Post-Liposuction Pain Management

In This Article

If you're facing liposuction, it's normal to worry about how much pain you'll be in afterward. Setting realistic expectations, learning about pain medications, and preparing for self-care after your procedure can help take the fear out of recovery. 

Liposuction is a minimally invasive cosmetic surgical procedure to remove small-to-moderate localized deposits of fat. It's also called suction lipectomy, lipoplasty, liposculpture, or simply lipo.

Sleeping patient laying in hospital bed
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Pain After Liposuction

After liposuction, you will be given a series of post-operative instructions. The type of anesthesia and the amount used determine the level of pain experienced during the first few days after liposuction.

Liposuction performed with intravenous (IV) sedation results in less post-operative pain and rarely requires medication other than Tylenol (acetaminophen).

Liposuction performed under general anesthesia usually results in more intense pain that requires prescription pain medication. 

What to Expect

Some things you should expect about post-liposuction pain and pain management are:

  • Pain is the most intense two to four days after the procedure.
  • Tenderness and soreness are typical but will eventually fade.
  • You'll be given a compression garment to reduce swelling, provide support, and relieve pain in the liposuction area.
  • The compression dressings shouldn't be tight enough to reduce blood flow.
  • You'll have some loss of sensation in the area, so don't use heat or ice on the area as it could lead to burns or frostbite.

Drugs and Supplements

Be sure you talk to your doctor about medications—both prescription and over-the-counter—and any supplements you may take to see if there are any special instructions you should follow.

  • Discussing pain medication with your doctor can ensure you get appropriate medication and know how to use it.
  • You may need to avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, Motrin/Advil (ibuprofen), and Aleve (naproxen) before liposuction because these drugs can interfere with blood clotting.
  • You should also avoid NSAIDs for the first two weeks after liposuction.
  • Over-the-counter supplements, especially vitamin E, should also be avoided as they might slow blood clotting.
  • Don't try any new medications or supplements while you're healing.

Recovery After Liposuction

Most of the swelling and pain after liposuction is the result of the residual anesthetic used during the procedure that remains under the skin. Time and the use of the compression garment allow drainage of the anesthetic.

After liposuction, you are encouraged to engage in light physical activity such as walking, which helps prevent blood clots from forming in your legs. Strenuous activity should be avoided for a month.

If you had IV sedation you'll return to a normal work schedule quicker than if you had general anesthesia.

Liposuction with general anesthesia typically has a higher incidence of nausea, vomiting, and chills and usually requires prescription medication for pain management.

You will likely have some pain for weeks after the surgery. However, if you experience extreme pain or your pain lasts longer than you think it should, contact your doctor.

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