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LIPOSUCTION: A RECOVERY GUIDE

Liposuction is one of the UK’s most popular cosmetic procedures and removes areas of unwanted fat from the body. The three most common methods are tumescent, water jet and laser.

Traditional liposuction is an invasive procedure and should be fully researched before you commit to the surgery. It is crucial to know what to expect before and during the procedure, which you can find out in our liposuction guide via this link.

But how much do you know about what to expect after liposuction? Common questions include:

  • How long does it take to recover from liposuction?
  • How can I speed up liposuction recovery?
  • What are the signs that my liposuction has gone wrong?
  • What can I do if my liposuction has gone wrong?

In this guide, we explore the answers to these liposuction recovery questions and the other key pieces of information that you should know if you are considering or have just undergone the procedure.

1) WHAT HAPPENS 24 HOURS AFTER LIPOSUCTION?

Immediate recovery from liposuction varies according to the size of the area that was treated, the type of surgery you had and your individual circumstances. Many operations are carried out under general anaesthetic, in which case you will need to recover from the effects of the anaesthetic and this sometimes means that you must stay in hospital overnight.

If you are discharged on the same day as the procedure you will need to have a responsible adult with you for the first 24 hours. Be sure to pack loose, comfortable clothing to wear on the journey home.

Your surgeon might prescribe antibiotics for the wound and/or painkillers. It is normal to have tenderness and swelling in the part of the body where you had liposuction immediately afterwards, but if this becomes excessive or you are concerned that it is abnormal then contact a medical professional immediately.

Stitches - if you had them - are typically removed after the first week, unless the surgeon used dissolvable stitches. The NHS states that you should be able to resume contact sports or physical activities at around 4-6 weeks post-surgery.

It could take up to six months for the full effects of the procedure to be revealed, once any swelling and bruising has completely subsided.

2) DO I NEED TO WEAR COMPRESSION GARMENTS?

You will be fitted with compression bandages or elasticated supports for the appropriate areas after your surgery. You will also have dressings to cover the entry points and wounds from surgery.

Compression bandages and compression garments will help to get rid of swelling and bruising. The length of time that you wear these for is dependent on the nature of your procedure; it can be several weeks or months.

You are likely to be given specific garments to wear by your surgeon, so that they target the precise area that they have treated. It is important to wear these and follow instructions from your surgeon, so that the affected areas are properly supported during your recovery.

You can remove these garments and bandages when you shower, but check what guidance your surgeon can offer regarding how soon you should wait before submerging the wound in water. Typically, you should avoid showering or bathing for the first week after your procedure.

3) IS LIPOSUCTION RECOVERY PAINFUL?

It is normal to feel a certain level of pain and tenderness immediately after liposuction. You are likely to have swelling and bruising for up to six months after the procedure.

The level of pain to expect from liposuction will depend on how extensive the surgery was, what body part it focussed on, the size of the area and your own unique circumstances.

Bruising, lumpiness, numbness and discolouration of the skin are all common side effects that can last up to six months after liposuction. If you experience bleeding or signs of infection - such as pus, a temperature, redness, or excessive pain or swelling - contact a medical professional immediately.

If you experience any pain in your chest, it could be a sign of a blood clot and you must seek urgent medical attention.

4) HOW CAN I SPEED UP LIPOSUCTION RECOVERY?

To minimise risks and aid recovery, it is important to get your body moving gently soon after surgery. Your surgeon is likely to encourage you to walk about as soon as possible, to aid blood flow and minimise the risk of clots.

You should aim to keep moving every few hours to ensure fluid is circulating around your body, but take care not to over-exert yourself, as that could hinder your progress.

Eating a healthy and balanced diet will aid recovery and prevent fat from returning. You should drink plenty of water and maintain a healthy weight to give your body the best chance of a speedy recovery.

Be sure to attend regular check-ups with your surgeon after you are discharged. They will ensure that the wound is healing well and that your general health is stable.

Once the first phase of recovery is over and the full results are visible, you should aim to stay fit, avoid fatty and processed foods and keep to a healthy exercise regime, to maintain the results of the procedure and avoid excess fat building up in other areas.

While the above will aid recovery, there is no quick-win way to speed up the process. Over-exertion can do more harm than good, and it is crucial to rest and take care of yourself for the weeks and months following liposuction.

5) WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS FROM LIPOSUCTION?

Recovery from liposuction can be a long and uncomfortable process. A degree of bruising and swelling is normal, but if you are concerned that your pain is becoming excessive or the bruising and swelling is abnormal, then it is important to consult a medical professional as soon as possible.

According to the NHS, possible complications from liposuction include:

  • Lumpy and uneven results
  • Bleeding under the skin (haematoma)
  • Persistent numbness that lasts for months
  • Changes in skin colour in the treated area
  • A build-up of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary oedema) from the fluid injected into the body
  • A blood clot in the lungs (pulmonary embolism)
  • Damage to internal organs during the procedure

Any type of operation also carries a small risk of:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Developing a blood clot in a vein
  • Infection
  • An allergic reaction to the anaesthetic

6) WHAT ARE THE SIGNS THAT MY LIPOSUCTION HAS GONE WRONG?

It can take up to six months for you to see the final results of your procedure, but if after this time these are not what you expected, then you should contact the clinic where you undertook the surgery and discuss this with them in the first instance.

While being unhappy with your results does not necessarily mean that your liposuction was botched or went wrong, the following signs may indicate that something has gone wrong due to medical negligence:

  • Poor body shape or contour deformity
  • A failure to warn you about potential nerve damage or numbness
  • Bumpy and asymmetrical skin after the fat has been removed

7) WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY LIPOSUCTION HAS GONE WRONG?

You may be entitled to claim for liposuction compensation if your surgeon or clinic failed to meet a certain standard. This could result in financial compensation to contribute towards reconstructive surgery and the emotional impact that the case has had on your life. It could also prevent the surgeon or clinic from making similar errors with patients in the future.

For a full guide on what to do next if you believe your liposuction was botched due to negligence on the part of the surgeon or clinic, read our report: Cosmetic Surgery: Knowing your rights if something goes wrong.

Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors can help you to find out whether you are entitled to make a claim. Get in touch with us today to discuss your circumstances by calling freephone on 0808 252 7178, or arrange for us to call you back by using our online contact form.

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