The Answer to Your ‘Recovery after Liposuction”Search

I’m happy to say that I can answer that Google query.

Liposuction comes in all “shapes and sizes”. And “places”. And all of these factors have an influence on the recovery. Essentially, the magnitude/aggressiveness of the liposuction procedure, and the locations, are the determining factors to how much postoperative discomfort you will likely have.

Liposuction involves making a small incision in your skin, and inserting a hollow metal tube (a cannula) that is attached to a suction device. The fat is removed by sucking it out through the end of the cannula, like a smoothie through a straw. This seems like a pretty simple concept now, but was nothing short of revolutionary in the ‘70’s and 80’s with the work of Giorgio Fisher and Yves-Gerard.

So, we have the metal tube. And that metal tube is pushed and pulled hundreds of times in the areas of the fat to be removed. Deep to that fat is typically muscle or bone, and on top of that fat is typically skin. Both the covering of the deeper tissues (of the muscle and bone) and the skin itself can have a richer nerve supply than the area in between where the fat is. So, if you have a lot of fat, and only do a “light” liposuction where the cannula doesn’t rub across the deeper tissue or the skin, there probably won’t be as much discomfort. But, if you don’t have much fat to begin with, or have a very “aggressive” liposuction procedure performed, the cannula will rub against the deeper tissue and skin much more frequently causing more discomfort.

A “light” liposuction procedure, done under local anesthesia only, can feel like a day at the spa. Well, not exactly, but it feels much more like a day at the spa than an aggressive liposuction procedure done under general anesthesia where you feel like a freight train hit you (but just wait for the discomfort to fade away and look at the results – you’ll likely say it was worth it!).

In terms of location, there is no hard and fast rule. In general, in my experience, I have found that the “closer to the ground you go” the more discomfort you have. This probably has to do with the amount of postoperative swelling, but I cannot say for certain. The exception to this is the lower back, which when treated aggressively to give a superb contour, and a bit of a buttocks lift, can be rather uncomfortable for several days.

Of course, your physician will prescribe pain medications appropriate to the level of expected discomfort and make adjustments as necessary. I want to deliver two things: a great surgical result and a great experience. If I only gave you a great surgical result, but the experience was not so pleasant, than I didn’t accomplish my goals. You will have discomfort afterwards, but I will work with you to make sure it’s tolerable and keep you smiling.

Depending on the location, there may be drains recommended, compression garments which can be cumbersome, and activity restrictions. I would be happy to talk to you more specifically about your concerns during a consultation, and come up with a great plan to get you ready for next summer!