Your surgeon and their staff will explain to you what you should expect after liposuction surgery, but there are some common misconceptions around what to expect. Liposuction is a surgical procedure, and like any surgical procedure it requires time for healing before you’re back to 100%. Here are the ten major things you should expect after liposuction surgery.
1. You’ll have some swelling (your immediate results aren’t your final results)
Immediately after liposuction, you’ll have some swelling in the area treated. This is normal and expected. It’s common to look in the mirror after liposuction and not see the reduction you were hoping for – give it time! In addition to swelling, immediately after a procedure you will likely still have some tumescent fluid in the area that will drain. Your results immediately after the procedure can look amazing – but if they don’t, give it time. We expect optimal results at about 3 months – that’s when we’ll have you back to take your “after” photos.
2. You’ll need someone to drive you home
We’ll give you oral sedatives to help you relax during the procedure. Afterwards, it’s normal to experience some grogginess – so don’t plan to attend any parties immediately after your procedure. You won’t be allowed to drive yourself home from a liposuction procedure, so make sure you have someone who can take you home. At Houston Lipo Center, we don’t allow patients to take cabs or ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft – a responsible adult is required. If that’s just not possible, we can assist you in finding a qualified medical transport service.
3. You’ll probably need to take some time off work
Liposuction is surgery! There are some exceptions, but most of the time you’ll need to plan to take the next 48 hours off of work. Not only will you be a little groggy, you’ll likely have some drainage and just in general feel a bit tired. Liposuction is not something to schedule at the same time as a big work project or deadline.
4. You may have some pain or discomfort
Everyone’s body is different, and different people have different pain tolerances. Some patients won’t feel any pain post-op, but others do. It’s important to know that some pain or discomfort after a liposuction procedure is normal and not necessarily a sign that something is wrong. We provide every liposuction patient with a prescription for pain medication that you can fill if needed after your procedure, to ensure that you have quick access to pain relief if you need it.
5. You’ll have some drainage
Regardless of what type of liposuction procedure you have you’re going to have some incisions after a liposuction procedure, and some drainage from the site is to be expected over the next 48 hours. That’s one reason why you might not want to go back to work! You’ll be provided with the necessary gauze and medical tape and need to change these out regularly over the course of the next couple of days. The incisions themselves should heal on their own without stitches, though there may be cases where a single stitch is necessary.
6. You’ll have follow-up appointments
Just because surgery is over doesn’t mean you’re done. You’ll need to come back the next day (or Monday if your appointment is on a Friday) to allow your surgeon to examine the incisions and ensure proper healing. Generally you’ll have another appointment at two weeks and another at three months, although some areas may require more frequent follow-ups.
7. You’ll need a couple of weeks to fully recover
Don’t expect to spend a couple of days off and be back to normal. Even though you can’t see it, your body is still healing. You’ll be limited to low-impact exercise for the next couple of weeks. Your surgeon will let you know when you can return to your usual activities. Two weeks is a guide, but some patients – especially older patients – may need longer, so it’s important to keep those follow up appointments.
8. Your skin will retract slowly
When fat is removed through liposuction or weight loss, the skin that was previously stretched out can now feel a bit loose. Loose skin will naturally retract (just ask any woman who’s been through pregnancy) over time. If you had liposuction with a skin-tightening treatment such as a laser or RF treatment, the results won’t be immediate. These treatments promote the formation of collagen, which makes skin more elastic, but it takes about three months for final results.
9. Your scars (if you have them) will fade over time
After liposuction, some patients will notice visible scarring – about the size of a freckle – at the incision site. These are done in inconspicuous locations and generally most people won’t see them unless they’re pointed out. These scars will fade gradually, but it takes time. Your surgeon will have after-care instructions to help minimize the appearance of scars (stay out of the sun!), and it’s important to follow them.
10. You’re not immune to fat
It’s tempting to think that after liposuction you’re free to eat whatever you like, but that’s just not true! Fat doesn’t regenerate, but that doesn’t mean that extra calories will bounce right off you. You’ll lose or gain weight depending on your diet and exercise routine, the same as always.