Most patients undergoing liposuction are fully recovered and can resume normal daily activities within two weeks. In cases where only a small area of the body requires treatment, patients may be fit to carry on as normal after a few days.
After a liposuction procedure, small tubes or drains are placed within the incision site to drain any excess fluid and blood. This prevents swelling of the operative area and also helps the surgeon check for internal bleeding at the surgical site. The surgical incision is then covered with a compression garment or bandage to help reduce bruising and swelling. Once the sutures are ready to be removed (or dissolved in the case of absorbable sutures), the drains are removed, which usually happens around five to ten days after the operation.
Bruising is common after liposuction, but this usually fades after a few days and swelling usually subsides within six months. However, the area may feel numb for several weeks before normal sensation is recovered.
If patients notice any signs of infection while they are recovering such as pain, swelling or redness, these signs should be reported to their doctor who can provide advice. Patients may be prescribed antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection occurring. People can also take mild painkillers to relieve any post-operative pain or swelling.
The final effects of liposuction are seen within one to six months after surgery. Although liposuction does permanently remove fat cells and can resculpture the body, it should not be viewed as a cure for obesity, as people can easily regain weight after the procedure if they do not exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc