Looking Fatter After Liposuction?

I had liposuction on my Stomach and 'Love handles' 9 days ago. I'm concerned because of the amount of numbness and lumpiness in my stomach. My stomach also looks bigger, and the jeans I wore before surgery do not fit right now. I am wearing a compression garment and following all the doctors instructions. Is this normal? What should i do? I can still pull a handful of fat from my stomach, and the doctor said he removed 1300 ccs of fat. Please help! Thanks!

Doctor Answers 19

Early swelling after Liposuction. Is it normal?

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You are experiencing fluid collection in the area treated and this is 100% normal as lymphatics are temporarily obstructed. It takes months for this to resolve  but each week you will look better.  Avoid salt...Sodium...and restrict to 1500 mg a day or less.  Do not gain weight by calories.  Be patient.  It takes 12 months to heal and that is part of the bargain when a person has elective or any surgery.  By 3 months you will look better.  In fact by 6 weeks you will look better.  Talk to your surgeon. Garments help comfort but in the end  the same result occurs with or without early garments.  I have been doing this for 29 years and 3600 cases and see concerns such as your all of the time. You will be fine.  Good Luck.

Liposuction results take time

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It is normal in most cases to have quite a bit of swelling and even some numbness 9 days after abdominal and flank liposuction.  This takes time!  I tell my patients you will see some results at 3-4 weeks, 80% of the result at 4 months, and final results at 6 months.  There are several things you can do in the postoperative period such as limiting your dietary salt intake which helps.  Most surgeons "close" or suture the incisions after liposuction; howver, one thing that I do with my patients is to leave the liposuction incisions "open" at surgery.   They will leak some fluid into absorbant pads for the first 2 days after surgery but I've found that the swelling goes down much faster and these patients can start to see their results even faster.  Finally post-lymphatic massaging is also a very important aspect of recovery and getting swelling to resolve.  I hope this helps!


James F. Boynton, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Swelling after liposuction

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Swelling is indeed common after liposuction.  This swelling comes from both the areas that had surgery, as well as from the body as a whole.  This comes from inflammatory mediators that cause swelling in the entire body, including hands, toes, etc.  It is a normal consqeuence of healing from surgery.  Seroma formation nowadays is very rare indeed now that ultrasound is less commonly performed.  Use of the laser may predispose to longer healing times and seroma formation more so than with wet or superwet techniques.

Postoperative swelling is greater in patients who eat salty foods, exercise too early, live in warm humid climates, etc.

In "modelly type" patients who are thin to begin with, the difference between the before and the after is often not apparent for a longer period of time.  In heavier patients, the differences are usually immediate and profound.

Still, it is a good idea to talk with your surgeon to make sure you are on track.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

It is a trade - lose fat cells permanently- gain water temporarily

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In tumescent liposuction, often several quarts of numbing water solution are infiltrated into the areas being treated. We always tell our patients we are making a trade- they give us their fat cells and we give them water. Its a trade everyone is most happy to make!

Depending on the specific technique used, you may have considerably more water present at the end of the procedure than the actual volume of fat cells removed!

 If you combine that with the inevitable swelling anyway, its no wonder that your body will take at least three or more months to get to its destination.  Don't worry, you"ll get there.

Christopher J. Peers, MD
South Bend Facial Plastic Surgeon

Bigger AFTER Liposuction?

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It is not uncommon to have a moderate amount of swelling after liposuction. That, along with the likelihood that some of the Tumescent fluid (helps with bleeding and pain control) that was infused into the areas in which you had liposuction may remain (although that would only apply for the first 1-3 days after surgery)

Edema, or swelling, can persist for days to weeks after Liposuction, and can worsen with increases in activity. That is why it is important to wear your compressive garment as much as possible in the early postoperative period. 

I have had patients complain that AFTER surgery they can't fit into clothes that they could BEFORE surgery! As the swelling subsides and the skin contracts, those items will once again fit, and hopefully become too big. 

Recovering from Liposuction

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It is normal to continue to swell (edema) for 2-3 days after surgery, plus most patients are also constipated from the surgery and pain medications causing your stomach to look bigger. 
Bruising and swelling are normal in the suctioned areas and usually increase slightly after the removal of any tape or foam. The bruising will decrease over 3-4 weeks, but may last as long as 6 weeks. The majority of the swelling will be gone within the first 3-4 weeks. However it may take 6-9 months to disappear completely. The compression garment helps reduce the swelling, and the longer it is worn, the more quickly the process will proceed.
Scattered numbness in the suctioned areas occurs occasionally and will disappear within a few weeks.As you heal, the suctioned area may feel “lumpy” and irregular. This, too, decreases with time, and massaging those areas will hasten their softening.

Post-op liposuction

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You are too early post-op at this point. You have to give it 3-4 months minimum to see the results of the procedure.

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

At no point in the post op period should you look fatter after lipo than you did before.

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There is swelling after liposuction for the first 3-4 days then the swelling starts to go down but the swelling is never bigger than you did before the liposuction.  You may be developing a fluid collection called a hematoma/seroma which the doc can drain easily.  See your doc and follow his instructions.

David Hansen, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Probably Not

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You describe numbness, lumpiness and swelling nine (9) days after liposuction.   This is almost undoubtedly swelling.  Thirteen hundred (1300) CC’s of fat removal, which you report, is pretty significant for the abdomen and once the swelling goes down, it will definitely be smaller.  Lumpiness can be a problem regardless of how much or how little is removed and may require some revision.  Overall, be patient as your best result will be seen at about six (6) months’ time.  Continue to follow your Board Certified Plastic Surgeon’s advice, wearing the compression garment and activity levels, as instructed, to get the best outcome. 

Richard A. D’Amico, MD, FACS
Englewood Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Liposuction recovery

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Thank you for your question. It is very important to remember that for the next few months (usually 3-6 months) you will be swelling. You really won't see the result until 6-12 months. You also have to keep in mind that you are collecting fluid in the areas where liposuction was performed. With that being said, It is difficult to tell you after only 9 days because you are not really going to see that full result yet. Hope this helped, best of luck!

Dhaval M. Patel 
Double board certified
Plastic surgeon 
Hoffman Estates

Dhaval M. Patel, MD
Hoffman Estates Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 100 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.