"Draining" Massage As Post-op Therapy with Liposuction

This massage pushes post-op fluid out the lipo sites. If the wounds close then they are opened by the therapist to drain during each session.What are the benefits or risks w/this type of massage post-op, that is used in South America as a pt therapy for up to 20 days?

Doctor Answers 6

Post-Liposuction Lymphatic Massage is a good idea - IF done properly

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Liposuction removes fat traumatically. While various forms of trauma exert different degrees of trauma, their common denominator is the fact that they all use high vacuum which literally pulls fat out. Like all injuries, liposuction is associated with variable degrees of injury to the lymphatic vessels and resulting soft tissue swelling.

Lymphatic massage literally directs such fluids to the areas which contain the highest concentration in lymphatics to help the body mobilize and absorb excess fluid. If done well, lymphatic massage will reduce swelling and hasten recovery.  BUT the massage therapist  should NOT work on the former liposuction access ports or try to have them "opened by the therapist to drain during each session" . The more manipulation of these surgical incisions, the higher the likelihood of poor scarring and infection.

Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Your own body does an amazing job of healing itself.

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Milking the wound so the drain fluid instead of close up sounds like a great way to encourage a severe post surgical infection.  The body does not need this kind of help.  What swelling is present in the tissues following liposuction, the body is more than capable of removing on its own.  

The body defends itself from infection by rapidly sealing up the small holes made to perform liposuction. Frustrating this defense by the message you are describing will only interfere with the extremely powerful mechanisms the body has to prevent infection.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Lymphatic drainage massage after liposuction.

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We use this massage routinely after liposuction, specially of the stomach, because it helps produce a totally smooth result.  But it is not to remove collected fluid!  If you have a seroma (very rare), it should be treated surgically.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

Post-op liposuction massage

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Sometimes massage can be very helpful with tough areas for lymphatic drainage to avoid contour irregularities and to help with swelling in stubborn areas.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Lymphatic drainage massage

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A month or more after liposuction, the equipment that performs lymphatic drainage massage should not interfere with the insertion scars but if done sooner, there may be trauma which will upset the healing and appearance of them.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Lymphatic Massage After Lipo

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I provide a lymphatic drainage massage (LDM) for all patients after surgery, and some opt to do them up to twice a week.  My therapist is certified in LDM and understands the proper way to manipulate the tissues.  It is a fairly light touch.

Most of my patients experience an improvement in their swelling after LDM.

John LoMonaco, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 276 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.