Medically reviewed by Dr. John Rosdeutscher – Written by Sine Thieme
Recovering from liposuction is much easier than most people think. Many patients take a long time to make their decision to undergo cosmetic body countouring procedure. Often they are worried about their recovery. But in our years of performing thousands of liposuctions in the Nashville and Memphis areas, the most common sentiment we have heard is “You have changed my life – I wish I had done it sooner!” Most patients are surprised to realize how easy it was.
“It’s something I shouldn’t have been worried about at all. There was very minimal pain, and the downtime was almost none at all. I bounced right back.”Carolyn Rambo, NuBody Concepts liposuction patient.
Recovering From a Minimally-Invasive Procedure
Liposuction is a minimally-invasive cosmetic body lift procedure which removes unwanted fat deposits . This means that it is easier – and faster – to recover from than full-fledged plastic surgery. There are several reasons for this:
Liposuction is performed under local anesthesia, which is easier to recover from than general anesthesia. You are fully awake during your cosmetic surgery procedure. Any potential patient discomfort can be minimized with light IV Sedation, but not all patients require sedation during their procedure.
In addition, a liposuction procedure does not require the placement of sutures. There are no major incisions in the skin. The small nicks to insert the cannula under the skin heal easily and do not leave any noticeable scars. This means there is no wound care afterwards that might prohibit you from pursuing your daily activities.
Your Liposuction Recovery Step by Step
1. Have your post-op instructions in place
First of all, your plastic surgeon will have given you detailed directions before and after your procedure. Make sure that you receive written directions that you can reference when you leave. These should include an emergency contact phone number for after-hours should any concerns arise. They should also include directions regarding any antibiotics you may have been given for your surgery; be sure to finish these. Be sure to also ask when it’s safe to resume any prescription medications your doctor has advised you to stop prior to your procedure.
2. Directly after the procedure
From your pre-op instructions, you will know to arrange for a friend or family member to be available to drive you home. This is to ensure your safety after the procedure. Most plastic surgery centers – as we do – will have a waiting lounge to allow such persons to pass the time comfortably during your liposuction procedure. Uber drivers or other commercial services do not qualify as designated drivers after a liposuction procedure.
You will also be given a compression garment that you are advised to wear for up to 8 or even 12 weeks during your recovery process. It is your single most important piece of your post-op liposuction care. It helps reduce swelling and also molds the skin to your new contours. The more diligently you wear this garment, the better your results are going to be. Even though you probably feel great and can already see your results after your procedure, there is still more to come. Your skin is reattaching to the muscle since the fat between the two was removed in your procedure. Keeping that area compressed assures that your skin will be as firm and taut as it can be.
Different surgeons may give different instructions for how long you should wear your compression garments. At NuBody Concepts, we encourage patients to wear it for a minimum of 6 weeks (but longer doesn’t hurt!) and to only take it off for showers and washing.
3. First 24 Hours
Your surgeon will have placed temporary drains in the small incisions beneath the skin. This will allow for any excess fluids to drain for 24-36 hours. You will also receive extra dressings should you need to replace them. It is important to start wearing your compression garment right away.
For a few days, you may experience some pain and soreness in the treatment area. Your surgeon may have prescribed pain medication to manage your discomfort and to aid the healing process. Make sure you follow your dosage schedule closely and avoid alcohol for 3-4 days while on pain medication.
You should also make sure that you hydrate well and avoid any and all strenuous activity in the first 1-2 days. This is a time to spoil yourself! It’s the perfect time to binge on Netflix and catch up on old movies or TV Shows. Don’t overdo it on the first day, or it could lead to an unwanted increase in swelling.
You will also be given post-op instructions regarding showering and icing. It is important to follow all instructions closely and to come to your follow-up appointment.
4. First 2 Weeks
Most liposuction treatment patients return to their day-to-day activities or light exercise within 1-2 days of their procedure. There may be some bruising, redness, and swelling for up to a week, but in general this doesn’t prevent you from moving around as normal. In fact, your doctor wants you to move around. Remaining in bed increases the risk of blood clots in the legs and lungs, so a modest amount of regular movement from the time you return home is important.
When can you go back to work? You might want to take an extra day or two to fully recover, but if you don’t feel any discomfort, there is no reason you can’t return to work the very next day.
Dr. Rosdeutscher and Dr. Peters, our board certified plastic surgeons advise our patients to refrain from heaving lifting, pushing, pulling, and to avoid strenuous exercise for the first two weeks after a liposuction procedure. Typically, you can begin light exercise as early as one week post-op. Listen to your body; if something is uncomfortable, give it another day before you try it again. Do not try to push through if your body is telling you to stop. Patience is very important while your body heals after liposuction, and exercising rigorously before you’re ready can affect your results.
5. After 6 Weeks
Even though you will see and feel body lift results immediately after your liposuction (you could literally take a jar full of fat home with you, if you wanted to), some post-operative swelling may temporarily reverse or obscure those results. At the 6 week mark you can expect to see 80%-90% of the results you will achieve, but individual cases vary. To see your final results, you should give it 6 months.
Each liposuction surgeon may have a different schedule for follow-up visits beyond 6 weeks. Just make sure you go to your follow-up appointments as scheduled. Most patients enjoy going for their after pictures to see the before-and-after comparison!
It’s important to remember that liposuction is not a weight loss program, but a body contour treatment. So we encourage you to not spend the weeks and months after liposuction plastic surgery stepping on the scale obsessively. Fat is lighter than water, meaning that its removal will not subtract that much body weight. It’s much more meaningful to look at the loss of volume you experience. On average, patients go down about two pant sizes after liposuction to their abdomen.
Maintaining Results After Liposuction
What’s so great about liposuction surgeries is that the fat that was removed is permanently gone. However, that doesn’t mean you can just return to the same habits which led you to have liposuction in the first place. New fat cells can grow and contribute to an expanding waistline if you’re not careful.
So how do you best maintain liposuction results? It’s not that hard. Maintaining weight is much easier than losing it, if you exercise some discipline. Here are our 7 tips to keep the fat off after liposuction:
1. Start practicing healthy habits before the procedure.
It may sound like a great idea to start a new routine after you’ve gotten the body you want, but that’s actually the worst time to start. Instead of waiting until after a drastic change, it’s best to get into a routine that you can really stick to—before and after your procedure (keeping in mind that you’ll have to give exercise a 1-2 week break immediately post-op).
2. Exercise regularly every day.
Whether it’s a daily walk, jogging, yoga, a gym membership, joining a pickle ball league, or lifting weights, you should aim to exercise 20-30 minutes a day to keep your beautiful body looking its best. You don’t have to overdo it – you simply should regularly move and elevate your heart rate. This will not only help you maintain your current weight but can also decrease certain health risks.
3. Plan and maintain a healthy diet.
Creating discipline around your diet will go a long way towards maintaining your liposuction results. Contrary to common conception, it is actually more effective to limit your sugar intake than your fat consumption. Create some healthy habits that put vegetables and high fiber foods at the center of your diet, and hold the sweets at bay. This should allow you to enjoy your new waistline for years to come.
4. Make an effort to drink plenty of water each day.
Overeating is one of the biggest enemies of diets and weight loss or maintenance. To avoid overeating and gaining back the fat lost after liposuction, be sure to drink plenty of water each day. By filling up on water instead of sugary drinks or excess food, you’ll have a much easier time sticking to your health and wellness goals. Drinking water provides many other benefits, like increasing your energy and boosting your immune system. To top it off, hydrating well is great for your skin!
5. Keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum.
Speaking of sugary drinks: Alcohol is laden with unnecessary calories, so we’d recommend keeping your consumption to a minimum after getting liposuction. If you are going to drink, try to avoid drinks mixed with soda or juice, and try to avoid consuming more than two drinks in one sitting.
6. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night.
Whether you want to lose weight, maintain your current figure, or just live healthier, getting enough sleep every night is so important to your health and wellness goals. When you sleep well, your body has enough time to recover from the day’s activities and prepare you for the next day. Sleeping well also helps control your appetite, leaving you less likely to overeat or crave junk food during the day.
7. Maintain a positive attitude about your body and wellness goals.
While all of these are important factors in maintaining the body you want and keep new fat off after liposuction, having a positive attitude may be the best thing you can do for yourself. Try to be happy and confident in who you are and have positive, realistic expectations for yourself and your body.
Everyone who has tried to diet and exercise knows how hard it is to stay the course. That’s where liposuction comes in. Seeing our slimmer body almost overnight is a great motivation to stick to the diet and exercise regime you had implemented before your liposuction.
We hope that we’ve given you a better understanding about liposuction recovery. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions.