Recovery After Liposuction

First day instructions

  • Send Dr. Yates photos and any questions
  • Get up and walk
  • A fair amount of incisional bleeding and drainage is normal.
  • Bruising and swelling are normal and will last for weeks
  • GARMENT – You will wear the provided garment for three weeks
  • GARMENT – The purpose of the garment is to provide firm but comfortable compression to the treated area.  
  • You can take the garment off to shower. 
  • GARMENT – As you remove the garment to shower, verify that there are no deep creases or irregularities in the skin caused by folds in the garment
  • GARMENT – When replacing the garment make sure it is smooth on the skin surface
  • FOAM – Sometimes Dr. Yates will apply a foam dressing under the garment.   This should be worn for approximately one week
  • FOAM – Foam is helpful to provide smooth compression to the area and minimize the effect of garment creases or folds
  • FOAM – Purchase additional foam as desired
  • AB Board – For patients who find they are seeing skin “creasing” when flexing at the waist an Ab Board placed above foam can reduce flexion
  • Get off the pain medications as soon as possible
  • Take antibiotics as prescribed
  • Take stool softeners if you are taking any narcotics
  • Take the single dose of Gabapentin if prescribed
  • Stay hydrated
  • Stay active, minimal bed rest is better for a safe and quick recovery
  • Your next visit is at three weeks.   In-person or online.
  • MASSAGE of the surgical areas to promote drainage of fluid can start as soon as the first day if comfortable


  • Massage after liposuction can help decrease swelling.  Whether this results in an improved final result is controversial and somewhat dependent on the specifics of the liposuction procedure
  • Massage can begin as early as the first day after liposuction as tolerated
  • The goals of massage are to help to drain swelling and fluid as well as promote healthy lymphatic drainage
  • For most of Dr. Yates career, he hasn’t strongly recommended massage after liposuction.  Since we started using VASER liposuction we have seen an increased need for massage and particularly recommend massage for our VASER liposuction patients.   VASER liposuction uses ultrasound energy to liquify fat prior to removal.   The theory is that some of this emulsified fat can “clog up” the lymphatic drainage system and contribute to swelling
  • Massage is ideally performed under the direction of a massage therapist (preferably one trained in lymphatic massage).   This can be started immediately and a typical protocol would be 2-3 x per week for 2 – 3 weeks.  
  • For a number of reasons, such as convenience or availability, some patients prefer to do this massage themselves

Professional massage


  • This can be started as soon as the day after surgery, preferably within the first week
  • The technique of massage after liposuction is quite different than a deep muscle massage and best performed by someone with an understanding of lymphatic massage.   Here are a few local lymphatic massage therapists and their contact information.  If you know of a qualified lymphatic massage therapist we should add to the list in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, or Nevada please let us know.  I have been told that at some Massage Envy locations, they have therapists who understand lymphatic massage and for our out of town patients, it is worth a call.
    • Marty Tracy – Ogden, Utah.  (801) 528-5066
    • Maxine Kite – Layton, Utah. (801) 499-6344
    • Sherri Williams – Salt Lake City, Utah. (801) 987-8786

Self-directed massage

  • Massage can begin as early as the first day after liposuction as tolerated
  • The goals of massage are to help to drain swelling and fluid as well as promote healthy lymphatic drainage
  • To encourage drainage of the fluid press the palm of the hand on the treatment area and slide with gentle pressure towards the incisions.   Lying on an absorptive pad is a good idea for this potentially messy situation. 
  • Possibly even more important than incision drainage is the promotion of healthy lymphatic drainage.  Lymphatic drainage is different than incisional drainage.   Lymphatics are the delicate tubes that drain swelling and fluid from the area back to the circulation.   Lymphatics drain towards lymph nodes, these are mostly concentrated in the groin, axilla and neck.  
    • VERY HELPFUL – review lymphatic massage instructions. This 15-minute video is made by a licensed massage therapist and we’ve found it pretty helpful
    • Step one – open up the lymphatic drainage pathways to the heart
    • Step two – open up lymphatic pathways to the groin and axilla
    • Step three – Move the fluid towards the lymph nodes

One week Instructions

  • There will typically be a peak of swelling by about one week after surgery
  • Areas of swelling may benefit from additional massage or garment position adjustments 
  • If there seems to be more swelling than expected or there are any questions, please send Dr. Yates a message including photos through the app

Three-week instructions

  • Send Dr. Yates photos and any questions
  • You are able to resume physical work and moderate exercise
  • Full exercise at 6 weeks
  • The liposuction areas are still a little swollen but improving
  • Z wave therapy – For areas where the body is creating an excess of swelling we can consider extracorporeal shock wave therapy (Z wave).   
  • You may change to second stage garments at approximately 3 – 6 weeks.   Examples of good second stage garments are Spanx, Flexees, Marena, or M&D.   All can be found online.
  • The goal of the second stage garment is swelling control and comfort.   These can be worn as long as you would like but most patients find little advantage after 6 weeks.
  • If you feel you have been treated with exceptional care, leave a review!
  • Schedule an online or in-person follow-up visit at 3 months.

Three-month instructions

  • You have no limitations.   Check-in with Dr. Yates with photos and any questions


  • You have no limitations.   Check-in with Dr. Yates with photos and any questions
  • Return to the office for postoperative photos
  • Leave a kind review 🙂
  • Share a bikini or similar photo for us to share on our “real patient” photo gallery:)

General Recovery Tips

Preparation for surgery

prepare your house for surgery

1-2 weeks before surgery you should have your childcare, work arrangements, and caretaker lined up.  Depending on the procedure you may have a few recovery items on hand.  Start with an organized, clean house and full pantry.  If you are making meals, simple prep. meals, and disposable dinnerware.  

prepare your body for surgery

The weeks before surgery are a good time to maximize a healthy diet and stay on top of the exercise.  Yoga and heart-healthy exercises are particularly valuable. For almost every procedure stopping smoking 6 weeks before surgery is valuable.  For some it is critical.  Avoid excessive alcohol and marijuana prior to surgery as well. 

Check your medications and supplements

Some medications such as aspirin, fish-oils and some supplements can contribute to bleeding and bruising after surgery.  If you would like to take SinnEcch for bruising you would want to do so before surgery.  The benefit is mild in Dr. Yates’s opinion but some patients swear by it.

Stay away from illness

Avoid getting sick, wash your hands frequently, and avoid contact will people who are ill.

Time off Work and exercise

Check the procedure list below for the time you should plan to take off of work or exercise.  With most procedures, office work and light exercise are OK between one to three weeks.  For most procedures, there are no restrictions after six weeks.      

Recovery Supplies

Dr Yates will give you most everything you need immediately after surgery including garments, bra, scar cream, and dressings as indicated.  A few recommended additional supplies are

  • Bed that reclines, recliner, or extra bed pillows
  • Icy Hot back patch
  • Loose baggy clothes
  • Paper tape 1″
  • Ice packs
  • Stool Softener
  • Ginger Ale
  • Antacid such as Tums
  • Melatonin (not to be used with pain medications)
  • Benadryl
  • Cortisone cream
  • Neosporin
  • Probiotics or yogurt
  • Second stage Spanx or Flexees for appropriate procedures
  • Liposuction Ab board – this is not necessary but some patients prefer it after abdomen liposuction to prevent flexion creases
  • Liposuction foam – lipo foam will often be placed by Dr. Yates under portions of the garment.   Foam is helpful to minimize swelling and bruising in the treated areas and is particularly useful in areas of loose skin such as the abdomen.   Additional foam can be purchased if this becomes soiled or you simply feel you would like more.   
  • Flexible straws for drinking
  • Water bottles/ Gatorade
  • Entertainment such as DVD or Netflix
  • Cell phone charger near bed and sofa

Liposuction Recovery Tips

How long will I be in bed after liposuction?
You should expect no significant bedrest after liposuction.   Get up and walk.
Tell me about pain management after liposuction?
The pain is moderate and usually controlled with Tylenol and Ibuprofen.  If narcotics are necessary they are only for 1-2 days.
What do I do with the incisions after liposuction?
The small liposuction incisions will be covered with gauze while draining.  We prefer to keep most of the incisions “open”, not closing them with sutures.   Open incisions facilitate drainage of swelling.  Once they have stopped draining you may apply Neosporin or simply leave them alone.
When can I shower or swim after liposuction?
You can shower as soon as drainage has slowed significantly.
How long will I need help with childcare after liposuction?
Approximately 3-5 days for toddlers and young children
How long before I can return to the gym after liposuction?
You can return to light lifting with the arms and a good walk in one week.   You may return to moderate upper and lower body lifting by three weeks.  Full exercise resumes at six weeks.
How long before I can return to work after liposuction?
Office and desk work can be resumed right away.  For most physical jobs you can return at 3 weeks.
When can I return to sexual activities after liposuction?
It is safe to resume normal sexual activity by two to three weeks after liposuction.  
What can go wrong if I don’t follow these recommendations?
Overaggressive activity can cause problems with healing.   In the first week, we are worried about excessive swelling and bruising
When will I expect to see my final results?
Swelling peaks at 1-2 weeks and gradually resolves over the year.   Most swelling is gone by 3 months
How long should I expect drainage?
1-3 days
How long do I wear my garment?
The garment is worn for 3-6 weeks followed by a second stage garment for comfort and final swelling control

Get in Touch
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Dr. York Yates
2121 N 1700 W
Layton, UT 84041
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Phone: (801) 525-8741

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2121 N 1700 W, Layton, UT 84041 801.525.8741

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