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How long does it take to recover from liposuction? MARK A. SCHUSTERMAN, MD, FACS

Fellow of the American College of Surgeons American Society of Plastic Surgeons American Board of Plastic Surgery American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery American Board of Cosmetic Surgery Association of American Physicians and Surgeons Texas Surgical Society Texas Society of Plastic Surgeons

The recovery process

The recovery process for liposuction is, as the recovery for most medical procedures, dependent on a lot of variables like the medical condition and age of the patient, how much fat was removed from the patient, and the size of the area that was affected. Luckily, however, there are a few universal constants that you can rely on.

In the Recovery Room

The post-anesthesia care unit, more colloquially known as the recovery room is the immediate secondary location for the surgery. It’s where patients will wake up post-surgery, and receive the necessary immediate medical care that comes from losing a chunk of your body mass- observation.

If the patient shows signs of low blood pressure or nausea or any other number of complications that could arise. After a while, about half an hour, if none of these signs have shown themselves, the patient is free to go home.

The first three days

The first three days after the procedure must be spent in the low activity, so there is no working or high-stress environments, and physical activity is heavily discouraged. However, if the amount of fat removed was minimal, or the area of operation was exceedingly small, three days can sometimes be enough for the body to fully repair the area. No matter what, however, it is necessary that you go in for a post-op checkup three days after the operation.

Weeks 1-2

In the next two weeks, you can resume a more normal schedule. If the amount of fat removed wasn’t too much or the area of operation wasn’t too big, one might even be able to return to work, as long as their occupation isn’t too strenuous. At the end of the first week, the patient should receive another post-op checkup.

Weeks 3-5

In weeks 3-5, the patient should be able to return to work even if their occupation is fairly physically strenuous, and they should receive their last post-op checkup at the end of week 4, depending, of course, on any further medical complications.

Week 6 and beyond

Once you’re past week 6, even the most aggressive of liposuction procedures should have fully healed, assuming the patient was in a fine health condition before and after the operation. You’re free to pursue any activities you did before the operation.

Back To Activities

Recovering from Liposuction is an uncomfortable and difficult process, and you may find it hard to return to regular activities that you enjoyed before the procedure. In time, a few weeks at most, you should be able to return to your regular schedule. However, you should consult your doctor before you take on anything physically strenuous within that recovery time.

Work

Wanting to return to your occupation as soon as possible is understandable- you need to be able to make your livelihood after all- but for people who have physically strenuous jobs like construction, athletics, landscaping, or home installation should take up to 3 or 4 weeks off of their job in order to allow their body to fully recover from the procedure- assuming their procedure wasn’t extremely small.

Sex

For a lot of people, getting a liposuction procedure is a matter of the sexual appeal, so it’s slightly ironic that it can and does prevent you from having sex immediately after the procedure. If you get liposuction somewhere that isn’t directly involved in normal sexual intercourse- the chin, the shoulders, or the lower leg- you can get back in the sack in only a couple of days.

If, however, it’s in a spot which is more vigorously stimulated by sex like the thighs, butt, or even stomach, the patient should wait somewhere between a week and 12 days before joining their partner in bed.

Exercise

Exercise should be treated with the same caution as sex. If you’re exercising a part of the body that wasn’t operated on, you only need to wait 2 or 3 days. But if you got fat removed from your arms, and want to get in a good bicep workout, that’s going to have to wait up to 2 weeks.

Walking

Walking is a safe bet immediately after leaving the recovery room, as long as you don’t walk long distances- more than 2 or 3 miles a day.

Normal Activities

All other normal activities which you enjoyed- whatever those maybe- should be taken on a case by case basis, but as long as they don’t require physicality, they should be fine. Take the weeks you have off of work to binge that new TV Show that you’ve seen people recommend on Instagram but haven’t actually sat down to watch yet.

How can I help promote healing and good results?

Your body will naturally recover on its own, but there are ways you can slightly speed up the process, try and help your body along. The multitudinous remedies on the market all claim to have some method of speeding up the process using pharmaceuticals, but the only real drugs that help need to be prescribed. The best home methods are common sense.

Reduce salt

Reducing salt in your diet is step one. Sodium is one of the key causes of swelling in our diets, and it does little to aid a newly performed liposuction. As a result, most doctors recommend a sodium-free diet for at least 12 days after liposuction is performed.

Eat protein

Keeping a protein-high diet is also key to staying healthy. People who had a lot of fat removed a lot of protein in the process as well, and protein is one of the key ingredients to boosting your body’s regenerative processes, so make sure you stock up on Peanut Butter or ham cold cuts before your procedure.

Move

Being active and moving around a lot is also useful. Now, as mentioned earlier, exercise is to, generally speaking, be avoided for a little while, but that doesn’t mean you can’t move a lot. Do sitting exercises, yoga, or any other number of movement-based exercise that doesn’t require extreme physical stress as a normal workout would.

Hydrate

Drinking plenty of water is always important to one’s health, but hydrating after a liposuction procedure is especially important. Drink 2 liters a day, at minimum, and make sure not to fall behind. The easiest way to do this is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water throughout the day.

Avoid tight waistbands

Wearing loose-fitting clothing is probably going to occur naturally for someone who is stuck in the house most of the day anyway, but a recent liposuction patient should always avoid tight waistbands for a while. Make sure you have a ready supply of sweatpants and don’t wear anything that feels like it restricts your abdomen.

Wear a compression garment for 1 to 2 months

That said, compression garments can be very useful, and help the body to adjust to its new state. Wearing compression long underwear, compression socks, or even compression facial wraps in the case of face-based liposuction can be hugely beneficial to the healing process.

Ask For Help

If you feel like you’re not healing quickly enough for you to return to your everyday functions, you can always ask your doctor for aid. There are certain prescription drugs that will help, though you shouldn’t rely on them. Ask your doctor if you feel these are right for you.

Rest Up

And of course, the most beneficial tool for your body’s natural regeneration and repair is plenty of sleep. Depriving yourself of rest is the single worst thing you can do for your body’s healing, so make sure you get plenty of sleep.

How do I maintain my new look?

Maintaining the new fabulous look that liposuction has given you is as simple as it always has been- proper dieting and plenty of exercises. It would be nice to believe that there’s a magic pill to stay perfect, but it’s all just a matter of keeping a healthy and committed lifestyle.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

(H3) Always consult your doctor for post-op instructions

Your doctor should be the number one consultant through all of the processes. Not the internet, not your trendy friend who reads medical magazines sometimes, and not the next-door neighbor who seems like he knows a thing or two. Your doctor is your first and best source for information regarding your procedure.

(H3) How much pain will I be in after liposuction?

The degree of pain that a patient will find themselves in after liposuction is dependent upon the patient’s pain threshold, the procedure they had done, and how much fat was removed and from where, but ultimately, it’s definitely going to be an uncomfortable few days afterward. However, after the first 2-4 days, the pain will only be a soreness in the affected spot.

(H3) How long does it take for the soreness to go away after liposuction?

The soreness will disappear after a week or two, but if it persists, one should definitely consult their doctor.

Will I see results right away?

You will not, unfortunately, see results right away, but the results will begin to manifest within 1-2 months.

Will I have scars?

Because there is a necessity for very small incisions during the liposuction procedure, a bit of small scarring is guaranteed. However, the scars are exceedingly small- a few millimeters, at most- and tend to be in relatively hidden or otherwise tactfully located places.

How much fat will be removed?

How much fat will be removed is entirely based on the amount of fat the patient has, the patient’s prerogative, and what is medically safe for the patient. Consult with your doctor before the procedure to discuss how much fat it is safe to remove. Right now, the most fat that surgeons are legally allowed to remove is 11 pounds.

Will the fat grow back?

While the fat won’t necessarily grow back, it will without proper care over one’s diet and body. Keep a regular exercise regiment and a low-fat diet, and you should be fine.

How many clothing sizes will I go down?

The number of clothing sizes that you’ll remove through liposuction is directly tied to how much fat you lose. It’s safe to say, however, that in the case of a tummy tuck or other such liposuction procedures that reduce waist size, the patient will probably lose at least one clothing size.

When Can I See the Results?

“When can I see results” is often asked about cosmetic surgery, and with liposuction, it varies based on the surgical technique of the procedure. An open-drain technique, lacking stitches, can take about a month to resolve, and a procedure that closes with stitches can take 8-10 weeks for the swelling to completely subside.

Contact us today to schedule your appointment with the renowned plastic surgeon and breast & body specialist Dr. Mark Schusterman. Take your first steps to a more beautiful you.

1200 Binz St Suite 1198, Houston, TX 77004