12 days post op Liposuction, my tummy is hard and bigger. Is this normal?

I had lipo on my stomach 12 days ago n when I came home it was flat by the next day but now it's bigger thn before lipo and very hard..my dr says this is normal but what can I do? I'm pretty concerned, looks deformed

Doctor Answers 5

Hardness and Swelling after Liposuction

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It is very common to develope hardness (induration) and swelling after liposuction of the abdomen and/or waist. It is good to hear that your stomach was flat - that means it will very likely go back to being that way. It is always important to talk to your doctor and have an exam to make sure everything is normal. You can develope what is called a "seroma". This is a collection of fluid and can be tender. Sometimes they  need to be drained.

One option to try and improve the hardness and swelling is to have low frequency ultrasound performed. I am not absolutely sure if it really speeds up the process, but my patients do say that it feels good to have done.

Liposuction worse at day 12

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Thank you for your liposuction question.
  • What you are seeing is probably totally normal.
  • Right after liposuction, you see the fat gone.
  • But body healing leads to progressive swelling that hides your result,
  • You will need to wait about 6 weeks to see significant improvement
  • And six months to see your final result.
  • But you should call your surgeon and arrange to be seen to be sure nothing else is going on.
  • Best wishes.

After Liposuction

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How are your caring for your surgical areas?  Are you wearing post-operative garments?  Are you using foam pads within the garments?  Are you taking any supplements?  What is your diet?  Are you taking a stool softener?  Are you constipated? 

All of these things come into play when we are evaluating results after surgery.  12 days is very, very early after surgery to be evaluating results.  You will still have a lot of swelling at this point, that will likely last for many weeks.  If you are constipated, your abdomen may be a bit distended and you may be retaining water.  Combined with a higher salt intake, you may be several pounds above what you were immediately post-operatively.  Be sure to follow a sensible diet, not too much salt.  Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.  Walk if your surgeon wants you to be walking.  If it's okay with your surgeon, take a stool softener or something more aggressive as needed. 

You are likely wearing a post-operative compression garment.  Make sure you are wearing it as instructed.  If you increase your activity too early, you may be at risk for developing a fluid collection, or seroma.

A hard feeling to the tissue is temporarily normal.  It is early scar tissue and some reaction of the tissues to surgery.  Ask your surgeon when/if massage of the areas is appropriate.

Congratulations and best of luck to you.

Emily J. Kirby, MD
Fort Worth Plastic Surgeon

Post op swelling

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How long will the bruising and swelling last?
The duration of bruising and swelling after liposuction usually depends on the post-operative care technique used by the surgeon. The amount of bruising varies considerably between patients.
The tumescent technique for liposuction used together with the "open-drainage" technique (skin incisions are not closed with stitches) reduces the amount of bruising after liposuction. With tumescent liposuction, bruising is nearly absent one to two weeks after surgery in most patients.
By not using stitches to close incision sites, the rate of drainage of the blood-tinged anesthetic solution is accelerated. This minimizes the amount of bruising.
 How long will the swelling last?
With open-drainage (incisions are not closed with stitches) and appropriate compression garments (worn for 3 to 6 days) swelling is 90% resolved 4 weeks after liposuction. When incisions are closed with stitches (trapping residual blood-tinged tumescent fluid beneath the skin) swelling persists for much longer, and is typically 90% resolved after 8 to 12 weeks. With ultrasonic assisted liposuction (UAL) significant swelling can persist for many months.
 How can postoperative swelling, bruising, and tenderness be minimized?
New techniques for post-liposuction care allow more rapid recovery, less bruising, less swelling and less prolonged tenderness. This is achieved by encouraging rapid "open drainage" of residual blood-tinged solution of tumescent local anesthesia. By allowing the tiny incision sites to remain open without being closed by stitches and by using special absorptive pads (HK Pads) together with post-operative elastic compression garments bruising, swelling and pain can be minimized. With open drainage, patients can usually see dramatic improvements within two to four weeks after surgery, and they can expect to see 90 percent of the final result within 4 to 6 weeks. With older techniques that closed incisions with sutures, the ultimate results following liposuction usually require 12 to 16 weeks to become fully apparent.
information from liposuction website

By Dr. Norma Kassardjian

Jeffrey A. Klein, MD
San Juan Capistrano Dermatologic Surgeon

Swelling can make it liposuction area hard and somewhat larger in the short-term.

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The fat removed by liposuction is replaced at least in part by fluid after the procedure. This can increase the caliber of the area and create firmness. It will get better as time passes.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 41 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.