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 may be a compression garment or elastic bandages. 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.

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.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).

Medicines

 
  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. Your doctor will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • 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

  • You may have bandages under your compression garment. Your doctor will tell you when to remove the bandages and just use the compression garment.
  • You may use light gauze under the compression garment if the cuts are draining a lot.

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 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 now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have shortness of breath.
  • 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.
  • You have continued bleeding that soaks a bandage after holding firm pressure for 10 minutes.

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

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.