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Timeline for Liposuction Recovery

By The Landings Surgical Centre on February 14, 2014


Nova Scotia Liposuction RecoveryThere are multiple factors that play a role in the success of any body contouring procedure. Naturally, the experience of the plastic surgeon and the specific technique used will largely influence the procedure's results. However, the subsequent recovery period also contributes to a patient’s satisfaction, and can even affect the treatment’s final outcome. As one of the most popular body contouring procedures, liposuction requires that patients take proper care of themselves after surgery. In order to help our patients have the best possible experience with their treatment, we offer the following recovery timeline for liposuction.

The Day of Surgery

After surgery, patients may feel drowsy or fatigued as a result of anesthesia, although this depends largely on whether a general or local anesthetic is used. The most immediate effects of surgery will be discomfort and light bleeding, the latter of which should already be controlled through surgical bandages and dressings. To help limit discomfort early on, patients are recommended to take any prescribed painkillers as directed. This is best done before the anesthetic completely wears off, as it is easier to curb pain before it sets in. Some patients prefer a milder, over-the-counter painkiller, which can also be sufficient.

After arriving home, patients should rest for the remainder of the day and be prepared to relax over the following few days. Any physical exertion so soon after surgery can worsen side effects and increase the risks of complications.   

The First Week of Recovery

In the first few days after surgery, patients can expect certain side effects to surface. In addition to soreness, the area of liposuction will likely undergo swelling and bruising, becoming worst around the third or fourth day of recovery. Certain surgical techniques, such as tumescent liposuction, can reduce these side effects, but their prevalence is also dependent upon the amount of tissue removed and how a patient’s body responds to surgery. Throughout the first week, patients will experience the most tiring but important stage of recovery as the incisions and subcutaneous tissues begin to heal. During this stage, we recommend the following:

  • A cold/warm compress: To reduce the onset of swelling, gently apply a cold compress for 10 to 15 minutes at a time over the first 48 hours. Once swelling has begun to subside, a warm compress can be used to promote circulation and soothe the area.  
  • Wear your compression garment as directed: After surgery, you may be given an elastic compression garment to wear around the area of liposuction. This surgical dressing is used to reduce side effects, increase circulation and fluid passage, limit certain complications, and hasten recovery time. Wear it as directed, until otherwise instructed by your doctor.
  • Move around occasionally: Although you should be resting and avoiding strenuous tasks, do not confine yourself to a bed for too long. Get up and take a light walk once in a while to maintain healthy circulation and reduce the risk of a blood clot.

Typically, patients can return to work after a week, with some opting to do so after only a few days. As with any plastic surgery treatment, recovery times will vary among patients.    

The Following Weeks and Months

In the weeks after surgery, patients will gradually have increased strength and energy levels. Although most people will be able to return to nearly all routine activities after two weeks, any physical demanding activities should be avoided for at least a month, including heavy lifting. In regard to exercises and similarly demanding tasks, it is best to hold off until your doctor has given you permission to resume them.

After about a month, swelling should have subsided enough that you will begin to see the benefits of your liposuction. However, swelling may not fully resolve until six months after surgery, at which point the body’s skin and tissues will have finally healed and settled into place. It is therefore best to judge your new contours only after your doctor has determined that tissues have fully healed. With the right care during recovery and a healthy diet and lifestyle, you can achieve truly satisfying and long lasting results. 

Contact Us to Learn More

Liposuction can be performed for many areas of the body, using a variety of techniques. To learn more about liposuction and our other body contouring procedures, schedule an appointment with us. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you meet all of your personal cosmetic goals.

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"Our doctors and staff are cheerful, friendly, calm, courteous, and efficient. They have an excellent rapport with each other and work very much as a team."

JoAnne Reid, Nursing Director, The Landings Surgical Centre

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1477 Lower Water St
Ste 7A
Halifax, NS B3J 3Z4

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