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 27

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
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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.

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
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

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
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews


Hello, hemosiderin is sub-product of hemoglobin; it causes this purple, red and yellowish colors when an hematoma forms; usually it disappear in 4 weeks; avoid sun; some ointments can help disappear faster.


Kemil Issa, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Hemosiderin staining

Hemosiderin can be deposited in the skin in areas where there was bruising.  This pigmentation generally improves or resolves over time.

Skin discoloration after liposuction

It is difficult to tell from the image, but the good news is that the vast majority of the time this resolves on its own, or after a brief course of topical therapy. Some bruising is common after liposuction, but it normally resolves in the first few weeks. If it persists, it is most similar to a really bad bruise, which if you've ever had, can stain the skin for quite some time but usually resolves.

Have your plastic surgeon take a look.

I hope this was helpful!

Bryan Correa, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Hemosiderin staining will resolve on its own

Thank you so much for your question.

The bruising you experienced is actually a manifestation of red blood cells in the soft tissues.When those red blood cells are broken down, they release hemoglobin which is the pigment that carries oxygen in a red blood cell.That is then broken down to hemosiderin which is an iron-containing pigment that can cause some bruising or some staining of the skin postoperatively.

It will resolve at its own accord in about six to eight weeks.

Thank you again for your question.

Glynn Bolitho, PhD, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

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.

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.