Medically reviewed by Dr. John Rosdeutscher – Written by Sine Thieme
Skin tightening using Radio Frequency Assisted Lipolysis (RFAL) is a minimally-invasive procedure, meaning it has a shorter recovery than a fully surgical procedure. It is a great option for patients who shy away from the longer recovery needed for a tummy tuck, for instance.
Below we will discuss all you need to know about recovering from Renuvion and BodyTite, the two skin tightening procedures offered at NuBody Concepts Cosmetic Surgery in Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee.
How Long Does it Take to Recover from Skin Tightening?
When we talk about recovery time after cosmetic surgery, we typically mean the time it takes to return to regular daily activities, including work. This does not mean you’ll be fully restored to normal or that even your results are final. It just means that you are no longer encumbered by your recent surgery or procedure in any meaningful way.
You can expect your recovery after skin tightening using Radio Frequency Assisted Lipolysis to last anywhere from 1-5 days.
Some patients return to work the next day, and some patients prefer a few extra days until they’re fully comfortable. Face patients typically are at the longer end of the spectrum because the post-op bruising or swelling isn’t easily hidden like it is for other areas of the body.
Recovering From a Minimally-Invasive Procedure
Skin tightening with the RFAL technology is a minimally-invasive cosmetic body contouring procedure that contracts the tissues underneath the skin. It is easier – and faster – to recover from than a fully surgical procedure, for the following reasons:
RFAL is performed under local anesthesia – much easier to recover from than general anesthesia. Unlike during general anesthesia, you are fully awake during this treatment. Any potential discomfort can also be treated with additional IV Sedation, particularly if you have more or larger areas you want treated. However, many patients undergo skin tightening without sedation.
Another reason why skin tightening has a relatively short recovery compared to other cosmetic surgery is that it does not require any stitches or sutures. It is done without major incisions in the skin. The cannula is inserted under the skin through very small nicks that heal easily and do not leave any noticeable scars. Without any post-op wound care that might restrict your daily activities, you are free to go back to your regular lifestyle within days, not weeks.
Is Skin Tightening Recovery Painful?
Like with any minimally-invasive procedure, you should expect only mild discomfort during the first day or two after the procedure. Some bruising and swelling is perfectly normal during the first week and may make you feel uncomfortable. There can also be a small amount of drainage from the incision sites. This typically resolves after 2-3 days. Not being able to shower right after the surgery and abstaining from baths for a week may pose an additional inconvenience, but certainly doesn’t cause any pain.
Overall, you should not experience the more severe pain or restrictions on movement that you can expect after a surgical procedure with sutures, like a tummy tuck or thigh lift.
Your Skin Tightening Recovery Step by Step
1. Directly after the procedure
Your plastic surgeon will have given you a list of skin tightening pre-op instructions to carefully read prior to your appointment. You will typically be asked to arrange for a friend or family member to drive you home in order to ensure your safety while under the influence of sedation.
If you’ve had liposuction done alongside your skin tightening – which is very common – you will likely receive a compression garment to immediately start wearing for up to 8 weeks post-op. This is very important to reduce the swelling and shape the skin to its new contours. It is important to understand that how diligently you wear this garment will affect your outcome. At NuBody Concepts, we instruct patients to wear their compression garment for 6 weeks 24 hours a day, other than to shower.
2. First 24 Hours
You will 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.
The instructions typically tell you to avoid showers for the first 24 hours. After that, showers are permitted, but not baths. Likewise, saunas or excessive heat of any kind should be avoided. And you need to avoid any kind of strenuous activity and heavy lifting.
You are also advised to over-hydrate for the first 2 days. Drinking a lot of water helps with healing and to reduce swelling.
If you’ve had skin tightening to your face or neck, such as FaceTite, you should sleep with your head elevated to help reduce swelling. Do not lay flat or on your side.
3. First 2 Weeks
Most skin tightening patients are able to return to their day-to-day activities or light exercise within 1-2 days of their procedure. You may experience some bruising, redness, and/or swelling for the first week, but typically this doesn’t prevent you from moving around as you normally do. In fact, you should move around to avoid any kind of blood clots in your legs or lungs, so make sure you engage in moderate movement as soon as you return home.
There is not really any limit on when you can return to work. Many patients feel well enough to return to work within 1-2 days. If you’ve had your face treated, you may want to give yourself more time before showing your face in public, as there may be swelling for the first week. Face patients only: You can typically stop wearing your compression garment during the day after 3 days and continue to wear it only at night.
The restriction on heavy lifting and strenuous workouts last for 2 weeks. If you’ve had skin tightening done to your arms, refrain from heavy lifting for a full 4 weeks!
4. After 6 Weeks
Your recovery is now fully complete in terms of restrictions on your activity. You are typically done wearing your compression garment after this period and should have been able to exercise at all levels for several weeks.
However, this doesn’t mean that your body is done changing. The beauty of the RFAL skin tightening procedure is that it continues to deliver results long after you’ve had it done. Even though results can be seen immediately afterwards (especially once bruising and/or swelling has gone down after the first week or so), they continue to improve. You will see a nice difference at your 6-week follow-up after BodyTite, but the tissues will continue to coagulate and improve your results for a period of 6-12 months. With Renuvion, you can expect significant results at the 2-3 week post-op mark, with ultimate results achieved at 6-9 months.
Each plastic surgeon will have a slightly different post-op checkup schedule. Make sure you don’t miss any of your follow-up appointments so that your results can be monitored.
Once the first 6 weeks are over, it is a great time to go clothes shopping! Remember that fat removal and skin tightening is not a weight loss program, so you likely won’t see a big difference in terms of stepping on your bathroom scale. However, you should see a difference in your waistline (if your treatment area was your abdomen). You may also want to show off your newly taut skin in a 2-piece bathing suit. This is what you’ve been waiting for, and now is the time to reap the rewards.
Maintaining Your Results
If you’ve had fat removed with your skin tightening, the good news is that this fat is now permanently gone. However, new fat cells can grow, depending on your lifestyle. It is important that you maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and good eating habits so as to keep up your results. If you don’t already have one, establish a workout routine that fits into your schedule – even daily walks have shown huge benefits over doing nothing. It’s not necessary to put yourself on a diet, but healthy eating habits including vegetables and foods rich in fiber while limiting your sugar intake will go a long way.
If you stick to these basic rules, you should be able to enjoy your new, slimmer look for many years!
We hope that we’ve given you a better understanding about skin tightening recovery. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions.