How Do I Reduce Swelling After Liposuction Surgery?

Written by Virginia Surgical Arts on .
How Do I Reduce Swelling After Liposuction Surgery?
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Are you considering liposuction surgery but are afraid to take the step due to the potential pain and aftermath of the procedure? Obesity is an epidemic in the U.S., and a growing number of people across the nation are considering liposuction for additional weight loss and to get rid of stubborn excess fat deposits that they cannot lose from diet and exercise alone.

The truth is that the swelling, bloating, and aftermath of the procedure are controllable. Learn what you need to know about the healing process after a liposuction procedure, and how you can control and reduce the duration and severity of liposuction recovery.

How Long Does It Take for Swelling to Go Down After Liposuction?

After liposuction surgery, it normally takes three to four weeks for swelling to disappear. Every patient is different, however, and has their own experience. In some rare cases, swelling can continue for months. Liposuction is a surgical procedure and does carry recovery time. Following your doctor’s post-op instructions will usually help to minimize your downtime and improve your final results.

The Smartlipo® system can sometimes reduce the aftermath effects and recovery time of the procedure. This system is the leader in laser lipolysis and uses very small incisions to deliver thermal energy directly to the targeted fat cells. This disrupts the fatty tissue and allows the fat to be drawn out easily. The tissue is then tightened around the area through coagulation, which gives a smoother result.

The advantages of Smartlipo® include customizable wavelengths for maximum control over the delivery of energy, improved tissue retraction through soft tissue coagulation, reduced liposuction procedure time, improved healing time, less downtime during the recovery process, less bleeding, and less bruising than traditional liposuction procedures.

After the Smartlipo® system treatment, side effects still include some bruising and swelling. This is normal. Your surgeon will require you to wear a compression garment. This will support the area of treatment and help you heal. Most patients can resume their normal daily activities within one to two days.

Virginia Surgical Arts can provide more information about how Smartlipo® can help with downtime and recovery from lipo procedures. Use our online contact form or call 757-430-7690 to speak with a member of our team today.

When Does Lipo Swelling Peak?

Swelling from lipo normally peaks during the first 72 hours after surgery. After this, it will normally remain at peak levels for a few days. You may even feel like your clothes are tighter, and you have gained weight. This is normal, and as the swelling goes down, you will begin to see significant body contouring taking place.

What Is the Most Common Cause of Lipo Swelling During the Recovery Process?

Normal swelling after liposuction surgery is due to fluid retention in your body. As this fluid buildup drains, the body starts to take on its new contour. The process usually takes around 30 days. In some cases with severe swelling, lymphatic drainage massages may help with getting rid of the excess fluids. Your cosmetic surgeon will advise you if this post-surgery treatment is necessary.

What Is the Fastest Way to Reduce Swelling After Liposuction?

Thus far, no one method of reducing swelling has proved to be faster than any other. For the most part, cosmetic surgeons recommend a compression garment as the best place to start. You will likely need to wear your garment for a few weeks following your procedure. In the end, however, the passage of time is the best way to reduce swelling.

What Are the Best Ways to Reduce Lipo Swelling?

Doctors recommend several best practices to help keep swelling down after your liposuction procedure. These include wearing your compression garment, using ice packs in affected areas, staying hydrated, and in some cases, massages. Let’s break down how each option can help you after your procedure.

Wearing a Compression Garment

A compression garment offers support for your body to allow it to heal. It helps to keep the fluid buildup to a minimum and aids the body in reabsorbing the fluid. This, in turn, decreases swelling and helps you see the results of the procedure. The best results come from compression garments that reach both above and below the treated area. Avoid basic shapewear and stick to the actual medical garment recommended by your doctor. Shapewear does not offer the level of compression required to improve healing.

Using Ice Packs on Affected Areas

Cold compresses and ice packs are a proven method for bringing down swelling and bruising. Cold-based treatments for about 15 to 20 minutes every hour are shown to help reduce swelling, especially after the first day of surgery. Be sure, however, to get instructions from your doctor regarding the correct methods to use, how to apply the compress, and how long to use it. As with many home remedies, cold compresses done wrong can actually hurt more than they help.

Hydrating With Water

Hydration is a good idea regardless of whether you have had surgery. What is important to remember after liposuction, however, is to hydrate with water. Do not use sports drinks. Sports drinks, even though they may contain electrolytes, also tend to be high in sodium. They are designed to replenish fluids lost from sweat when salt levels are low.

In the case of surgical aftermath, however, such drinks will cause you to retain fluids, which will actually increase your swelling problems. Stick to drinking plenty of water. Nothing hydrates like water; after all, “hydro,” meaning “water,” is right there in the term. Drink eight glasses per day, and it will speed up your recovery process.

Water bottle next to an ice pack


Lymphatic drainage massages are proven to aid in the reduction of swelling. Most trained massage therapists can help improve blood flow and mobilize excess fluid that causes swelling and help the body to reabsorb it properly. Many cosmetic surgeons will advise massage treatments from licensed therapists. Self-massage is not generally recommended, but if professional treatments are too expensive, your licensed therapist may be able to show you some basic self-massage techniques you can do at home between professional sessions.

How Do I Minimize Bruising After Lipo?

The best way to minimize bruising is to avoid alcohol, aspirin, fish oil, ibuprofen, and vitamin E for a week before your surgery. Between three and five days before the procedure and for a week after the procedure, bromelain and arnica tablets may help, but ask your doctor about these supplements before beginning any course. After the procedure, ice packs and cold compresses for 20 minutes on and off for the first three days can also help.

What Happens If You Do Not Try to Reduce the Swelling of Lipo?

For most people, not taking the time and effort to reduce swelling after liposuction cosmetic surgery simply means that the swelling will take longer to resolve. For some, however, the swelling may be indicative of a greater problem. If you do take measures to reduce swelling and it still persists, you may have issues such as tissue trauma or kidney malfunction that require additional medical attention.

Tissue Trauma

Tissue trauma can result from ill-fitting compression garments, or from patients removing the garment and putting it back on repeatedly. Such issues can result in severe fluid collection in the liposuctioned region. Serious damage to the lymphatic system can also result in tissue trauma. Such localized collections are usually detectable by the end of the first week after surgery. In most cases, additional padding within the compression garment can help to resolve the situation within another week to 10 days.

Kidney Malfunction

Often, persistent edema (swelling) can be related to kidney malfunction. If a patient has such malfunction before surgery, they should not have surgery. In cases where it is suspected after surgery, the appropriate measures will need to be taken to correct the condition. Your doctor will need to diagnose the reason for your kidney problems and determine a course of treatment. Kidney malfunctions are serious and should not be taken lightly.

If you have severe persistent swelling after your surgery, it is important to let your doctor know. They can determine the right course of action to rule out potentially serious health conditions and make a plan to treat any conditions you may have to keep them from getting worse.

After Liposuction: What You Should Know

Liposuction is an outpatient procedure, but it is still a form of cosmetic surgery. It will require downtime from your regular routine. Immediately following the procedure, you should have someone stay with you. You may need to take time off from work depending on your job. You will have to pause strenuous activity for at least a month after your procedure. Besides your compression garment, your doctor may advise or prescribe medications such as anti-inflammatory and pain medications.

Be sure to keep your incision area clean. Swap your drainage pads and bandages frequently and apply antibiotic ointment as instructed by your doctor. This will prevent infection, which can result in a more serious illness.

The good news, however, is that Smartlipo® may offer greatly reduced recovery time. Because it uses micro-incisions and targeted thermal energy to melt fat away and gently extract it with suction, the swelling and side effects tend to be less severe than with traditional cosmetic surgery. Wound healing may take less time, and the swelling may go down faster, under normal conditions.

Why Is a Post-Op Appointment Important?

Anytime you have a surgical procedure, it is vital that you meet with your surgeon for a follow-up. Many people think that because lipo is an outpatient procedure, they can simply go about their normal business. In truth, any surgery is traumatic to your body, and just because you can go home afterward does not mean you will have no recovery care.

Failure to keep up with your post-operative appointments can put you at risk of complications. You chose liposuction to make yourself look and feel better. If you do not follow up with your post-operative care, you could experience infections, blood clots, and other complications that could even put your life at risk. It is imperative to follow through with this process.

What the Post-Operative Process Looks Like

The post-operative process will consist of several visits to your doctor over a period of about three months after your surgery. The first post-op visit often occurs the very next day, with follow-ups after a week, a few weeks, and a few months later.

Woman wearing a hospital gown smiling while holding a doctors hand

The Day After Surgery

Usually, you will meet with your doctor again the day after your surgery. At that time, the doctor will check the treated areas to look for issues such as unusual bleeding, blood clots, and other risk factors. They will also ask how you are feeling on a scale of 1 to 10. Most times, pain after this procedure is quite manageable with over-the-counter medication and cold compresses. If you need additional pain management, the doctor may prescribe stronger pain medication, though strong prescription meds are not normally needed.

One Week After Surgery

About a week after surgery, you will return to have any stitches removed. The doctor will once again check the areas treated to be sure that there is no hardened tissue from the healing process. If hardened tissue is present, the doctor will treat it at that time.

Two to Three Weeks After Surgery

By two to three weeks after surgery, you should start to see the bruising fade, and your tissue texture will return to normal. You will also start to see body contouring results.

The Final Post-Operative Visit

Your final post-operative appointment will occur about three months after surgery. At this time, your surgeon will give you one last checkup to ensure that everything has healed as expected. The staff may also take an “after” photo to compare with your “before” photo so you can see the change for yourself. For most patients, this is a big moment.

What Lifestyle Changes Will I Need to Make?

Liposuction is not a magical, permanent fix for weight problems. It can remove fat deposits that are hard to eliminate, but you will still need to live a healthy lifestyle to maintain your new body contour. Reduce stress and stay active with a regular exercise regimen. Stay hydrated and eat a healthy diet with plenty of lean proteins, fruits and veggies, and whole grains. Limit simple carbohydrates, sugars, and saturated fats in your diet.

An Easier and Faster Road to Recovery With Virginia Surgical Arts

Smartlipo® has helped many of our Virginia Beach clients treat fat deposits all over their body, including their abdomen, thighs, hips, arms, buttocks, neck, back, and other areas. It is an effective treatment for fat reduction that is minimally invasive and requires only local anesthesia with a short recovery time. Most patients encounter only light bruising, with a return to normal activity in a few days.

The Smartlipo® system has over 10 years of clinical success and over 45 clinical studies to support its results. Its delivery system makes use of the most advanced technology to provide feedback and measure motion to deliver precise levels of laser energy that target only the areas of fat to be removed.

The system works for smaller or larger fat deposits using specific wavelengths of energy. Its performance is driven by scientific data that is clinical and evidence-based. Smartlipo® is a safe and reliable alternative to traditional cosmetic surgery that can reduce your downtime and lessen the aftereffects of the procedure.

Virginia Surgical Arts, led by board-certified cosmetic surgeon Dr. Sergio Vendetti, serves the entire Hampton Roads region with liposuction, facial and body rejuvenation, augmentation, facelifts, tummy tucks, and many other cosmetic surgery, health, and wellness procedures. Our facility is focused on comfort and accessibility, with a welcoming environment where you’ll feel safe and cared for from the moment you walk through our doors.

We are here to make you look and feel like your best self. Whether you’re looking for a tummy tuck, liposuction procedures, body augmentation, injectables, or one of our current specials, we are ready to consult with you. Give us a call today at 757-430-7690 or use our online contact form to book an appointment with our health and wellness team.

Written By Virginia Surgical Arts