Liposuction Recovery

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 a cosmetic 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 surgery procedure. 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 procedure. Any potential patient discomfort can be minimized with light IV Sedation, but not all patients require sedation during their procedure.

In addition, liposuction 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. 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.

You will also be given a compression garment that you are advised to wear for up to 8 weeks after your procedure. It helps control the 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.

2. 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.

For a few days, you may experience some pain and soreness in the treatment area. Your surgeon may have subscribed medication to manage your discomfort and to aid the healing process. Make sure you follow your dosage schedule closely. 

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. You should also make sure that you hydrate well in the first 1-2 days.

3. First 2 Weeks

Most liposuction patients return to their day-to-day activities 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 advise our patients to refrain from heaving lifting, pushing, pulling, and to avoid strenuous exercise for the first two weeks after liposuction. Typically, you can start exercising gently as early as one week post-op.

You can start gentle exercise after one week of liposuction recovery, and strenuous exercise after two weeks.

4. After 6 Weeks

Even though you will see and feel 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. So we encourage you to not spend the weeks and months after liposuction 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 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?

First off, maintaining weight is much easier than losing it. It just requires a little bit of discipline.

First, we recommend that you engage in a regular exercise regimen. You don’t have to go crazy – you simply should regularly move and elevate your heart rate. Find a routine that works for you – a daily walk, a gym membership, a pickle-ball league.

And second, exercise some discipline with your diet. 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.

Good candidate for liposuction with good skin elasticity
NuBody Concepts liposuction patient pictured 12 weeks post-op. View liposuction gallery.

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.

If you are ready to get started, simply self-schedule a consultation with our board-certified plastic surgeon in Nashville or Memphis.

Medically reviewed by Dr. John Rosdeutscher – Written by Sine Thieme