The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that liposuction ranks in the top five most desired cosmetic procedures since the pandemic. Many individuals seek liposuction and believe they will get instant results but overlook some important details regarding recovery.
A lot of patients are enamored by liposuction before and after pictures and do not understand the process that took place between the two photos. Recovering from liposuction can be a challenge and the process will go much smoother if you are prepared for what is next.
This article should give you an overview of liposuction recovery results week by week and what you may experience after a liposuction procedure. A consultation with a board-certified cosmetic surgeon is the best way to ensure you understand and are prepared for what to expect during your liposuction recovery time.
Liposuction Results Week by Week
Day Of Liposuction Procedure
Liposuction is a surgical procedure and although techniques have improved, and many can be done as outpatient procedures, extracting fat from underneath the skin kicks the body’s natural healing process into overdrive.
Swelling and bruising are byproducts of this healing process and patients are often shocked to see that their treatment areas look worse than before they had liposuction. This is completely normal, it is part of the recovery process, and no cause for concern. It can take three to six months for the results of liposuction to be fully evident. Depending on the degree and area(s) of the procedure, the patient’s recovery time will vary.
Immediately After Liposuction
Right after your procedure, you will be observed for about an hour and then discharged to go home.
You will be released wearing special compression garments covering the areas that were treated. The proper wearing of these garments will be instrumental to your recovery and you must strictly follow the surgeon’s instructions to get the best results. You will need someone to drive you home.
The numbing solution will still be working in the treatment areas but you may feel mild pain or discomfort. Prescription pain medication or over-the-counter medication can help.
You will begin to see swelling and bruising and your movements may be stiff and limited.
Day 1 After Liposuction Surgery
During the initial part of your recovery, you will probably need someone to help you at home especially if you have small children or dogs to walk. Your activity will be limited and you will not be able to lift anything heavy.
Follow all the aftercare instructions provided to you by the surgeon. If you have wound care instructions or drains to empty, make sure you follow the surgeon’s directions. The surgeon will also tell you when to begin taking short walks to reduce the risk of blood clots.
As the anesthetic in the treatment areas wears off, you may begin to experience more pain. You can take your prescribed pain medication and use cold compresses to help with swelling.
On this first day after your liposuction procedure, you should rest and take it easy. The areas of treatment will be sore and you may notice an increase in swelling.
Week 1 After Liposuction
Usually, the first week of recovery after liposuction is the toughest. You will be sore and bruised and may need to continue using medication to help ease the pain and discomfort.
To mitigate risks of complications, be diligent about wearing your compression garments, attending to your incision sites, and do not shower or take a bath until your surgeon gives you the ok.
During this week you may have a follow-up appointment with your cosmetic surgeon to check your progress and remove the drains, etc.
1 week after your lipo your results may not be what you were expecting. Most patients experience gradual swelling for the first several days which masks the results of the procedure. Swelling is a natural part of the body’s healing process and after a liposuction procedure, the swelling can be significant.
Week 2 After Liposuction
You should notice a significant reduction in soreness and pain during week 2 and many patients can return to work. If your job is labor intensive you may need additional time off.
You can resume some of your daily activities provided there is no heavy lifting or pushing/pulling etc. You can lengthen your short strolls but you are not ready for intense exercise yet.
You will continue to wear your compression garments except for when you are in the shower. Depending on how fast you heal, your wounds may still require cleaning and dressing.
3-5 Weeks After Liposuction
By this point, most patients have no pain or soreness in the areas treated. You will probably still have bruising and you may also experience significant swelling into the third week but it should begin to subside in the next few weeks.
Between four and five weeks after liposuction, you should be able to resume moderate physical activity including household chores, light jogging, biking, or some forms of exercise (no heavy weight lifting).
6 Weeks After Liposuction
By the time you reach the six-week point, many patients can see some results of their procedure and much of their swelling has subsided.
There is no need to worry if you still have substantial swelling as this is normal and can take months to completely resolve. Most patients will see their final results in six months.
Most patients can discontinue wearing compression garments after six weeks but the surgeon will let you know when you can stop wearing yours. You can also speak to the surgeon about returning to more vigorous activities, including weightlifting.
You will gradually begin to see improvements and your liposuction results week by week. Final results can take six months or longer for some patients.
The Dos And Don’ts Of Lipo Recovery
5 Tips To Help Speed Up Your Liposuction Recovery
- Eat a Healing Healthy Diet
- The surgery takes a lot out of you and eating lean protein, veggies, and fruits will help fuel the body’s healing process. Also, avoiding certain foods and additives such as sodium will help mitigate swelling. Preparing meals in advance and freezing them will be helpful during the first week of your recovery.
- Stay Hydrated
- Drinking plenty of water is always important but after liposuction it is critical. Drinking at least 6 to 8 large glasses of water a day will help flush out toxins and fast-track your recovery.
- Getting adequate amounts of sleep and resting as much as possible will help your body have the energy it needs to dedicate to the healing process. Taking short daily walks to mitigate the risk of blood clots is necessary but other than that, you should rest as much as possible.
- Get Help While You Recover
- You will need to take it easy the first several weeks and this may be hard if you are the kind of person who does not like to ask for help. You need to ask for help! Your recovery, safety, and final results depend on it.
- You will be tired and sore, and you will not be able to drive or keep up your normal routine. Plan ahead if you need someone to do errands, drive carpool, etc. Be prepared to be out of commission for at least two weeks.
- Dress Comfortably
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing that will put pressure on the treatment areas or abrasively rub them. You will be more comfortable in loose-fitting soft garments and they will allow adequate oxygen circulation and will not hinder your healing process.
5 Things Not To Do After Liposuction
- Avoid Water Immersion
- To keep your treatment areas bacteria-free and avoid infection it is important to keep them clean and dry at all times (except for showering). You do not want to soak in any body of water (bath, lake, pond, pool, etc) for at least 4 weeks after your procedure.
- Refrain From Exercise
- If you have a daily exercise regime, speak to your surgeon about when you can resume your workouts. Usually, there is a “no exercise” directive for at least the first two weeks after which there are specific guidelines on what is permitted and what you should avoid. Strenuous activity like weight lifting is normally not recommended until six weeks after liposuction. After a few days, the surgeon will normally have you do some brief low-impact walking every day.
- Avoid Alcohol
- Drinking alcohol will impede the healing process and it is also not something you want to mix with your pain medications. Alcohol acts as a blood thinner and can cause elevated levels of bruising and dehydration.
- Do Not Take Blood Thinning Medication
- Blood thinners can cause greater levels of bleeding and bruising and you will be instructed to refrain from taking prescription or over-the-counter medications that thin the blood for at least a week before your procedure and at least your first week of recovery.
- Do Not Gain Weight
- Liposuction is not meant to be used as a weight loss method and most surgeons will advise patients that they should be at or near their target weight before having the procedure done. If you gain weight after liposuction it will not return to the liposuctioned areas and may show up in unexpected locations. Physical activity and eating a low-calorie healthy diet after having liposuction will help maintain your results.
- Do Not Panic
- Patients often become discouraged when they do not see immediate results from their liposuction procedure. Things normally look worse before they get better after undergoing liposuction.
- Liposuction is an invasive procedure and swelling is the body’s natural response. It may appear that no changes have taken place or the areas can look worse for several months after undergoing liposuction. It is very important to wear your compression garment to ensure proper healing.
Liposuctioned areas can take up to six months to completely heal. Larger individuals tend to see changes earlier than those who only had a moderate amount of fat to eliminate.
Liposuction is a safe and effective treatment for removing excess stubborn fat deposits from the body. The recovery process will vary from patient to patient but knowing what to expect and preparing in advance can speed up your liposuction recovery time and make the process a much smoother experience.
If you are interested in learning more about liposuction, set up a consultation today at Surgicare Arts & Aesthetics. Dr. Angelina Postoev, MD, FACS, a triple-board certified cosmetic surgeon, and Christopher Ibikunle, MD, FACS, offer liposuction to patients in Buckhead, Lawrenceville, Suwanee, Johns Creek, and the surrounding areas of Atlanta, Georgia.