Many patients ask Dr. Donaldson about the typical recovery period after liposuction and how quickly they can expect to see the results of their surgery. It’s important to understand the typical timeline so you know what to expect from this procedure.
Before surgery, patients are advised to stop smoking, optimize nutrition and health status, drink plenty of fluids, and exercise as usual. These basic steps will speed recovery.
During surgery, Dr. Donaldson uses a “tumescent” liposuction technique that involves injection of IV fluid, lidocaine and epinephrine (adrenaline) into the treatment areas. After waiting several minutes, this mixture provides numbness to the nerves and shrinks the tiny blood vessels surrounding the fat so that the liposuction is less traumatic. This method has proven to dramatically reduce post-operative pain, bruising, swelling, dehydration, and consequently the overall recovery.
After surgery, compression garments are recommended. These are custom-fitted, medical-grade elasticized clothing that are worn next to the skin. They provide support to the skin and underlying tissue to ensure a smooth, contoured result and they also help reduce fluid accumulation and swelling. Patients should wear compression garments as much as possible for the first two to four weeks after surgery.
Lymphatic massages and exercise should be discussed in advance with your surgeon. They may be helpful in reducing fluid and opening lymphatic channels later in recovery, but they can be counter-productive during the initial healing phases.
Dr. Donaldson explains to his patients that liposuction results may be witnessed in three stages:
- The day of surgery: This is the most dramatic stage, when fat is physically removed from the body. Contours are immediately thinner, but swelling and bruising set in quickly and obscure the improvements.
- Week #1 through week #6: The body clears itself of bruising and swelling as it carries away loose oils, damaged fat cells and debris that was left behind from surgery. This comes with a pleasant tightening effect.
- Month #1 through month #6: Scar tissue organizes within the fatty layers that were liposuctioned, which causes further “shrink-wrapping” and tightening around the underlying muscle and bone.
Results are typically final after six months, when patients ultimately enjoy less fat and a contoured shape!