Duration of Liposuction Recovery


As with any surgical procedure, people usually want to know what to expect from the recovery period. How soon can I return to work? To school? What will I be able to do and when? When speaking of cosmetic surgeries specifically, most people want to know: how soon will I be able to see the aesthetic benefits of my surgery? They also want to know what to expect, and what activities may be restricted during this time. For a liposuction procedure as with any surgical procedure, the recovery time can vary from person to person and is dependent in large part on the type of procedure.

After recovering from anesthesia, patients are free to get up and move around. If only local anesthesia was used for liposuction, people can be released in as little as thirty minutes. Of course, procedures done under general anesthesia require a bit longer time in the anesthesia recovery area. Patients that have just been under general anesthesia are not permitted to drive and will not be discharged until a licensed driver is present to provide transportation. Having a loved one or trusted companion with you after surgery is always a good idea.

Bruising is quite common and can be expected after the liposuction procedure. Do not be alarmed as this is normal. While some people may not exhibit bruising at all, it is quite rare.  Since fat is supplied by tiny blood vessels, as the fat is liquefied during liposuction blood vessels are disrupted and blood collects under the skin. Bruises are essentially blood under the skin that has left the blood vessel. Bruises usually start to fade or change color soon after the procedure but may take up to two to three weeks to disappear completely.

Often, the incisions are not completely stitched up. This allows for the excess fluid to drain out of the body and prevent infectious agents like bacteria from growing under the skin. Permitting fluid to drain rather than relying on the body to absorb helps to swell to go down. This also allows for the rapid healing of the wound area. Draining usually stops within three days of the procedure. Remember to frequently change any dressings that remain over the surgical wound. The swelling from liposuction may last for some time but decreases gradually over the first month.

While the patient will be able to resume daily routine activities, except for strenuous exercise or work, the actual results from liposuction may not be evident for even after several months. It will take some time for the skin to become tighter and the swelling to leave the area completely. As was mentioned, recovery times vary. You must be able to devote yourself to the procedure but also to the recovery. Discuss these issues with your surgeon before undergoing the liposuction procedure. You can get a sense of the recovery time by asking the doctor or others that have had the surgery the time that you should expect to fully recover and see results. This way you will be able to plan your life accordingly and are prepared for different phases of the process as they occur.

What happens during Liposuction Recovery?

Many people undergo a liposuction procedure without realizing the consequences or understanding the possible complications of the procedure. While liposuction is a relatively safe procedure, it is not without some risks. By the same token, just because it is an outpatient procedure, does not mean that there is not a bit of recovery that needs to take place before the patient is fully healed. With this level of body alteration, the body must be allowed to fully recover. Recovery is a gradual process and while it can be made easier, it cannot be avoided altogether.

Immediately after the liposuction procedure, there is an initial recovery from anesthesia. The recovery period depends on the type and depth of anesthesia used. For minor procedures requiring only local anesthesia (uncommon) people can leave as early as 30 minutes after the procedure. Yet for patients undergoing general anesthesia, patients must stay a little longer until they have been stabilized. Remember that you will not be able to drive yourself the day of the procedure, so arrange transportation home from the clinic.

During the first one to two weeks after a liposuction procedure, people are advised to wear a compression garment, as suggested by the surgeon. Within days of the procedure, the bruising around the surgical wound should decrease. The wound may be allowed to drain and will need to be attended to according to the directions of your surgeon. It is also important to change the bandages at the surgical site. Most people are able to go back to work and perform non-strenuous activities within three days of the procedure if necessary. Also, you will likely need to attend at least one follow-up appointment with your surgeon so that he or she can evaluate the area and remove any sutures or staples that were left in place to close the liposuction portal. By four weeks after the surgery, any swelling, bruising, pain, and redness should be gone. By this time patients should be able to resume all of their normal days to day activities.

The final outcome of liposuction might not be visible or fully appreciated for many months after the treatment. The skin surrounding the treatment area may appear loose for some time but should tighten up. Compression garments should speed the process a bit. Each person’s experience with liposuction recovery is unique, differs from one person to another, and will vary depending on the procedure and the body’s response. Knowing a general knowledge of the liposuction recovery period can be helpful to keep expectations realistic and improve short and long term outcomes.


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