What to Expect After Liposuction Surgery

By: Dr. Nicholas K. Howland


Liposuction is a popular cosmetic procedure that can help you achieve your desired body shape. It involves removing unwanted fat from the body to recontour and tone areas of the body like the stomach, buttocks, arms, back, and more. Here are some things to know about the recovery process after liposuction, including pain management and best practices for healing.

1. Swelling

After liposuction, you may have swelling and bruising for up to 3 months. This can make it difficult to see how much fat was removed during surgery. Swelling tends to peak between 7-10 days after surgery and then gradually subside over time.

2. Bruising and Discomfort

Liposuction isn’t painful, but most people experience some discomfort after surgery and bruising are normal. Bruising usually goes away within a week or two of surgery. If bruising persists longer than expected, let your doctor know so they can check for complications related to bleeding or infection.

3. Pain Medication

Your surgeon will give you pain medication before and after surgery to help manage any soreness or discomfort. Take your pain medication exactly as directed by Dr. Howland until it runs out or is no longer needed. Do not take more than what is prescribed or take it more often than directed by the doctor without first consulting. Some pain medications have side effects such as stomach upset and constipation that may make it difficult for you to eat enough food during recovery.

4. Wear Loose Clothing

Wear loose clothing for two weeks following your procedure, and avoid hot baths or showers until then as well. You should also wear loose clothing while sleeping and avoid wearing tight clothing during recovery because they can increase swelling and discomfort.

5. Avoid Bending

Do not bend over at the waist for three days after surgery because you risk opening the incisions, which will impact the healing process and your results. This restriction may last longer if there are still stitches in place or if you have a large amount of fat removed from one area of your body.

6. Avoid Strenuous Activities

Do not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for two weeks after your surgery. This includes lifting children or groceries. If you must lift anything heavier than 10 pounds, do it slowly and carefully, using both arms instead of one arm at a time. You should also avoid exercising and swimming during this recovery period. Any of these activities could cause your stitches to come apart.

7. Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of fluids — at least eight 8-ounce glasses per day — to prevent dehydration after liposuction. Your body needs water to function properly and help it through the healing process. Avoiding alcohol during your recovery will also prevent dehydration and dangerous side effects that come from mixing alcohol and pain medication.

8. Scar Healing

Liposuction creates small and barely noticeable scars with proper treatment by a plastic surgeon. The incisions made during liposuction surgery are very small — about half an inch long — and often hidden in natural skin folds. If you’re concerned about potential scarring, you can discuss options for laser treatments and other options that will help your scars fade quickly.

Schedule a Consultation

We hope this guide has answered some of your questions about liposuction recovery. If you have any further questions or are considering liposuction, schedule your consultation at Howland Plastic Surgery today!

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.