How Much Down Time After Liposuction

Liposuction is a popular cosmetic surgery procedure that removes stubborn fat deposits from areas like the abdomen, hips, thighs, arms, back, chin and knees. While the procedure itself may not take long, recovery does require adequate rest and downtime before returning to normal activities. Here’s what to expect regarding downtime after liposuction.

What Happens During a Liposuction Procedure

Tummy Tuck c5 b2During liposuction, small incisions, typically less than a quarter inch, are made as hidden as much as possible near the area being treated. Those incisions are then used to insert a thin tube called a cannula under the skin. The cannula is connected to a vacuum device that suctions out fat deposits through motion and back-and-forth passes under the skin.

Local or general anesthesia, or twilight sedation, is typically used to keep patients comfortable and pain-free during the procedure. The length of the procedure depends on the number of areas being treated but could take 1-3 hours depending on the extent of recommended areas.

After surgery, patients wear compression garments on the treated areas for 4-6 weeks to facilitate proper healing. The garments help minimize swelling and inflammation while allowing the skin to retract. Medications are prescribed for pain management during the first few days of recovery if needed.

Recovery Timeframe: What to Expect

While recovery times vary per patient, the below gives a general liposuction downtime timeline and what to expect during healing:

  • Days 1-3 Post-Op: The first 1-3 days following surgery focus on rest while managing any discomfort. Doctors recommend taking short walks around the house every few hours to prevent blood clots. Typical activity is restricted aside from carefully getting up, stretching legs, and very brief walking.
  • First Week of Recovery: The first 3-5 days bring the most swelling, inflammation and tenderness from surgical trauma. Bruising is common the first 5-10 days as tissue continues healing. Follow-up appointments happen 5-10 days later to assess incisions, change dressings, and remove any temporary drainage tubes. Low-impact activity can gradually return like 20-30 minute walks.
  • Weeks 2-4 After Surgery: Ongoing bruising, swelling and soreness continue improving between weeks 2-4
  • Month Mark: Nearing the 4 week mark, residual swelling continues to resolve and subside. Discomfort gives way to numbness over the healing tissues and incision sites. Doctor follow-ups assess ongoing healing. Around this time, regular fitness routines can slowly restart focusing on light weights, resistance bands, and lower intensity cardio. Compression garments should be consistently worn during physical activity for up to 2 months.

Longer Term Healing Expectations

Full healing takes approximately 6 months as swelling resolves, inflammation calms and skin retraction completes over the treated areas. Massage and ultrasound therapy can help facilitate healing from 1 month and beyond. While most recovery happens within the first month, it takes additional time for hidden internal swelling to fully subside and for skin to tighten over the treated areas. The final results emerge around the 6 month mark although most patients are back to normal activity long before.

Frequently Asked Questions About Recovery

Many patients recovering from liposuction have common questions about the timeline and expectations during the healing process. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about recuperating after liposuction:

How long does it take to recover from liposuction?

Typical functional recovery is within 1 week or less for most patients to return to work, family obligations and more. Full healing takes approximately 6 months for residual swelling and inflammation to resolve completely.

When can I go back to work after liposuction?

With less strenuous jobs, around 3 days of downtime is needed before returning to work,

More strenuous jobs requiring heavy lifting may need 1 week off from work.

What’s the timeline for resuming exercise after my procedure?

Light walking can start shortly after surgery with doctor approval, even 10-15 minute walks 2-3x a day within the first week promote healing. More strenuous training shouldn’t resume until at least 1-2 weeks post-op depending on the liposuction extent and your surgeon’s specific recommendations. 

How long do I need to wear compression garments after liposuction?

Compression garments should be worn around the clock for at least 4-6 weeks. Then garments are recommended during exercise, workouts and any strenuous activity for up to 2 months post-op. Consistent compression helps facilitate proper healing. Duration depends on your plastic surgeon’s advice based on areas treated and your recovery progress.

When will I see my final results?

Although most swelling resolves around the 6 week mark, final results fully emerge around the 6 month post-op timeframe once hidden lingering inflammation has faded, skin retraction is complete and all swelling has resolved. Massage therapy can help expedite the final stages of healing.

Learn More About Liposuction

Dr. Raymond Jean and the Main Line Plastic Surgery team have years of surgical experience and provide top tier patient care from consultations through long-term recovery. We offer personalized guidance tailored to your unique cosmetic goals whether it be liposuction, tummy tuck, breast augmentation or more. Call today to schedule your private consultation.

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