Liposuction is one of the most popular aesthetic surgery procedures performed in the United Sates, consistently ranking in the top five cosmetic procedures performed.
The perfect candidate is someone who has normal skin elasticity, is watching his/her diet, exercises regularly, but has areas of stubborn fat. Of course, most of our patients do not fall into this category, but can still achieve noticeable improvement, depending on skin tone and amount of fat removed.
In almost all cases, liposuction can be performed using local anesthesia, thus reducing cost and increasing safety for the patient.
After liposuction, it is important to wear a compression garment to minimize the amount of swelling. This will allow faster recovery, and proper skin retraction. Remember, after liposuction, there is a “dead space” where the fat used to be, and compression will allow faster elimination of this space. The garment should be snug but not super tight. We recommend buying two different sizes, and exchange as needed as the swelling resolves.
Surprisingly, this procedure is not as painful as imagined. Most patients describe the sensation as soreness, as though the patient has had a very long, heavy workout. Pins and needles feeling, or numbness is also very common and will improve after several weeks to months (depending on the patient’s own healing).
Leakage form incision sites is always present the first 2 days, and the color will be a light to medium red. This is not bleeding and is the residual numbing solution placed at the time of surgery which is draining out. Actual bleeding will show as blood clots and is rare.
The patient may remove the garment in 24 hours and start taking a shower. The garment must be always worn, except when showering. The garment should be worn for 4 weeks.
The first postoperative visit is in one week. There will be swelling and, in some patients, bruising. It is critical to emphasize, the swelling will increase after the first week and may fluctuate with each day. In other words, the swelling may fill up the dead space where the fat was. Sometimes patients contact me within the first three months, concerned that no change is seen in the area of liposuction. This is to be expected. It will take at least 3 months for the result to show. In most cases, six months is required to see the final result.
The next visit is one month after surgery. There will be swelling, and the purpose of this visit is to make sure healing is progressing normally. At this stage, the patient may start exercising the area liposuctioned and the garment can be discontinued.
The final visit (in most cases) will be three months after surgery. In most cases, the result is close to final at this stage. There may be more improvement in the coming months, but it will be subtle.
This is a typical healing scenario for the average liposuction patient. In some cases, the patient may be seen more frequently, and a six-month follow-up may be required.
The photos show typical healing for liposuction of abdomen and flanks (love handles). Please note the improvement in swelling and contour. The incision sites also have improved with time and are less visible.