SmartLipo Recovery

I am having smart lipo next week.  My job requires me to lift up to 70 lbs and push and pull heavy items.  How long will I be out of work? I am having my stomach done.

Doctor Answers 10

Recovery from Smartlipo depends on type of anesthetic used

While many physicians try to tell patients it is all about the Smart Lipo, here is the secret: It's about the anesthetic that is used prior to doing the procedure. Tumescent liposuction, invented by a dermatologist, is the reason that dermatologists typically have patients up and about the day of the procedure and the reason that my patients go to work the next day or two after surgery.

If your physician tells you the recovery will take more than a day, they are not doing the tumescent method and you are going to have extra bruising and much more risk from your procedure. Additionally, you are probably going to have a bit more lumpiness after the procedure as well.

Smart Lipo only refers to the laser portion done after the tumescent liposuction. What we do in my clinic is to numb up the area with the tumescent formula. This is done over a period of about 2 hours while the patient is awake and watching TV or talking with the nurse. Then, the Smart Lipo part is done and this is followed by suctioning of the fat. This, too, is done with the patient awake, which allows us to see how the area looks for real after the procedure. When a patient is under strong anesthesia or, goodness forbid, general anesthesia, the look of the area is very different than when they are awake. This is one reason that tumescent method is so much better than any other method and the reason that patients done in this way have superior results.

It takes a bit longer and patients can't be lined up like dominos to be done, but the results are well worth it. The recovery time is so much different as well.

I can point to patients who are nurses who have pulled 12 hour night shifts the day of the surgery and guys who have baled hay that day or women who have gone on a treadmill that day. No other method can even begin to say they can do this.

So, what it all comes down to is NOT the laser, but the method the surgeon (preferably dermatologist) is using. It pays to ask questions prior to your surgery or you will be bruised, tender and out of work for longer than necessary if you don't do the right method.

Have a question? Ask a doctor

Recover for 5 days after SmartLipo to be safe

Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding Smart Lipo.  Recovery from Smart Lipo is much quicker compared to traditional liposuction because there is less trauma, bruising and bleeding.  If heavy lifting is required generally 5 days of rest is recommended.

Chia Chi Kao, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

The anesthetic will determine the recovery time

If you have awake, tumescent anesthetic, where the area is infiltrated with numbing fluid, you may be suprised at how fast you bounce back. We have had several people go out for dinner the same evening, and one police officer worked crowd control at a basketball game later in the day!

You will feel somewhat bloated from the water that is still onboard. Also you will likely be given a compressive garment to wear a few weeks. Together, these make exertion - whether work related or not - cumbersome for the first couple of weeks. We find all our patients do well with our recommendation of zero downtime. Ease back gradually into full activity, and avoid working the area that was operated on, but keep moving,  - walking especially is good..

Each surgeon will have his or her own instructions, and you will want to be sure you will be able to have the time and ability to follow them.

Christopher J. Peers, MD
South Bend Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Smartlipo and exercise

i ask my smartlipo patients to avoid going to the gym for about 3 wks.  this may be a little bit conservative, but i think people get the idea in their minds that since smartlipo can be done while they are awake, that it is not "real" surgery.  smartlipo is still surgery and it carries risks of problems like bleeding and seroma (fluid pockets after surgery).  asking people to rest from heavy activity and exercise can lessen these risks.  and it sounds like your work is actually hard work!

Eric Chang, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

SmartLipo techniques can shorten your recovery

SmartLipo and the latest generation SmartLipo Triplex device has allowed me to deliver better liposuction results and faster recoveries than other techniques. The uniquely safe manner in which this device delivers laser energy to the treatment area results in less swelling, less bruising and less pain than with other techniques. These observations  have been documented in several published scientific articles.

There are a number of other factors that determine the nature of the recovery following liposuction and some of these should come as no surprise. Faster recovery is expected in the following situations:

  1. Avoidance of medications and supplements that promote bruising before surgery.
  2. Healthier patients who are near their ideal weight and are having small areas treated recover faster.
  3. Smaller treatment areas create less injury to your body and therefore require less time to heal.
  4. Gentler techniques result in faster recovery and this includes modalities such as SmartLipo, smaller suction cannula's and the use of tumescent solution for anesthesia.

It is foolish to not allow for your body to heal before returning to activities. My patients are encouraged to remain active after surgery but to expect soreness, swelling and some bruising for 7 - 10 days. Most patients are able to return to light work in 1-3 days and resume exercise in 2 weeks. You should be able to do the same.

Dr. Mosher

Mathew C. Mosher, MD
Vancouver Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Smart Lipo Recovery

The safest answer is to hold off from that kind of activity for 2-3 wks but the reality is your probably ok after one week. This is as long as your recovery is normal. Keep your garment on for 4 wks. 

Justin Yovino, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Smartlipo recovery is more rapid than typical liposuction

Smartlipo is a wonderful technology which helps to disrupt, melt and dislodge fat prior to removal.  It therefore is  a more gentle way of removing fat.  I find that the recovery is very much so related to the amount of "work" you have done.  Even if you are having your entire abdomen treated, as long as the procedure is going to be completed within 1.5 - 2 hours then it is not a "huge" recovery.  If, however, you need more "work" done, then the recovery is going to be more extensive. 

Some may comment on the type of anesthetic used (general vs tumescent), but I think it is more dependent on the total volume or surface area.  You may want to have a week or two of vacation time that you can dip into if it is an extensive procedure, whereas I have performed a lot of procedures which are smaller and the patients don't take any time off work other than the day of the procedure (regardless of the type of anesthetic they choose).

Richard H. Fryer, MD
Salt Lake City Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 121 reviews

Liposuction and downtime

Downtime varies, but usually you should avoid strenuous activity for about one to two weeks after your liposuction.


Dr. Karamanoukian
Los Angeles

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

Smart Lipo Requires Several Days of Downtime

As mentioned, when this procedure is done as an outpatient with tumescent local anesthesia, our patients are ready to do their work within several days of the procedure in most all instances. I like telling my patients to not work or do anything physical for 24 hours after the procedure, and then they can begin light activity for 1-2 days and then most everyone is good to go.

Michael Gold, MD
Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

SmartLipo Recovery

Our patients with jobs that require driving to work and sitting at a computer or similar are out for 2 days, and for a job that requires heavy lifting with pressure against the abdomen, it might be 10-14 days, but probably less. There is always some pressure, tingling and numb feelings, as well as some discomfort than can last for several weeks, but that shouldn't keep you from going back to work. 

Robert M. Lowen, MD
Mountain View Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 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.