More often than not, when a patient is considering liposuction, their first questions are about the recovery process.
While each liposuction procedure is unique, we thought we should take some time to answer a few general questions. This blog will also give you a roadmap of the issues you need to discuss with your doctor well before your procedure so that you are adequately prepared for the recovery process.
How long will recovery take?
Your recovery time will depend on a few things. First of all, the larger the area of treatment is, the longer recovery will take. Secondly, your overall health can impact recovery time. The healthier you are at the outset, the shorter your recovery time will be. Finally, if you don’t follow your doctor’s instruction or rush your recovery, it could ultimately elongate the recovery process.
You should begin walking, even if it’s only a few slow steps, as soon as possible after your surgery. This helps prevent blood clots and can speed overall recovery. Most of our patients, regardless of treatment area, find they can return to work after a few days, depending on their line of work. As for exercise, you will need to slowly work back up to your fitness level post-surgery. It may take a number of weeks before you can safely lift weights or complete a strenuous cardio workout.
Will I need to wear a compression garment and for how long?
It is likely that your doctor will instruct you to wear a compression garment that is designed specifically for the area where the liposuction was performed. Compression garments help keep swelling and bruising to a minimum and also improve circulation, which aids healing. Compression garments are also important so you do not end up with areas of loose skin at the liposuction area.
Most of our patients wear their compression garment for three to four weeks post-surgery.
Will I need to take medications?
Your doctor will discuss your need for antibiotics with you beforehand. For most patients, we prescribe antibiotics as a precaution. We will also likely prescribe oral pain medication for you to take post-surgery. It is normal for our patients to take pain medication, either over the counter or prescription for a week or two after their surgeries.
We highly suggest that you pick up these prescriptions prior to your surgery, even if you don’t think you will need them. You will not feel like stopping by the pharmacy after your surgery (trust us on this) to pick up medications and you don’t want to be stuck at home and in pain without pain medication or antibiotics so it’s better to be safe than sorry and plan ahead.
How do I care for the incision site?
Your doctor will give you specific instructions about how to care for your incision. We recommend that, if possible, someone accompany you to the meeting before your surgery with your doctor so that someone else will understand what you need after surgery, when you may be to groggy to remember correctly.
Your incision site will probably have stitches and will be covered with bandages before you leave our offices. Since incision areas can sometimes be leaky, your doctor may insert a drainage tube at your incision site.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions about how often to change your bandages and how to clean the area. Depending on where your incision is and how you feel about cleaning your wound, you may want to enlist the help of a friend of family member for this.
Expect not to shower for at least 48 hours after your surgery. Do not take a bath or soak in the tub until after your stitches have been removed.
What can I do to make the recovery process go as quickly and safely as possible?
The number one thing you can do to aid your recovery process is to rest and follow the directions of your doctor to a “T.” Your nutrition can also support (or hinder) your recovery. Make a special point to stay hydrated with non-caffeinated beverages. You can drink caffeinated beverages as well, but don’t rely on them for hydration. Eat as healthy as you can and make sure you are getting adequate or increased low-fat protein. Your body will be working hard to repair itself and it will need the excess energy.
How do I know if I am recovering normally or if something is wrong?
Some swelling, bruising, pain and drainage will accompany your post-surgery recovery. However, if anything seems to be abnormal or getting worse instead of better, it may be a sign of infection or another serious post-surgical complication. Here is a list of things to watch for. If you observe any of these, call your doctor immediately.
- Severe or increased swelling.
- Heat or increased tenderness / pain at incision site.
- Pus or blood draining from the incision.
- Shortness of breath.
- Changing skin color or skin sloughing off near or at incision site.
When do I need to have follow-up appointments?
Your doctor will have you schedule your first post-surgery follow-up before your surgery. Make sure you write down the day and time of your appointment in a prominent place in your home so you don’t forget.
Your first follow-up will probably be a few days after your surgery. Your doctor may use dissolvable stitches but, if not, you will also need an appointment to have the stitches removed once your wound has healed.
When will I see optimum results?
Remember that after surgery, the area where liposuction was performed will be swollen. Even after the swelling goes down, sometimes your body needs time to adjust to its new contour. Depending on the size of the area treated, you may see optimal results within a few weeks, or it make take a few months.
Remember, these are just some of the many questions we get and they are only generic answers. You need to discuss each one of these points with your doctor before your surgery (and not the day of your surgery!) to make sure that you are mentally and physically prepared to take on recovery from liposuction.
As always, the staff and doctors at Dermatologic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about liposuction or any of our other procedures.
Contact us today to arrange a free first consultation at 312-230.0180.