Medical experts stress that it’s essential that every liposuction candidate understand that post-operative side-effects and the amount of time needed for recovery can vary greatly person to person. But, if you’ve done your research and discussed the procedure with your doctor, then you’ll know basically what to expect; and if you’ve made the suggested provisions regarding work and domestic responsibilities, then you’ll be in the best possible position to weather the storm. But make no mistake about it, many describe the first few days after the procedure as feeling like “someone gave you a severe beating.”
Depending on how much liposuction has been performed and to which areas of the body, you can expect to be sore but functional the day after your procedure. Common side-effects include dizziness, nausea, soreness, inflammation, swelling, and mild fever. Doctors routinely prescribe medication for the pain, antibiotics to fight infection, and advise patients to stay away from both aspirin and ibuprofen in favor of Tylenol for fever. While liposuction is generally quite safe for most people, should you experience high fever, headaches, or other signs of infection, you should contact your doctor immediately to avoid complications.
Although some people are able to return to work the day after surgery (depending on the area treated and their type of job), it takes most patients a few days before they feel stable enough to return to a desk job, and even longer for more strenuous jobs–but usually not more than a week. (If you don’t feel strong enough to return to work even after a week, don’t be alarmed–the healing process is different for everyone.) And while most sources suggest that you simply stay in bed the day after your procedure, it’s important to periodically get up and move around by day two to help fend off blood clots in the legs.
Every doctor has his or her own preferred routine and timetable, but in all cases, the supportive compression garments you’ll be supplied will remain in place 24-hours a day for a week or more (in some cases up to 2 or 3 weeks), but are removed routinely starting the second day so that you can shower, apply ointment to the sutures (if prescribed), and apply fresh dressing. Patients sometimes experience a brief sensation of dizziness the first time the compression garments are removed–which is only normal. This can be prevented by removing the outer compression garment 10 minutes before the inner garment. But, be prepared that even by the second day, you may notice swelling and bruising of the effected areas, and most likely drainage. Swelling can last days or even weeks, but depending on whether the incisions are left open or are sutured (some doctors choose to leave incisions open), drainage should stop after a few days.
Because anesthetics, pain medications, and antibiotics tend to cause constipation, it’s important to establish a balanced eating routine by day two, and increase fiber intake if need be. You should also drink plenty of water or fruit juices to prevent dehydration, but avoid alcoholic beverages for 48 hours. If by day two you haven’t had a bowel movement since the day before your surgery, you may want to consider a stood softener (but do consult your doctor first). And if you develop diarrhea, experts urge you to discontinue antibiotics and notify your doctor immediately as it may be a sign of something more serious.
In general terms, by the end of the second day, you should have established a general routine you can follow throughout your liposuction recovery. The key is to have made all the advance preparations possible and then follow your doctor’s post-op instructions as closely as possible.