Liposuction: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

After liposuction, the area will be wrapped to help reduce swelling, bruising, and pain. The wrap helps make the area a smooth shape and prevent blood from filling the area where fat was removed. Elastic bandages and tape, support hose, a special girdle, or another type of firm-fitting clothing may be used. You may have to keep this wrap on for 3 to 4 weeks. If fat was removed from your calves or ankles, you may need to wear support hose for about 6 weeks.

Fluid may drain from the cuts (incisions) for several days. The fluid will be bloody at first, but will turn clear in a few days.

The area will probably be bruised and swollen for at least 10 to 14 days.

You will be able to return to your normal activities as soon as you feel comfortable. This may take several days to a few weeks. Most people can return to light work within a few days. It may take longer to get back to normal if a lot of fat was removed.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • You will probably be able to return to work within a few days.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it is okay. This may be in 2 to 3 weeks.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.

Incision care

  • If you have strips of tape on the cuts (incisions) the doctor made, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off. Or follow your doctor's instructions for removing the tape.
  • If you have stitches or staples, your doctor will tell you when to come in to have them removed.

Hygiene issues

  • You may shower 24 to 48 hours after surgery, if your doctor okays it. You may remove the compression wraps when you shower. Pat the cuts (incisions) dry.
  • Do not take a bath for the first 2 weeks, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have symptoms of a blood clot in your lung (called a pulmonary embolism). These may include:
    • Sudden chest pain.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Coughing up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have shortness of breath.
  • You have new or worse swelling in the area.
  • You have new belly pain.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • You have signs of a blood clot, such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: February 5, 2016