Compared to other body contouring surgeries, liposuction results in a rather straightforward recovery that most patients can return to “quiet” work within two to five days. This has become possible due to the introduction of tumescent technique in which only local anesthesia is used.
In the past, liposuction surgery always required the use of general anesthesia, leading to prolonged recovery. Patients were also exposed to high surgical trauma because the fatty areas were not injected with tumescent fluids that could make them swell, paving way for gentler extraction.
While today’s liposuction recovery is quick and less painful compared with previous techniques, the downtime still depends on the treated area, the patient’s nature of work, and their pain threshold.
Patients whose job is physically demanding may have to wait two to three weeks postop before they return to work. The idea is to avoid increased heart rate and blood pressure, which are tied to persistent swelling, late-onset bleeding, and other factors that might compromise their recovery.
Also, patients planning to undergo large-volume liposuction with multiple areas treated are advised to take a little more time off.
Although many patients are able to return to their work within a couple of days, leading Orange County plastic surgery expert Dr. Tarick Smaili says it makes sense to do just part time or reduce their work load to avoid “feeling wipe out at the end of the day” since it takes a while to regain their preoperative energy level.
Dr. Smaili also says that patients who try their best to stay relaxed tend to recover faster than those who constantly expose themselves to stress.
Meanwhile, the amount of pain in the first few days postop is manageable for most patients that mild painkillers are usually enough. The use of compression garments is also believed to provide some level of comfort by supporting the recovering tissue.
Compression garments can also help skin adherence, leading to smoother results.
Unless liposuction involves the face, swelling and bruising—which can take four to six weeks to dissipate—can be easily hidden under normal clothing.
While most patients are advised to avoid strenuous activities for a minimum of three weeks, during the initial healing stage it remains important that they perform light exercise such as walking to prevent weight gain, persistent swelling, and deep vein thrombosis in which blood clots form in legs.