Looking Fatter After Liposuction?

I had liposuction on my Stomach and 'Love handles' 9 days ago. I'm concerned because of the amount of numbness and lumpiness in my stomach. My stomach also looks bigger, and the jeans I wore before surgery do not fit right now. I am wearing a compression garment and following all the doctors instructions. Is this normal? What should i do? I can still pull a handful of fat from my stomach, and the doctor said he removed 1300 ccs of fat. Please help! Thanks!

Doctor Answers 17

Early swelling after Liposuction. Is it normal?

You are experiencing fluid collection in the area treated and this is 100% normal as lymphatics are temporarily obstructed. It takes months for this to resolve  but each week you will look better.  Avoid salt...Sodium...and restrict to 1500 mg a day or less.  Do not gain weight by calories.  Be patient.  It takes 12 months to heal and that is part of the bargain when a person has elective or any surgery.  By 3 months you will look better.  In fact by 6 weeks you will look better.  Talk to your surgeon. Garments help comfort but in the end  the same result occurs with or without early garments.  I have been doing this for 29 years and 3600 cases and see concerns such as your all of the time. You will be fine.  Good Luck.

Swelling after liposuction

Swelling is indeed common after liposuction.  This swelling comes from both the areas that had surgery, as well as from the body as a whole.  This comes from inflammatory mediators that cause swelling in the entire body, including hands, toes, etc.  It is a normal consqeuence of healing from surgery.  Seroma formation nowadays is very rare indeed now that ultrasound is less commonly performed.  Use of the laser may predispose to longer healing times and seroma formation more so than with wet or superwet techniques.

Postoperative swelling is greater in patients who eat salty foods, exercise too early, live in warm humid climates, etc.

In "modelly type" patients who are thin to begin with, the difference between the before and the after is often not apparent for a longer period of time.  In heavier patients, the differences are usually immediate and profound.

Still, it is a good idea to talk with your surgeon to make sure you are on track.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 119 reviews

Liposuction results take time

It is normal in most cases to have quite a bit of swelling and even some numbness 9 days after abdominal and flank liposuction.  This takes time!  I tell my patients you will see some results at 3-4 weeks, 80% of the result at 4 months, and final results at 6 months.  There are several things you can do in the postoperative period such as limiting your dietary salt intake which helps.  Most surgeons "close" or suture the incisions after liposuction; howver, one thing that I do with my patients is to leave the liposuction incisions "open" at surgery.   They will leak some fluid into absorbant pads for the first 2 days after surgery but I've found that the swelling goes down much faster and these patients can start to see their results even faster.  Finally post-lymphatic massaging is also a very important aspect of recovery and getting swelling to resolve.  I hope this helps!


James F. Boynton, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Post-op liposuction

You are too early post-op at this point. You have to give it 3-4 months minimum to see the results of the procedure.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Bigger AFTER Liposuction?

It is not uncommon to have a moderate amount of swelling after liposuction. That, along with the likelihood that some of the Tumescent fluid (helps with bleeding and pain control) that was infused into the areas in which you had liposuction may remain (although that would only apply for the first 1-3 days after surgery)

Edema, or swelling, can persist for days to weeks after Liposuction, and can worsen with increases in activity. That is why it is important to wear your compressive garment as much as possible in the early postoperative period. 

I have had patients complain that AFTER surgery they can't fit into clothes that they could BEFORE surgery! As the swelling subsides and the skin contracts, those items will once again fit, and hopefully become too big. 

Persistent Swelling Not Uncommon

Patients undergoing tumescent liposuction of the abdomen will often develop swelling, firmness, numbness, hardness and pain following this procedure.During the procedure, the liposuction cannula is passed through the subcutaneous tissue.This causes disruption of the lymphatic channels and cellular injury, which results in these characteristic physical findings.

These findings can persist for several months following surgery.In most cases, improvement is seen within three to four weeks following surgery.In other cases, improvement may continue for up to three to four months following the procedure.Small amounts of firmness may persist up to a year following surgery.

We generally recommend the use of compression garments for three to four weeks following surgery.We also recommend low-salt diets before and after surgery.Exercise is started early, and we want patients to ambulate as soon as possible following surgery.

Massage is also helpful.It decreases firmness, hardness and swelling by mobilizing retained fluid following liposuction.All of these steps minimize firmness and swelling and improve the patient’s aesthetic result.

Recovering from Liposuction

It is normal to continue to swell (edema) for 2-3 days after surgery, plus most patients are also constipated from the surgery and pain medications causing your stomach to look bigger. 
Bruising and swelling are normal in the suctioned areas and usually increase slightly after the removal of any tape or foam. The bruising will decrease over 3-4 weeks, but may last as long as 6 weeks. The majority of the swelling will be gone within the first 3-4 weeks. However it may take 6-9 months to disappear completely. The compression garment helps reduce the swelling, and the longer it is worn, the more quickly the process will proceed.
Scattered numbness in the suctioned areas occurs occasionally and will disappear within a few weeks.As you heal, the suctioned area may feel “lumpy” and irregular. This, too, decreases with time, and massaging those areas will hasten their softening.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

Expect swelling for many weeks after liposuction

Swelling is significant in the first month to two after liposuction is normal. Compression garments and a "tincture of time" is what's needed for the vast majority of patients to realize the good end result. Be patient and continue to see your surgeon in follow up.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Swelling after liposuction stays longer than nine days

Bruising and swelling after liposuction will last several weeks, and the compression garments are used specifically to address this issue. Our patients will stay in some form of compression at least four weeks to speed healing and reduce bruising. If the picture you posted is truly your before of your abdomen, one can wonder what the liposuction was meant to improve upon in the first place.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Swelling after liposuction

Swelling after liposuction is normal. The final result will be seen after 6-12 months. Wear your compression garment in the first two weeks.

Robert Kasten, MD
Mainz Dermatologic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.