Directly after the surgery
The first part of your liposuction post op care is to not expect to get yourself home. Make sure someone else is with you to help you if you feel groggy, both on the way home and ideally for the first or second night too. And don’t expect to drive yourself home please.
Food and diet
Drinking a lot of water after your surgery is an important part of liposuction post op care. This will help your lymphatic system to run efficiently which in turn will help to reduce your swelling, and give you a smoother finish.
Also, we don’t recommend that you eat simplpe carbs (bread, rice etc) or sugars, nor drink alcohol for at least a month post liposuction surgery.
Initially after your liposuction we recommend that you take it easy for at least a few hours. Don’t drive, operate machinery etc and be sensible and listen to your body. You could be drowsy for at least 48 hours following your treatment, and if you’re taking the pain killers these are often Codeine based so this could last even longer. You must be sensible please. And this applies to making big decisions, whether at work or home, your brain may not be as switched on as it normally would be.
You may find that the swelling and/ or pain mean that it’s not as easy to move around as it normally would be. But after 1 to 2 days post surgery, then most people will benefit from being active. This doesn’t mean busting a stitch in the gym, gentle walking is sufficient. But doing this, like drinking water, will help your lymphatic system to be as effective as possible. This aids your healing.
If you’re a gym bunny and are itching to get back, then listen to your body and your surgeon in your follow up appointments, but expect to be looking to get back with some light exercise around 14 to 21 days post surgery. By light, we’re talking around 25% of what you’d normally hit in the gym at first and then gently increase over time by listening closely to your body. Don’t push it.
In terms of working, you could go back to work in a desk job after around 4 days or so, but you will be more uncomfortable than normal and you will need to keep moving around so factor this in.
Your compression garment
This is a popular question. Elastic compression garments are specially designed to provide you firm support. They actually help directly after surgery, they help you feel a little like you’re getting a warm hug, but over time they do become a little tiresome. Don’t lose faith. Keep with it, they are important to the quality of your finish.
Benefits of compression garments:
*Help prevent bleeding
*Encourage maximum drainage of the anaesthetic fluid
*Helps minimise unnecessary swelling
*Helps your body form stable clots reducing the chance of severe bruising and haematomas
Your surgeon will often give you a garment to wear directly after your surgery. You’re going to need to wash both yourself and your garment (your surgeon will advise when you may wash based on your operation) but try not to keep them off for more than 45 minutes each day. And when you’re not wearing it, then it’s best to rest and not move too much, especially within the first 3 days following your liposuction.
The compression garment should always be tight. Really tight. Sometimes this means you will have to wear a foam pad underneath your garment as soon as possible as you can post surgery. Just wait for your leaking to stop and then you should be good to go. Just make sure that you add a sterile dressing over your wound before you place the foam insert over it. Some have an adhesive backing. These stick directly onto your skin. Your surgeon will be around to ask any questions that you may have about these, but usually you’ll be best to wear them for at least two weeks, often more.
Sometimes you may wear a binder or foam corset, the washing instructions will be on them and this is important as you’ll often have to wear them for 2 to 4 weeks. It’s not a great idea to wear anything tight on the area that you’ve had work done on. Ideally not anywhere, but if for instance, you’ve had work on your abdomen, we will always advise to avoid tight belts and trousers.
It’s usual as your healing progresses for your size to decrease so you will more than likely have to buy another garment besides what your clinic have given you. Either in a smaller size or to wear while washing and drying the one you leave surgery with. It’s not unusual to have to wear your compression garment for anything up to 6 weeks following your vaser liposuction depending on which areas you’ve had work on.
We see a lot of clients who haven’t worn their garment as instructed and these are always the ones who have the worst post op results. We can help with manual lymphatic drainage or vacuum suction with our state of the art radiofrequency machine, but the best results are always those clients who wear their compression garments and have these massages.
Every individual experiences pain differently and their body reacts differently too. You’ll often find you have more pain in the areas that aren’t that easy to avoid, so your thighs may be more painful as we’re always sitting on them, whereas you can avoid your face and chin. The type of liposuction you’ve had will also affect the amount of pain you experience afterwards. Hi/ Mid definition liposuction can hurt more than vaser lipo.
The pain usually only lasts 2 to 5 days though, after this it’s more discomfort. This initial period is when you’re best to refrain from anything strenuous, but do gentle activities around your home. And of course, as we mentioned above, walking is excellent.
The deep ache that you get after around four days will usually last around four weeksish when you’ll usually only feel it then when you apply pressure to the area. This could go on for months.
Dizziness and fainting
If you’ve had vaser liposuction you may feel a little dizzy on and off for a few days following your operation, particularly when you stand. Do this slowly and if this happens take regular rest and don’t overdo it!
A good way to deal with dizziness is to lie down and bend your knees until the sensation subsides.
When you take your compression garment off for the first time some people may experience a more pronounced dizziness and may even faint. This is more likely if you take it off too quickly, or if you’re standing when you remove it. It’s due to the rapid decompression and can happen for 2 to 3 days following your treatment. It’s always a great idea during this time frame to remove your garment when you’re lying. And then after a few moments you can stand up. Having someone on hand to help is always another great idea.
Fainting at the sight of blood
If you know you have this issue, then just think about how and where you remove your pads. If you have someone to help, then allow them to do this and don’t look. You could even do this lying down on a bed already.
Fainting after urination
There’s a condition called post-micturation syncope that women suffer with after giving birth. This means that when they have been to the toilet they run an increased chance of fainting. This is the same for lipo patients, so after having a pee, stand up slowly and take your time. The same advice as above applies to this about coping with post urination fainting.
Post op Drainage
Your surgeon will put a fluid anaesthetic in you. After you’ve had your surgery this will leak out. It can look alarming as it is coloured with some blood and as it’s leaking out of your incision points, you think you’re about to collapse from blood loss. Panic not. This is normal for the first 24 to 48 hours. The leakage should be a light colour and thinner than blood. It is not thick like blood. And if you have any concerns at all, you should always contact your surgeon.
Although it looks scary it’s not a bad thing. The more leakage you have, then you’re less likely to have bruising and swelling, so there’s always a silver lining.
Wear your dressings and pads that you’ve been given day and night until you’ve not had leakage for 24 hours. Let the body do what it needs to. Usually you’ll need to put a cloth or something under you when you sit (for example) for the first 36 hours or so following surgery to protect your furniture. This also applies to travelling home after your surgery.
Wound care and bathing
It’s always a better idea to have someone help you with this for the first few days after you’ve had your liposuction as it can be a bit daunting on your own.
You need to keep your incisions clean, however showering instructions can vary depending on the surgery you’ve had and your surgeons particular advice. Some say 24 hours post op, others will prefer you to wait for longer so that your wounds heal before you go ahead and wet them. Listen to the advice you’ve been given.
After you’ve washed them, or used a saline spray or salt solution on them, pat them dry with a clean towel. Then recover with your sterile dressing and if necessary to use some tape to secure them.
If you have any concerns about this, please contact your surgeon or clinic immediately.
Another side effect of liposuction could be nausea or vomiting. Especially for 1 to 2 days afterwards. This may be caused by the pain, or the drugs you’ve been given. Drink plenty of water. Always. If it’s still happening, you could try a sport’s drink, but don’t have fizzy drinks and juices. And don’t lie flat when you’ve eaten, instead let your food settle while you’re seated with your head raised.
Burns & infections
We see all sorts of results, especially from clients who had surgery abroad. UK clinics in our experience seem to have a much lower infection rate, but it still happens. Make sure you take your antibiotics as advised, set your alarm and wake in the night to take your tablets. It’s important to your healing, and also your end results as infection can impede the finish you get on your skin.
When your skin has been cut, it will be red and painful and may even ooze some fluid as we discussed above. But a few days post surgery this should stop. So at this point, if this continues, you may have an infection. Look out for:
*Redness that is getting worse rather than improving. It may get bigger, becoming more painful over time and feeling more hot to the touch. It may also feel harder.
*The discharge will probably be yellow or green
*Your wound may have an odour to it
*You develop a fever
This is usually around your wound, but in rare occasions it may be elsewhere on your body. Burns are rare and we have seen none as yet in ten years of working with clients who have had liposuction surgery. But it may still happen.
If you feel you are getting an infection or blisters contact your clinic urgently. If you had your surgery abroad, you should seek your closest medical advice.
They don’t fit everyone with a drain, but if you have then usually it’s best if you don’t bath or swim until the wounds have dried and healed. It’s usually around 2 weeks post treatment. You’ll usually be given a cream to apply to the area after approx 2 to 3 weeks. This will soften the area and reduce scars forming in the longer term and speed up the time you take to heal.
A month or so after lipo, you may experience some irregularities with your menstrual cycle. Thi can range from early or late start and is just the result of the trauma your body is dealing with and so does not keep your cycle on point as well as putting in all the energy to healing.
For around 48 hours post surgery you may find you are hotter than normal by a few degrees. This is normal, but when this is accompanied by the signs of infection listed above, you need to contact your clinic urgently.
There’s no way to tell in advance how much swelling you’ll experience in the weeks and months after your surgery. And the same with applies to the duration. If excessive swelling continues for several weeks, this can then start to interfere with the cosmetic results you’re seeking. This is where the specialist liposuction post op care lymphatic drainage massage (MLD treatment) comes in.
You can expect the swelling to increase continually for up to around six days post surgery, and after this it will subside slowly. Surgeons will advise you on how many MLD sessions they think you need based on what they know your body has undergone during surgery. Usually it’s anywhere between 3 and 12. Six is more normal followed by some deep tissue massage work. If you’ve had hi or mid definition vaser then you’ll need more regular lymphatic drainage sessions and your surgeon can keep a check on this in your follow up sessions.
Also, whilst it may feel natural to hunch over, don’t do it. Sit upright. And don’t sit for any longer than twenty to thirty minutes at a time. You need to stand and stretch between being seated because when you sit you cut off the lymphatic flow which then means you’re more at risk from fluid pooling around the lymphatic nodes which drain in the groin area.
Your results will vary based on your body’s ability to heal, for your skin to tighten (radiofrequency can help) and whether you’ve had manual lymphatic drainage massage as part of your liposuction post op care. However, you’ll notice that within around six weeks you’ll be seeing some difference. This won’t be the end result though, that will only come around five to six months after your surgery. If at this point your skin is still loose, then look at radiofrequency skin tightening to assist your body in producing more collagen to reduce skin laxity.
Asprin & Ibuprofen
Asprin and ibuprofen are anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS — non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). This sounds like a great plan when you’re swollen, but if you take them within 3 days of surgery, you can do yourself more harm than good as they can promote bleeding by impairing the function of your white blood cells. These are the cells that fight infection. You’re always better to have a manual lymphatic drainage massage a day or so after your operation to help your swelling instead.
Don’t be alarmed, you have had an invasive operation with vaser liposuction and so it’s likely you’ll bruise. The amount depends on your surgery type and your natural tendency to bruise. To minimise how much bruising you get, arnica tablets are a good option. There is lotion too, but we prefer the tablets because this limits how much you need to touch an already tender area.
Seromas & Haematomas
There are some rare occasions where you get a buildup of inflammatory fluid that then gets trapped and causes a swelling under your skin which results in a soft palpable lump. This is something we see more when people haven’t followed their liposuction post-op care routine properly and usually this will mean they haven’t had enough, or MLD massages frequently enough. Although this is not always the case. Sometimes we can help with massage, but more often you may need them draining by your surgeon or nurse. The sooner you deal with these the better so don’t hang around.
Part of the normal healing process often means that your skin becomes itchy a few days after your surgery. Antihistamines such as Benadryl may help. You just need to follow the packet instructions if you decide to take these. But beware, you may end up being drowsy. Another alternative is oatmeal soap, but don’t soak in this until 7 days post-op and check with your surgeon at your follow up consultation.
Stitches, drains & steristrips
You may need an open corrugated drain stitched into your lower abdomen sometimes. This helps your body drain out all the excess fluid for the first 2 or 3 days after which your surgeon will remove them. Just be careful to keep these clean with saline spray a few times a day and then recovering with a sterile dressing.
Your stitches/ sutures will need removing. This is usually around five to seven days post operation. There are certain types of surgery that don’t require stitches and you’ll often just then have steristrips. It’s important to keep these dry and then remove them after around five or six days but your surgeon or nurse will advise you on this after you’ve had your operation.
DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) & PE (Pumonary Embolism)
We haven’t seen this happen, but in theory it could. If you have compression stockings from your doctor then wear them. It’s usually a day or so until you can walk properly, but always follow your surgeons liposuction post op care advice. To fly, they’ll usually say not to fly long haul for a few weeks following your liposuction and short haul, ideally around 3 or 4 days post surgery. But always check with your surgeon. And follow the DVT exercises widely available online whilst flying or ask an air steward for advice.
Numbness can last anything up to a few months after vaser liposuction. This is because the surgery damages the nerves in the area which affects the nerve conduction. During this time be wary of applying any excessively hot or cold compresses to the area because you’re not going to feel the burn.
This all sounds a little scary and may be offputting. It’s important to note that these are things you should consider but they are the worst-case scenario. Do think about the potential consequences of unnecessary surgery on your health before you book in for surgery and if you would like our advice on surgeons in London who we have seen the best results from, then we’re always happy to provide these for you.
Whilst much of the information in this document is more linked to your surgery itself; our clients ask us these questions all the time as some clinics are better than others at assisting their patients with aftercare and what to expect generally post surgery. So, we thought it would be a good idea to make this widely available for our clients. We’re not trying to be your doctor here, and we’re not pertaining to be the font of all knowledge, we’re your aftercare specialists and you should always direct your surgical questions to your doctor who will know the situation specific to your individual case.