Liposuction : Recovery and Postoperative instructions

Villanova, PA

Recovering from liposuction is typically much easier than a patient would ever imagine. It is not uncommon to take just the weekend off and be back at work on Monday after a cosmetic liposuction procedure. This educational writing reviews recovery and postoperative instructions for liposuction and liposculpture. This writing was done at the request of a patient from Villanova, Pa.

fat is the enemy

Liposculpture is done to remove unwanted fat in a wide number of areas. The procedure can be done to the stomach fat, love-handles, legs, arms, back, and neck. Recovery can vary for any operation and for each individual. I typically describe recovery from all my cosmetic operations in extreme detail to my patients. With liposuction, I emphasize that the pain is “not that bad,” but bruising and swelling take time to resolve. That statement is a relative overview. I have seen patients have lots of pain after surgery, and I have seen others have essentially none. Most people have minimal pain.


“How much pain will I have?” is one of the questions most frequently asked. You probably will be pleasantly surprised. I find that the evening of the procedure patients experience pain that isn’t severe. Pain medication readily makes people comfortable. The next morning, however, most people are telling me they are just “sore.” I am surprised myself how quickly it dissipates. The soreness can last for 3-10 days. It is often described as I feel “like I had a hard workout in the gym.” The quick resolution of the pain allows for quick recovery to most activities and return to job performance. Everyone is different of coarse. Some people report more pain than others. In my experience, 95% or more of patients are pleased with the low level of pain.

Bruising and Swelling

Bruising and swelling usually takes longer to go away than the pain. This will gradually subside over a week to two weeks. Some swelling can take even longer to resolve. Most people have at some time had a bruise and swelling from an injury or surgery. This can be a guideline to swelling resolution. It tends to go away quickly at first. The first week you will see a lot of bruising disappear. This period can show the bruising change colors as the healing takes place. Over the next two weeks, the swelling goes away more slowly and it is more gradual and less noticeable. By a month or two, the great majority of swelling is gone.


Drainage is common after all cosmetic operations and this includes liposuction. The drainage tends to be pink or light red in color. You will have gauze over the small little holes. These small holes are used to place the cannulas that suction fat. This gauze often gets wet and can be saturated. Sometimes it can be frustrating or worrisome that it is wet. But it is not a problem. Significant bleeding after liposuction is extremely rare. Bleeding is normal to a small degree and this is what is usually experienced. The drainage significantly diminishes over the first two days. After this, patients might use a band-aid, panty-liner, or more gauze. It typically is completely done draining after 3-4 days.


Activity can be slowly increased after your operation. This might include driving the very next day after surgery. This requires that you can drive defensively and are alert and oriented. You need to be off narcotic pain pills to drive. Many people can switch to Motrin or Tylenol the day after surgery. I do recommend that patients take it easy for several days. Rest and relaxation is important after all cosmetic operations. We don’t want to overdo it too quickly. Resuming desk jobs might take just 2-4 days. Activity can be gradually increased. This means walking after 2-3 days and unlimited activity in just 7-10 days. It is very possible to have liposuction on a Thursday or Friday and be back at work on Monday and hitting the gym after a week!



Showering is allowed after 48 hours. You can be in a bathrobe after the shower, as you wash and dry your compression garment. After it is dry, it should be worn as much as possible. Different compression garments are available. The one provided is typically black and chosen by me for your operation. However, there are different garments that are also called body shapers and girdles. Many stores sell these. You can switch after a couple days to another brand or color or fabric. The concept is that the garment should apply pressure to the surgical areas that were suctioned. If the body shaper or girdle is doing this, then it is a good fit. Many people like a second garment to have for work or when the other one is drying. Additional information on garments can be found in the tummy tuck section.

Fat is the enemy!

The final postoperative instruction is to watch your weight. The Liposculpting is done to remove fat. “Fat is the enemy!” Your weight is a major determinate of the final result. If you do not gain any weight at all, then the result you get will be significant. However, for the person who wants to shed a few pounds, now is the time. Weight loss after liposuction can make the results amazingly better. It can turn the home run into a grand-slam. I have seen many patients get serious with exercise and nutrition after surgery. With some weight loss, they have contributed to the result and feel better, thinner, and sexier. Weight loss can give results that are more than surgery can do alone.

Weight gain conversely can ruin the results. Do not do this. If this happens, you can get the result back by losing the weight. We just don’t want to do this. It can not be over emphasized how important watching your weight is after surgery. I have nutrition writings in the educational writing section of the menu. Read these. They might help you with new and honest information about nutrition.

Diet, exercise, and nutrition are part of the best liposuction! We are a team in the fight against excess fat. The operation can give amazing results that helps define and sculpt you. Working out and exercise are essential ingredients in this. I will help you with these goals as part of your overall care!

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