Recovery After Liposuction

First Day Instructions

  • Dr. Yates will reach out via the Symplast app.  Send Dr. Yates photos and any questions
  • ACTIVITY - Get up and walk
  • EXERCISE - No exercise at all for 3 weeks.   Low impact excercise such as walking and very light weight lifting is OK at THREE weeks.
  • Full Exercise resumes at SIX weeks
  • BLEEDING AND BRUISING - incisional bleeding and drainage is normal
  • Bruising and swelling are normal and will last for weeks to months
  • If we have placed absorptive pads replace them as necessary, particularly when saturated
  • GARMENT - Take the garment off to shower.   BE VERY CAREFUL when removing the garment as we have found this is a common time for patient to faint.   Get up slowly, with assistance and near a bed or a chair
  • 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
  • GARMENT - The first garment will be worn for THREE weeks.   At that time most patients find it comfortable to wear something like Spanx, Flexees, or other stage 2 garments.
  • FOAM - We will sometimes place foam beneath the garment on the lower belly or other areas prone to swelling.   When used, foam should be worn for the first week and can be removed to shower
  • FOAM – Purchase additional foam as desired
  • SHOWER - You may shower 1-2 days after surgery.   Water directly over the incisions if fine
  • SUTURES - All incisional sutures are dissolving and don't need to be removed
  • Your next visit is at three weeks. In-person or via app.
  • 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

Massage

  • 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.

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.
stage 2
  • 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

One-Year

  • 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

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.

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.

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

body board

  • 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.

lipo foam

  • Flexible straws for drinking
  • Water bottles/ Gatorade
  • Entertainment such as DVD or Netflix
  • Cell phone charger near bed and sofa

Liposuction Recovery Tips

You should expect no significant bedrest after liposuction. Get up and walk.

The pain is moderate and usually controlled with Tylenol and Ibuprofen. If narcotics are necessary they are only for 1-2 days.

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.

You can shower as soon as drainage has slowed significantly.

Approximately 3-5 days for toddlers and young children

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.

Office and desk work can be resumed right away. For most physical jobs you can return at 3 weeks.

It is safe to resume normal sexual activity by two to three weeks after liposuction.

Overaggressive activity can cause problems with healing. In the first week, we are worried about excessive swelling and bruising

Swelling peaks at 1-2 weeks and gradually resolves over the year. Most swelling is gone by 3 months.

1-3 days

The garment is worn for 3-6 weeks followed by a second stage garment for comfort and final swelling control.

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Ask us a question, request a private consultation, or submit a pre-visit questionnaire to Dr. Yates.

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