Liposuction Surgery – What to Expect from Your Recovery and Results

Published: April 4, 2024
Category: Dr. Robert Wilke, Liposuction, General

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeon’s (ASPS) annual plastic surgery statistics report, over 325,000 Americans enhanced the shape and contours of their body with liposuction surgery in 2022. That makes liposuction the most popular plastic surgery in the United States (it’s always in a close race with breast augmentation!), and it’s no wonder why. Millions of people worldwide struggle with excess body fat that doesn’t seem to budge, even with diet and exercise. Liposuction is an effective solution to remove stubborn bulges of fat and redefine the body’s natural contours, especially the abdominal area, back, hips, and thighs. As with any surgery, having realistic expectations of your procedure is essential. Here’s what to expect from your recovery and results following liposuction surgery.

Liposuction Basics

“As plastic surgery goes, liposuction is a very versatile, highly customizable, and minimally invasive procedure,” explains Dr. Robert Wilke, a board-certified plastic surgeon and partner at Edina Plastic Surgery. “It removes stubborn pockets of subcutaneous fat to help redefine the contours and shape of the body. Liposuction is most commonly performed on the abdomen, hips, thighs, upper arms, and back; however, it is also very effective under the chin. It’s frequently performed with other surgeries like tummy tuck and thigh lift to enhance their results as well. Even though it is a minimally invasive procedure, liposuction can dramatically affect the overall shape of the body and help patients achieve their desired aesthetic.”

The liposuction process typically begins with the administration of anesthesia. After, a small incision is made near whatever body areas are being treated. This could be one or multiple points of entry, but your surgeon will do their best to ensure that there are as few incisions as possible and that they are as hidden and discreet as they can be. Then, a small cannula will be inserted into the incisions and moved around to dislodge fat in the surrounding area. The cannula has a suction tip at the end of it, which will pull the fat out of the body. The incisions are then closed, and a patient’s recovery process begins.

What happens right after liposuction surgery?

“When you wake up after liposuction surgery, it is normal to feel swollen, tender, and a bit sore,” says Dr. Wilke. “The degree of discomfort varies from patient to patient, but many find it easy to manage with over-the-counter medications. However, we can prescribe pain medication for those who need it, especially if multiple areas were treated during your surgery. Although redness and bruising will also be present, you will not immediately notice these until your first shower because you will be in compression garments to reduce swelling in the area for up to eight weeks.”

Like any surgery, how well you heal and recover from liposuction is vital to your final outcome. The typical recovery time is about 4-6 weeks. Most patients return to work by week two and can resume normal activities by week four.

Seven tips for an excellent recovery from liposuction surgery

#1 – Follow your post-care instructions and stay in communication with your Edina Plastic Surgery team

“Every action you need to take for a successful recovery from liposuction surgery is thoroughly outlined in your post-care instructions,” stresses Dr. Wilke. “Use these as a roadmap to chart the course of what you should be doing each day and week following your surgery. Reach out to Edina Plastic Surgery if you have any questions during this time, and make sure to keep all of your follow-up appointments with your surgeon. Edina Plastic Surgery makes this super easy with our text messaging system that allows you to reach out to our team with any questions or concerns at any time.”

#2 – Wear your compression garments

Although not comfortable or stylish, compression garments are essential to healing well following liposuction surgery. They reduce swelling and help shape the area as it heals. You will most likely be given a set of two garments so one can be laundered while the other is being worn.

#3 – Keep incision sites clean

“Incisions are very minimal with liposuction and, once healed, are barely noticeable. However, they still should be given special attention to ensure the best outcome,” says Dr. Wilke. “Incisions will be taped after your surgery, and we strongly recommend keeping them taped for as long as possible to avoid any tension on dissolvable sutures. As the tape naturally falls off, you can cleanse the area with gentle soap in the shower and apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment or vitamin E oil to keep skin healthy and hydrated as it continues to heal.”

#4 – Keep moving

It’s important to keep moving after liposuction surgery to encourage blood flow. This will help oxygenate healing tissues and assist with lymphatic drainage to reduce swelling. The first week after your surgery, you will be advised to get up and take short walks around your house every hour you are not asleep. The duration of your activity can increase a bit with each passing week.

#5 – Stay super hydrated and eat clean

“Healing from surgery requires a lot of energy from your body, even at rest,” says Dr. Wilke. “This means it will burn more calories while it repairs tissues and require more water for your lymphatic system to carry away waste products as swelling reduces. During your recovery, be sure to eat a diet rich in lean proteins, vegetables, and fruits to ensure the body has the vital nutrients and calories it needs to mend. Strive to drink around 60 or more ounces of water each day to stay hydrated and discourage any constipation that may occur with some pain medications.”

#6 – Avoid alcohol and smoking

If you want a faster, healthier recovery from liposuction surgery, abstain from alcohol and smoking for at least eight weeks after your procedure. Alcohol can cause complications with many pain prescriptions and can also trigger bloating and inflammation in the body while it is trying to heal.

All forms of tobacco use, including smoking, vaping, and chewing tobacco, cause capillary and vascular damage, which can prevent tissues from healing well after surgery and even lead to infection and other vascular complications. Both alcohol consumption and smoking dramatically heighten your risk for complications both before and after liposuction surgery.

#7 – Prioritize rest

“Because liposuction is minimally invasive, many patients feel as though they can jump right back into their normal activities soon after surgery,” warns Dr. Wilke. “But remember, your liposuction recovery is happening under the skin for the most part. So even when the skin’s surface looks fine, healing is still happening in the deeper layers we cannot see. Our body repairs itself during states of rest, so taking it easy after liposuction is vital to your recovery. Although your surgeon will want you up and walking frequently after surgery, make sure to prioritize rest. This will allow the body to fully devote its energy and resources to repairing tissues, reducing swelling, and ensuring a beautiful recovery and results!”

When will I see results after liposuction surgery?

“Most patients heal rapidly in the first few weeks after liposuction, but expect that swelling will not fully subside for several months,” stresses Dr. Wilke. “By week eight, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the results you’ve achieved with liposuction, but anticipate that results will continue to improve up to six months after your procedure.”

If you are ready to learn more about how liposuction can help you achieve your goals, or if you would like to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Robert Wilke or another board-certified plastic surgeon at Edina Plastic Surgery, call (612) 688-3177, text (952) 925-1765 or CLICK HERE!

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