Once you’ve had your liposuction performed it’s time to start the liposuction recovery phase. This recovery process is much like the recovery from other plastic surgery procedures, so the more you know ahead of time, the better prepared you’ll be for what lies ahead. Most liposuction surgeons will provide detailed recovery instructions in order to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible and end up with the best results possible.
Because every liposuction patient is unique, all liposuction procedures at least somewhat individualized. The recovery from liposuction follows suite. Your surgeon will give you personalized instructions, though most patients will follow the same basic path. It’s incredibly important that you follow your recovery instructions quite closely, as any deviation from those instructions could increase your risk of complication or of unsatisfactory results.
You’ll also want to prepare adequately for your liposuction recovery. This could involve ensuring there are plenty of people to help and that you have plenty of meals lines up! So what happens during a liposuction recovery? Let’s take a look at some of the broad strokes of what you can expect during your liposuction recovery.
The First Stage of Liposuction Recovery
We’ll talk about the first “stage” of liposuction recovery as, roughly, the first month or so. Most liposuction procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, so you’ll be doing the lion’s share of recovery at your home (or some other, non-hospital setting). For most patients, that means they’ll be returning to their own bed the same day of their procedure.
From there, most patients’ recovery processes will look like this:
- Day 1-2: During the first couple of days, you will likely notice a significant amount of swelling and bruising around the incision area. Your surgeon may leave drains in place in order to help with swelling. There will also be bandages in place around the incision sites. Most patients will be on a combination of medications to diminish discomfort and antibiotics to prevent infections. Patients are encouraged to begin walking as soon as possible after surgery (though, in limited durations).
- Week 1: Most patients will notice a reduction in some discomfort during their first week of recovery. Bruising may begin to fade. Patients may also be directed to wear a compression garment around the area that was treated. Again, this is to help reduce swelling of the area. Some patients are able to return to work after the first 3-7 days after surgery, depending on the area treated and the comfort of the patient.
- Week 2: During the second week of recovery, most patients begin to notice a decline in both bruising and swelling. Light activities can sometimes be resumed at this point, as well. Drains that had been left in at the time of surgery are often removed at this point, in addition to any stitches or sutures that were not absorbed by your body.
- Month 1: There will still be some swelling into the first month after surgery, so you probably won’t be seeing your total and final results at this point. However, you should be feeling much more like yourself, with energy levels returning to normal and any bruises having faded completely. You will still need to be careful not to exert yourself too much, especially around your incision site.
- Month 2: After two months of recovery, most patients are cleared for heavier lifting. However, it’s important to note that this must be cleared by your plastic surgeon. That’s one of the many reasons why follow up appointments are so crucial.
- Month 6: By the sixth month of your recovery you should be seeing your peak results from your liposuction procedure. Swelling and bruising should be gone (in most cases), and even any discoloration of the scar tissue should begin to fade. In other words, by the sixth month, you should be good to go!
Individual results will, of course, vary. Any complications during your recovery will also change the “schedule” significantly.
How Can I Maintain My Results?
Once the fat from a liposuction procedure is removed, it’s gone for good—and it likely won’t be coming back. In order to maintain your results, your surgeon will likely advise you to maintain a steady weight. Losing too much weight or gaining too much weight (even if you later lose it) will likely impact the longevity of your results.
That’s why many surgeons wait until patients have reached their ideal weight—or have at least reached a stable weight—before planning the surgery. The reason for this is pretty simple: generating a significant amount of excess skin can really dampen your results. Many patients can feel just as self-conscious about their excess skin as they do about excess fat.
So when fat redevelops, or even when patients lose a significant amount of weight, that excess skin can become a problem. Again, this is why many patients are asked to try to maintain their weight after surgery.
If you want to know more about what liposuction recovery might be like for your stated goals, the best way to find out is to talk to a highly qualified liposuction surgeon. Liposuction recovery is, after all, going to be individualized to you—at least to some degree.
Be sure to ask about liposuction recovery during your consultation with your surgeon.