How long after liposuction is pain and swelling normal?

How long after liposuction is pain and swelling normal?

26th Nov 2017

Liposuction is an elective cosmetic surgery that creates a slimmer and shapelier body profile by eliminating the persistent deposits of fat from various parts of the body like the abdomen, thighs, arms, to name a few. It considerably improves the contour and proportions of the body, and is a great confidence booster.

There are localized, stubborn fats that are obstinately resistant to exercise or diets. These can only be eliminated with the help of liposuction. Liposuction is not a weight loss method nor is it a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. At the same time, you should also keep in mind that liposuction is not a treatment for cellulite.

Being a surgical intervention, liposuction also comes associated with side effects. Pain and swelling are normal after effects of the intervention and they don’t normally pose any problems. The symptoms will disappear on its own after a few days, weeks or months, length of which varies from patient to patient. After surgery, the surgeon will prescribe pain medications and antibiotics for pain management and to preclude infections.

What are the areas that we can target with liposuction?

The main areas that we can treat with the help of liposuction are:

– Abdomen and waist

– Thighs, hips, and buttocks

– Arms, upper and lower back

– The chest (especially for men)

– Chin

– The interior part of the knees

– The calves and the ankles

Liposuction can sometimes be combined with the tummy tuck or with breast reduction interventions. At the same time, while performing liposuction, the plastic surgeon can also harvest and process the patient’s own fat for reinjection in the face to address wrinkles, or in some cases, for breast augmentation with fat transfer, buttock or calves augmentation.

Only the plastic surgeon can suggest the best treatment options that would address your specific issues. Also, keep in mind that liposuction is not the best option when there is skin laxity and sagginess in the areas targeted for treatment.

Pain after liposuction

Liposuction can be performed under local anesthesia when done on small areas. The safety of the patient is of primary concern when it comes to anesthesia. If liposuction is needed in several parts of the body, the plastic surgeon will most likely recommend that the procedure be staggered. Extracting a large quantity of fat in one sitting can cause multiple complications, and some may even be life threatening. There is no need to worry if you will need to do this procedure more than once as this is a relatively common and simple procedure. Just know that you will have to face the same side effects after each procedure. You can expect the usual and manageable pain and swelling as mentioned earlier. Usually, something as simple as a Tylenol can keep the pain at bay, but before taking any pills after your intervention, make sure to check with your doctor.

Some patients complain about being in terrible pain shortly after the interventions that lasted for months, but we can tell you for sure that the pain subsides as soon as the treated tissues begin to heal. This usually happens within three weeks, even less, in some cases. Do understand that pain tolerance is different from patient to patient. What one patient will describe as mild discomfort; another might call, agonizing.

The pain and swelling happens due to the injury to the lymphatic network when the surgeon dislodges the fat in order to extract it. This is simply a normal part of the procedure and does not mean that the plastic surgeon did something wrong.

Pain and swelling after liposuction quite normal for the first two weeks, but can take as long as three months or more to completely disappear. Unless you find yourself in the position where you are unable to take the pain, there is no need to talk to the plastic surgeon about these occurrences, as they are completely normal and natural. If the swelling and pain does not disappear over the course of three to four months, then you must contact your doctor and tell him what is going on.

Complications after liposuction

The surgical intervention for liposuction is considered a safe procedure, but, just like any intervention, it comes with certain risks and side effects. You need to be aware of them before scheduling the procedure.

The risks and potential complications during and after the procedure includes but not limited to infection, bleeding, fluid accumulation, skin discoloration, skin irregularity and asymmetry, and other changes such as heightened sensitivity or loss of sensation in and around the incision sites.

On top of that, other side effects like skin spots, bruising, swelling and edema at the treated areas can sometimes occur. Again, these are all normal side effects, and they are expected to disappear without any treatment over the following days or weeks after the intervention. Sometimes the edema will persist for a longer period or up to six months.

The scars left after liposuction are very small and most of the times, barely noticeable.

Risks and side effects after liposuction

When a larger quantity of fat is removed during liposuction and the skin suffers loss of elasticity, it is possible that the skin will not be able to retract properly and will be saggy in that area. At the same time, the procedure can offer even less impressive results for women who have cellulite, even if the patient qualified for the intervention. Skin affected by cellulite may not retract perfectly and the skin can look worse than it did before the intervention.

Harvesting large quantities of fat in one sitting can threaten the life of the patient as it can cause imbalance of the fluids in the body. In the past, there was a lot of news coverage about people dying after a liposuction intervention. When analyzing those cases, one can easily see that the incidents happened when excessive liposuction was performed, wherein more than the maximum amount of 5 liters of fats and fluids were extracted in a single procedure.

When the liposuction is performed on a few areas, the recommended quantity of fat to be extracted must be observed and the procedure should be performed by a qualified and board-certified plastic surgeon. If proper protocols are followed and in the hands of a skilled and qualified surgeon, liposuction is considered a simple procedure with very minimal associated risks.


If you have localized fat deposits that are resistant to diets and exercise, liposuction can be the go-to procedure for you. To qualify for this intervention, you must be healthy with a stable weight that is not in excess of more than 30% of your ideal weight. Your skin should be firm and with good elasticity and muscle tone. If you have additional medical issues such as blood coagulation, make sure you let your plastic surgeon know in advance so he can properly prepare prior surgery. As required in most plastic surgery interventions, you must quit smoking before and after the procedure as it will impair healing and put you at risk for complications.

The pain and swelling after liposuction are normal and natural side effects after the intervention and will usually disappear in a few days or weeks after the liposuction. However, there are also cases when it can take up to six months for the swelling to subside. Please keep in mind that pain medication will be prescribed by your plastic surgeon to help you manage the pain and discomfort following surgery.

The intensity of pain after liposuction is different from patient to patient and will depend on the individual’s threshold. While most patients will find it easy to resume their daily activities within hours from the intervention, it can take up to two weeks for others to be able to function at optimal levels.

The swelling after liposuction does not require any additional treatment or medication. Wearing the compression girdle recommended by the surgeon will help reduce the swelling and hasten recovery. In some cases, the plastic surgeon might also suggest massages to help with the swelling after liposuction. Keep in mind that your body needs time to heal and the swelling will disappear if you give it enough time.

The plastic surgeon can help the patient make an informed decision, wherein benefits and risks are carefully and thoroughly considered and weighed.

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