Liposuction Care After Surgery

A doctor performing liposuction surgery

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Even though liposuction does not involve large incisions, it is important to know how to care for your body after liposuction. Also known as suction-assisted lipectomy, the procedure removes small to moderate localized deposits of fat. This is done by inserting a cannula through incisions made in areas of the body, moving it to loosen excess fat, and suctioning the fat out using a vacuum or a cannula-attached syringe.

Liposuction is not a substitute for losing weight and exercising. It is not effective in eliminating cellulite or tightening loose and sagging skin. The areas of the body that have been treated will appear slimmer and contoured. 

It is important to care for those areas where incisions are because infection and scarring can hamper results. Here's your guide to post-liposuction care.

Your Post-Liposuction Care Kit

Before your surgery, make sure you have these items easily available:

  • Comfortable, loose clothing
  • Dark towels to sit on to absorb any leaking fluids
  • Pillows to rest on
  • Bottled water
  • Soda crackers for nausea
  • Pain medication

During the First 72 Hours

  • It is normal for bloody fluid to drain on clothes and sheets for the first 24 to 72 hours after surgery. The fluid is put into the area before liposuction to make fat removal safer for you.
  • A compression garment should be worn at all times except during showering. Compression garments reduce swelling and speed up your recovery. Your plastic surgeon will let you know when you can stop wearing the garment.
  • Move every two hours to prevent the formation of blood clots. This will also help to keep fluids moving in the body and reduce swelling.
  • Some plastic surgeons will allow you to shower 24 hours after surgery but check with yours since he may want you to keep your initial compression garments on for five days, and then shower. When you shower, you can run soap and water over the areas without scrubbing. The areas should be gently dried with a clean towel. Avoid still (non-running) water for two weeks after surgery. This includes baths, swimming pools, hot tubs, lakes, oceans, etc.

Caring for Your Incisions

Depending on your surgeon’s preference, you can remove the outer dressings from the liposuction site 24 to 72 hours after surgery. Your incisions may be left open or they may be closed with a stitch. If you have tapes or steri-strips over the incisions, leave them in place. The steri-strips should be left alone and allowed to fall off on their own, or they will be removed by your surgeon in the office.

Make sure to wear loose clothing. Tight clothing may rub against your incisions, irritating them, and hinder healing. 

What's Normal

Mild bruising is normal after surgery, but will gradually subside over 10 to 21 days. So is swelling. You should immediately notice an improvement in your body contour, but you will have swelling, which will gradually subside. It can take three to four months to see the final result.

What's Not Normal

Monitor your incisions for signs of infection: spreading redness, increased swelling, excessive drainage or pus, foul odor, increased pain, and warmth. A temperature over 101 degrees Fahrenheit may also be an indicator of infection. Call your doctor if you experience any of these things.

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Article Sources

  • American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Liposuction Recovery
  • Gingrass MK. Liposuction. In Thorne CHM, Beasely RW, Aston SJ, Bartlett SP, Gurtner GC, Spear S, eds. Grabb and Smith’s Plastic Surgery, 6th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 2007.
  • Hunstad JP. Liposuction of the Hips and Thighs. In Evans GRD, ed. Operative Plastic Surgery. New York: McGraw Hill, 2000.