Liposuction Recovery

Liposuction procedures are often completed in a single day. In the majority of cases, patients spend several hours at the clinic, but are permitted to return home on the same day. However, recovery  time is increased when a general anaesthetic is used. Apart from exceptional circumstances, doctors will keep patients who have undergone general anaesthesia in medical care overnight. It is highly recommended that patients arrange for a friend or family member to drive them or otherwise make sure they arrive home safely.

Following the procedure, the patient should try to sleep as much as possible to accelerate the body’s natural ability to recuperate. Most forms of anaesthesia will not require such a lengthy period of rest; the type of anaesthesia provided will depend on the scale of the operation.

Liposuction Recovery

Pain and Swelling After Liposuction

An epidural anaesthesia may be employed in surgeries that only treat the lower body. It may be as minimal as two hours for the effect of the anaesthesia to wear off. Following surgery, doctors will administer painkillers (analgesics), which the patient ingests orally. Painkillers are designed to reduce the patient’s physical discomfort and minimize swelling. Individuals with a history of anaemia will receive iron tablets to prevent extreme fatigue: this is of particular importance if the individual has lost blood during the procedure. The tablets are effective at producing the essential haemoglobin needed for the oxygenation of blood in the body. The medication, however, may cause nausea; be sure to report any unusual symptoms to the physician.

It is common for patients to experience swelling and bruising in the areas where incisions and stitching occurred during the liposuction procedure. Compression garments and elasticized bandages are prescribed immediately after the surgery to discourage and contain swelling – these should be worn for several weeks. Physicians may also recommend the use of cold compresses to reduce swelling in affected areas and, depending on the location of the area, suggest that the area be raised to redirect circulation.

Post Operative Care Instructions

In the weeks following the procedure, patients are responsible for the care and disinfection of stitches and should be as vigilant as their circumstances permit. The surgeon who performed the procedure will provide an information package on how to clean affected areas properly. It is important to keep the sutured areas as dry as possible immediately after surgery (though the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence states that it does not pose a risk of infection for post-operative patients to shower 48 hours after the stitching is performed). Individuals who receive a dressing on top of stitches must keep the entire apparatus arid until instructed otherwise. Methods of keeping these crucial areas dry may include wearing rubber gloves or a plastic bag when washing, standing while bathing and using a washcloth (as opposed to submerging the body in shower or bath water).

Physical Activity

Some temporary lifestyle restrictions are necessary as well. For example, as a precautionary measure, patients should avoid contact sports and any other strenuous physical activity up until the stitches are removed. Otherwise, rubbing or scratching may cause the stitches to prematurely tear off, which could potentially compromise how effectively the wounds heal.

warning signs that may indicate infection

Warning signs for infection include excessive amounts of redness and swelling; if either symptom emerges, the patient is advised to contact the surgeon as soon as possible. Two other less common though serious warning signs that may indicate infection include an unpleasant odour emanating from the wound, swollen glands, increased pain, fever, or an abnormally warm sensation in the sutured area. Plastic surgeons will typically administer antibiotics to decrease the likelihood or severity of infection. It is important to note, however, that antibiotics will only reduce the possibility of infection and cannot fully eliminate it. Generally, stitches on the body are removed after 7 to 10 days, though the length of time will depend a great deal on the type and scale of the procedure. Normal physical activity can typically resume relatively soon after the stitches have been removed. The operating physician will be able to give the best estimate on what the patient should be able do immediately following the removal of the sutures.


The two most popular options for painkillers following liposuction surgeries are paracetamol and ibuprofen. These two types are ideal for patients who have received incisions because unlike a host of other pain relievers, they do not increase the risk of bleeding and swelling. Paracetamol is designed to alleviate moderate to severe pain. It works by inhibiting the function of prostaglandins, which are naturally occurring chemicals that trigger the body’s awareness of injury and illness. Additionally, paracetamol cools the body by modifying the part of the brain responsible for temperature regulation. This is important for patients who experience symptoms of a fever (or “pyrexia”) post-surgery. While paracetamol may be very helpful in inhibiting unpleasant symptoms and sensations, it should be taken with caution by anyone with a kidney problem, liver problem, or alcohol dependence. Side effects of the drug include rash and low blood pressure. If either of these symptoms emerge, a physician should be contacted as soon as possible. Paracetamol is available without a prescription in a number of countries where liposuctions are performed.

Ibuprofen is an even more common over-the-counter option for treating adverse symptoms following a liposuction procedure. Ibuprofen helps reduce mild to moderate pain by blocking the production and reception of prostaglandins. The medication is particularly suited for easing pain, swelling, fevers, and inflammation. The use of either painkiller in conjunction with the prescribed compression garment or elastic bandage is a popular medical strategy for addressing the common array of potential complications following liposuction operations. Active care and self-monitoring on the part of the patient is the best way of ensuring optimal results for the days in between the surgery and subsequent check-ups

Liposuction Recovery FAQ