What is Hemosiderin Staining and How Long Does It Last?

I had a mommy makeover March 1st, 2010. This included tummy tuck, breast lift, breast augmentation, hernia repair, and liposuction of the hips. I recently noticed that I have discoloration (bruising) in the area where I had liposuction. The bruising is almost symmetrical on both hips. Is there anything I can do to get rid of the bruising? My doctor has diagnosed me with hemosiderin staining. Will it be permanent? Can someone explain this condition to me?

Doctor Answers (23)

Hemosiderin VS Hyperpigmentation


In conditions where there is constant bleeding into tissues (such as venous ulcers etc), the red cells in the blood break down and their contents are taken up "pac man" style by the macrophages, the cells responsible to eating up germs and debris in the body. Inside the macrophages the hemoglobin, the iron containing molecule which holds on to oxygen is broken up and its iron is combined into a storage form of iron and proteins with a dark yellow-brown pigment called hemosiderin. In effect, it is a natural form of auto-tattooing.

That being said, I do not think you demonstrate hemosiderin which is seen in chronic condition but just a case of inflammatory hyperpigmentation. You should be able to correct it with a course of bleaching cream (such as Hydroquinone). You may want to speak to a good dermatologist.

Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

What is Hemosiderin Staining and How Long Does It Last?

Hemosiderin staining happens when red blood cells become chronically congested in an area and die.  When they die, hemoglobin is released.  Hemoglobin contains iron, which is engulfed by local white blood cells.  Many people have hemosiderin staining around their ankles if they have jobs requiring them to stand for long periods of time.  It is an early warning sign that compression stockings need to be worn or ulcers can develop over several decades.

Hyperpigmentation can result from liposuction causing heat or brusing on the undersurface of the skin.  This is a relatively uncommon but known side effect of liposuction.  It will likely fade with time, but can be improved in the short term with bleaching creams containing Hydroquinone.  

Kind regards,

-- Dr. Mussman

Jason Mussman, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Hemosiderin Staining after Mommy Makeover

Hemosiderin staining is a discoloration of the skin that occurs in an area where significant bruising was seen.  It can happen after liposuction or any other surgery.  It typically resolves with time but can be a slow and frustrating process.  I would recommend patience, and you will likely see significant improvement.  Good luck.

Sacha Obaid, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

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Hemosiderin staining of skin following surgery


Hemosiderin is a pigment that is a byproduct of hemoglobin that has spread into the tissues following injury with bleeding and bruising of the tissues. It contains iron pgiment and may take along time (years) for the body to metaoblize the iron and pigment that has spread into the tissues.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
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Hemosiderin staining usually resolves in time


Hemosiderin staining is the result of the iron left in tissues after blood loss into the tissues and the body's attempt to recycle the valuable parts of the blood lost in the tissues. In this case, the hemosiderin is the iron that is left behind after other elements of the blood have been resorted. This is common after bruising and hemotomas and sclerotherapy.

Most people do not have hemosiderin stains regardless of the amount of blood in the tissues. Others have hemosiderin stains because of the failure of their body to completely retrieve this lost iron. In time though, most individuals are able to slowly and completely resorb the iron and thus the stains become less apparent. I am not aware of any medications or treatments to encourage this absorption although heat in the area should increase the blood flow and increase the elements that resorb the iron.

John K. Long, MD
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Resolution over time

This type of staining in the tissues sometimes happens after liposuction, but almost always resolves with time.  It can take years for it to resolve completely.

Gary Lawton, MD, FACS
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Hemosiderin staining of the skin after liposuction

Liposuction or any deep bruise will release red blood cells into the soft tissue. These cells will break down and deposit hemoglobin which may stain the tissues and overlying skin. Certain individuals are more prone to this staining but it can happen to anyone. There are no quick fix remedies for this discoloration but the tissues will improve slowly and normal pigmentation will often return to the affected areas. This process may take several years. Minimizing additional trauma and sun exposure to the involved areas will allow the healing to progress more rapidly. Be patient and focus on your new more youthful shape.

Andrew Goldberg, MD
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Hemosiderin Staining Following Liposuction


             It’s not unusual for patients to experience bleeding following liposuction. This can result in red blood cells permeating the soft tissue in the involved areas. Over the course of time, these red blood cells and their hemoglobin are broken down and degraded. One of their byproducts is hemosiderin.

            Hemosiderin can stain the soft tissue. Although this staining isn’t permanent it can take years to breakdown, resolve, and disappear. Unfortunately there’s no treatment that can accelerate the process.


Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 89 reviews

Color changes after liposuction

Hemosiderin staining is due to iron left over in the tissues after significant or prolonged bruising. It usually resolves on its own, but can take years to completely go away. Hyperpigmentation is due to increased melanin and can be treated with bleaching creams. Laser treatments can sometimes speed up the process. Good luck.

Grant Stevens, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
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Hemosiderin Staining

Hemosiderin staining is the development of patches of brownish color just under the skin. It usually occurs after the breakdown of red blood cells found in a significant bruise or hematoma.  Your body will eventually break down the hemosiderin, clearing the stains and leaving the skin normal again. The stains resolve over a varied amount of time (sometimes taking a couple of years to completely resolve)  as the amount of blood the areas may vary.  However, you may simply have a bit of hyper pigmentation, which occurs more commonly and may be treated with a bleaching cream later if it does not resolve. Best of luck. 

Luis H. Macias, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

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.