Painful Due to General Anesthesia, but Worth It - Westport, CT

I had liposuction done on my hips, inner thighs,...

I had liposuction done on my hips, inner thighs, outer/rear thighs (aka "banana rolls"), arms and knees. Even though I'd always been slender, I had certain areas that were problematic, especially "haunches" on my hips, fat bulges on my upper inner thighs, and chubby arms. At the age of 44, after working with a personal trainer for nearly two years, I was in the best shape of my life, but the problem areas were still there- and in fact they almost looked worse by comparison to the rest of my body. I decided to have surgery so I could take pride in my entire body and it would reflect all my hard work.

I got recommendations from my dermatologist and did a lot of online research as well. I wanted a surgeon who was board certified and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons as well as The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and and the one I picked was also recognized in Castle Connolly. My final decision was made easy after going for consultations- the doctor I chose was the one who gave me a realistic picture of what I could expect, instead of just telling me what I wanted to hear. He was the only one who told me he wouldn't risk doing my lower abdomen because the fat was minimal and it was mostly loose skin, and the bulges I had at my arm/chest juncture was mostly muscle- he couldn't guarantee a good result with either area so his advice was to leave them alone. He also warned that there was only so much he could do for my arms, a lot of it would depend on how much the skin tightened up, and I needed to make sure to wear compression sleeves for a full 6 weeks.I say all of this because I do think choosing the right doctor, who will give you the right expectations, is the absolute #1 criteria for having successful surgery, whatever the procedure.

As for the surgery itself, it was MUCH more painful than I had been led to believe (this was the only disconnect between me and my doctor). Because I have GERD and needed to lay on my stomach for him to get the backs of my thighs, he felt general anesthesia in a hospital setting was safer than doing the procedure in his office under local. Since I was completely unconscious, he didn't use lidocaine in the tumescent fluid, and I woke up in EXCRUCIATING pain. I needed IV pain meds and 2 percocets just so I could get dressed and make it home, and had severe pain for several days afterward.

I was on percocet for 6 days- I tried to stop sooner because I hated the side effects (extreme itchiness, constipation and stomach upset) but it just hurt too much. I had a lot of swelling in my legs for the first several days and went to the bathroom constantly- I had stitches at my sites so no external drainage to speak of after the very first day. I developed extreme bruising all down my thighs, but that was completely gone after two weeks, aided by arnica gel, witch hazel, and a heating pad. That was almost a miracle because I tend to bruise easily and my bruises take a long time to heal. But this wasn't actually bruising from the treated areas, per se, it was the migration of blood and fluid downward.

I wore a lower compression garment for 3 weeks, and sleeves for 6 weeks. They had kept everything very small and tight, so I did "expand" a bit once I finally took them off, but nonetheless my results were fantastic. I went down at least one pants size, and even my stomach fat went down without having been treated. When I went for a follow up visit, the doctor found I'd lost even more weight than what took from the lipo (about 1800 cc) and I've kept it off since.

Despite the pain, it was absolutely worth it and I love my body now! No more unsightly bulges- those fat cells are GONE FOREVER. My arms are still slightly flabby but much better than they were- and I take comfort in knowing they are the best they could possibly be, without getting an arm lift and a horrible scar.

Westport Plastic Surgeon

Dr. O'Connell is board certified, very skilled, and honest with what he can and can't do.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
4 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
4 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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Comments (4)

My skin is pretty good, I guess. I'm 45 so I had concerns about whether my arms would shink back too (unfortunately I don't have any before and after pics). I was religious about wearing the sleeves for the full 6 weeks, and actually was reluctant to take them off. My arms are much better than they were and I can't really seen any loose skin per se, but they are still more flabby than I would like, especially with all the strength training I do. It's not fat so it must just be the skin. Maybe if I'd had it done at an earlier age they would have come out better. But they still look a lot better than they did, so I'm glad I did it.
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Glad you are so happy! I'm considering a similar set of lipo right now and my biggest hesitation are my arms. Is your skin very elastic? Mine is ok not great but I really want to do them. Do you have any before and after pics?
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I am considering having lipo under general as well. Did your doctor say there was anything they could have done to prevent the excruciating pain? I am really scared after reading your post. Could they use lidocaine still under general? I have been to several consultations with different doctors and its pretty divided between doing it under local or general but I'm too scared to be awake!! So happy to hear about your wonderful results:)
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Hi Nicole, I apologize for my delayed reply, I haven't been on RealSelf in a while. I'm not sure if they can use lidocaine with general anesthesia, it might be too much for the body to handle. I think my pain may have been on the extreme end, as I had a number of different body areas done at once. I did talk to my doctor afterward and he was surprised I was in that much pain. Maybe I just have a low pain tolerance ;-). Or maybe it's because it was so unexpected. Most of what I'd read led me to think it would be no big deal, so the shock of the pain made it that much worse. In any case, the most unbearable pain was really just when I woke up- after that, once I got some pain meds into me I was OK. Again I think it's about knowing what to expect. I did like the idea of being "out" during the procedure but if I had to do it over again, I might have chosen local. My doctor also prefers local because it's much less risky overall- any time you go "out" it's a risk. But in my case, because I have GERD and needed to be on my stomach for him to get the backs of my upper thighs, he said general would be less risky. Anyway, I wish you the best of luck and let me know if you have any more questions!
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