Quite a few doctors are annoyed when they encounter well-meaning but rather uninformed patients who expect liposuction to be like putting on makeup. That’s not quite how it works, of course. Liposuction is a surgical procedure, and that usually entails some sort of recovery period afterwards.
In fact, the recovery period can take a while. It can be different depending on the person (along with factors like age, general health, and the size and location of the treatment area). However, in general, the recovery period can take about 4 to 6 weeks, and sometimes even up to 3 months.
To help make sure you know what you’re in for if you opt for liposuction, here’s a typical timeline of the entire recovery period:
Immediately After the Procedure
Okay, the liposuction is done. Now what? Usually, the clinical staff will take care of your immediate post-op needs until you’re ready to head home. They’ll put on the bandages and compression garments around the treated areas.
- You’ll probably be still a bit groggy due to the anesthesia, so you’ll need someone to drive you home. You might need to rest first, or even take a short nap.
- You may notice some bruising and swelling.
- There will probably be some mild to moderate pain, and you’ll be limited in your movements.
1st Day at Home
- You’ll still be groggy, so you may need someone to help you run errands around the house. You should continue to rest and sleep.
- The pain might get stronger as the anesthesia wears off, for which you’ll need the prescribed painkillers. Ice packs may also help with the swelling.
- Some fluid might come out of the wound. That’s normal and expected.
- Wear the compression garments all the time. This is crucial to avoid complications. Don’t take a bath or shower.
- Follow all the post-op therapy instructions that the staff gave you.
Next Few Days of the 1st Week
- It’s normal for the treated area to still look bruised and swollen.
- After a few days, you should start to feel a bit better. In fact, it’s entirely possible that you might feel good enough to get to work.
- You still must avoid any heavy lifting or intense workouts. But if you’re feeling up to it, you should move around a bit and may take some short strolls around the neighborhood.
- Actually, after 2 days, you’re required to stand up and walk around every 2 to 3 hours. This can help prevent blood clots that can lead to complications.
The Follow-Up Appointment
Usually, you have a follow-up appointment with your liposuction doctor at the end of the 1st week. The doctor will check you out thoroughly to assess how you’re doing, and to deal with any potential complications.
The doctor can also give you additional bits of advice on how you’ll proceed with the recovery. you’ll also find out what kind of physical activities you can do at this point.
- You’re still not able to go swimming or to take a bath. You want to avoid having your treatment wounds get in contact with water, as that can increase the risk of infection.
- But you may be able to remove your garments so you can take a shower, as long as you’re very careful with the water contact.
2nd to 4th Weeks
- As the first month passes, the pain should subside significantly. There may still be some sort of discomfort.
- You most likely can take a shower now, though again you need to be careful about the water contact.
- You may also do some mild to moderate physical activity, like longer strolls or walking on a treadmill. Just get the go-ahead signal from your doctor first to be sure. It might take a while before you can lift weights, and for that you need the explicit approval of your doctor as well.
- Even after a few weeks, you’ll still have a bit of bruising and swelling. You should still check the treatment areas regularly, and report any lumps that may have formed.
- When the bruising and swelling improves, you may notice some initial results from the liposuction.
- During this time, it’s normal if you experience mood swings and you feel a bit down more often. But be patient and keep following your doctor’s instructions.
The 2nd and 3rd Months
- After the first month, you may get the go-ahead signal from the doctor so you can stop using the compression garments.
- There may still be some swelling. But the treatment area should look better over time. If there’s any persistent redness or skin rash, tell your doctor about it. These may be signs of infection.
- The liposuction results will be more noticeable, and you’ll notice that the treated area does look slimmer.
After the end of the 3rd month, you should be able to see the complete results of the liposuction!