Swelling after Liposuction

Liposuction can be done on various body parts, which includes the stomach or abdominal area, hips area, neck, breasts, buttocks, arms, thighs, calves, face, or back. You also have the option of getting liposuction done on more than one area at the same time.

Liposuction can be performed on people of all ages, but older patients do not receive the same result, as their skin elasticity is less than a younger person who has tighter skin. It is also a big risk for those who have medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease, poor blood circulation, diabetes or who have had surgery recently. Patients with a tendency toward venous insufficiency or other venous disorders will need extra care for liposuction in the lower body.

Side effects such as bruising, burns, misshapen areas and swelling after liposuction such as facial edema can happen. After effects can include a lumpy appearance, skin loss and other unwanted effects that may require secondary reparative surgery. Temporary numbness in the surgical area and scarring are also common risks of liposuction. Other more serious complications may include:

  • Fluid imbalance which can result in surgical shock, heart problems, or kidney problems.
  • Embolism which may cause permanent disability. Signs of pulmonary embolism are shortness of breath or difficulty of breathing.
  • Drug reactions or overdose from lidocaine or other drugs used in liposuction. The effects of lidocaine are lightheadedness, restlessness, drowsiness, slurred speech, muscle twitching, and convulsions. Overdose of this drug may cause the heart to stop which is naturally fatal.
  • Visceral perforations or puncture wounds in the organs may require another surgery and can be fatal.
  • Skin death (skin necrosis) occurs when skin changes color and fall off. This may also cause infection.
  • Paresthesias is an altered sensation at the site of liposuction.
  • Death

Since this site is all about water retention / edema / swelling, we will focus the rest of this article on swelling after liposuction or liposuction edema and liposuction recovery from swelling.

Often, numbness, edema and irregularities on the surface are normal consequence of surgery. They are natural body response to the cells that get inflamed during the liposuction process. Liposuction is a traumatic procedure for the lymphatic system - a network of lymph nodes and vessels secreting body fluid - especially the lymphatic tissues - the tiny vessels that remove fluid from the body. These vessels need to renew themselves to function properly. This is why liposuction recovery from edema / swelling often takes a long time.

Major swelling may last for a month or two. The minor swelling can remain for several months after that. The irregularities, numbness and swelling after liposuction may take approximately six to nine months to subside completely.

How long and how bad the swelling goes will depend on many factors such as the location of liposuction, medical background, patient’s own pace of healing, genetic and fatty-tissue type.

  • Patient who has had liposuction in the same area of treatment before will be more prone to swell.
  • If the patient's bodily tissues are more prone to trauma, special chemicals may be released from those tissues as a response. This will cause water retention from blood and lymph vessels and lead to swelling after liposuction.
  • Not wearing a good and appropriate liposuction garment for the right amount of time is another cause of swelling after liposuction. Liposuction garment helps to collapse flatter the tunnels that are left behind during the liposuction process effectively. The tunnels can be the source of liposuction edema.
  • Patients with more fibrous fats will tend to swell more. Common fibrous fatty areas include love handles, the breasts in men and the lower back.
  • Residual blood tinged anesthetic solution that remains trapped under the skin may cause inflammation. Inflammation causes liposuction edema and pain.
  • Being an African Americans or persons of Mediterranean often increase the risk of swelling after liposuction.
  • If the swelling is moving, you may have seroma formation – a post-operative fluid that collect under the skin following liposuction - which need to be drained.

Liposuction recovery

After liposuction, and the surgery has been completed, the patient will have to rest, an elastic garment will be placed around the place that the liposuction procedure has been performed on, and there is a high probability that the doctors will prescribe some pain killers as well as antibiotics to significantly reduce the risk of infection. The patient will be asked to refrain from effort making activates for a few months, and will have to mainly rest for the first few days, it is not uncommon that patients who had liposuction suffer considerable pain and anyone thinking about having liposuction should know that, while pills can reduce the pain it will not eliminate it completely.

Liposuction recovery from swelling / edema
Special compression garments must be worn for two to three weeks to reduce swelling, bleeding, and to help contour the new body. The patient starts to feel better after a week or two after liposuction.

Walking is recommended after liposuction to prevent blood clots forming in the legs.

Because of the swelling, the suctioned area will appear larger than before. Ice packs can be helpful with both swelling and discomfort. Finally, time, regular exercise and gentle massage generally helps to resolve many post-operative issues.

If you have specific concerns about edema / swelling after liposuction, liposuction recovery or other issues you should discuss them with your surgeon at your next visit.