated fluid. As the weeks go by, the swelling will gradually reduce until it disappears completely.
Two bandages are needed during the surgery recovery stages. It is advisable to wear comfortable compression clothing for plastic surgery procedures for at least 1 month. The immediate postoperative period can cause swelling and pain for 1-2 weeks, which gradually diminishes.
Bruising and edema
Swelling usually resolves in about 3 weeks and is a normal consequence of surgery. After 15 days, the plastic surgeon makes a recommendation for complete cycles of massages or aesthetic medicine treatments in the intervened areas of the body. It is advisable to walk as soon as possible to promote blood circulation.
6 tips for enhanced liposuction recovery
Here is a liposuction recovery timeline:
1. Prepare ahead of time to manage pain
After the operation, you should be accompanied home by a friend or a trusted person. When you arrive at home, you should rest and have all the medications prescribed by the surgeon on hand. Antibiotics and pain relievers can be purchased before surgery so that you can have them ready to use at the right time. In the days after, you can also control the pain with over-the-counter pain relievers (Ibuprofen, for example).
2. Avoid smoking and other nicotine products
Smoking should be avoided before and after any surgery. In particular, you should avoid nicotine and smoke for at least eight weeks before surgery and even later in the recovery process. Nicotine affects the way the body deals during the healing process by constricting the blood vessels and reducing the amount of oxygen supplied to the body and healing tissues.
3. Wear compression garments as directed by your doctor
It is very important to wear compression garments following the instructions given by your plastic surgeon. Compression garments offer a number of benefits: they help control swelling and bruising during the healing phase, improve the profile and support the healing process.
4. Make smooth movements
Just because you are at rest does not mean that you do not have to move at all. In fact, it is essential to perform adequate movements that do not require too much effort for the postoperative recovery phase. It is also important to start walking the next day to promote blood flow and a faster and more efficient recovery.
5. Stay hydrated and eat well
It is normal for the effects of anesthesia and the operation itself to still be felt during the first days of convalescence. These effects can cause some nausea and loss of appetite. You do not have to make an effort to eat a lot, but it is essential that you stay hydrated and eat light and healthy meals.
Likewise, it is advisable to limit your intake of sugar and salt, eat plenty of protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, and drink a lot of fluids. You must be careful and avoid foods that have excess sodium, as they could increase swelling.
6. Pay attention to how your body feels
Physical activities that are too strenuous and tiring should definitely be avoided. Don’t strain, be patient, and wait a few weeks before exercising again. It is essential to listen to the messages that your body sends you. If you notice that you feel tired or experience pain, stop and gradually increase or decrease the intensity of exercise and physical movement.
What are the possible complications from liposuction?
Risks from anesthesia
Both local and general anesthesia carry risks, although fortunately, anesthetic techniques and patient monitoring have undergone great evolution in recent years. However, there is still the possibility of complications and injury.
It is not very common that there are fluid accumulations in areas where liposuction was performed but if that’s the case, additional treatments or surgery may be needed to drain the fluid build-up.
Feeling a mild/moderate degree of pain is normal after liposuction surgery. This pain can vary in intensity and duration and can persist for a time after liposuction. In the case of chronic pain, it can occur very rarely as a result of the nerves being trapped in the internal scar tissue.
Damage to deeper structures
There may be the possibility of injury to deeper structures between nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and lungs (pneumothorax) during any surgery. Although there is little chance of this complication occurring, it also depends on the type of surgery. Lesions in deeper structures can be temporary or permanent.
Each person’s healing times are different. In some cases, there may be a delay in wound healing. Some areas may not heal normally, taking longer to heal and even being prone to necrosis. This situation can require frequent bandages and even corrective surgery. People who smoke are at increased risk for necrosis and wound healing complications.
In some cases, patients may be allergic to the patches, stitches, and other substances used in the procedure. There is the potential for serious systemic reactions, including anaphylactic shock that can occur from medications used during surgery and prescription medications.
Additional treatment is required in the case of allergic reactions.
After the procedure is finished, there may be persistent swelling of the legs. The risk of persistent post-liposuction edema is not small even if the condition tends to normalize spontaneously.
Deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary and cardiac complications
Liposuction, like any other surgical procedure, presents a certain risk of pulmonary embolism, generally derived from initial deep vein thrombosis. To reduce this risk, patients are put on heparin for the necessary postoperative time. This complication is very rare when the patient begins to walk early and heparin prophylaxis is considered.
After surgery, necrosis of a part of the adipose tissue may occur due to decreased blood supply during or after surgery. This can produce some firmness and/or holes in the skin.
In some circumstances, and particularly when large volumes of fat are removed from large areas, surgical shock can occur. If the risk of surgical shock occurs after liposuction, hospitalization will be required.
If you are considering a liposuction procedure, you have come to the right place. Dr Moufarrege is a fellow student of the Royal College of Surgery (Canada) and an assistant professor of plastic surgery at the University of Montreal. He is also Professor in the French College of plastic Surgery, since he trained a large number of French plastic surgeons. His years of experience and quality of work have earned him an astonishing reputation. If you wish to schedule a consultation, feel free to contact us now!