Heat or Ice for Liposuction Swelling?

Will Heat or Ice Help with the Lipo Swelling?

Doctor Answers 12

Ice or Heat after Liposuction...

If ice or heat makes you feel better, then you can use them, but they will not really help with the swelling.  Patients are usually given a garment to wear which will help reduce swelling over time and encourage skin contraction.  Patience is important because it will take some time to subside.  Continue to follow your post op instructions and wear your garment as directed.  

Liposuction after care

I typically do not recommend either ice or heat following liposuction.  The best method to reduce post-operative swelling is to wear a properly fitting compression garment (snug but not too tight) for several weeks following the liposuction procedure.  Within a few weeks of the liposuction procedure, therapeutic massage may assist in lymphatic drainage and also reduce swelling.

Andrew P. Giacobbe, MD
Buffalo Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

After liposuction care

Ice, heat, girdles are all unproven methods to affect post op change in liposuction. Not a single study supports any of these and other methods when compared to doing nothing. Only time works and if your surgeon is technically good at this surgery your swelling will be uniform and your result outstanding. Ask your surgeon how many have you performed and then trust him. Any board certified plastic surgeon will give you good advice, follow his instructions. Liposuction is an art not a science. Liposculpture, liposuction, laser lipo, ultrasound lipo, assisted lipo, all these methods work and the swelling will go away in a few weeks, or a few months. So tincture of time is what I recommend.

Ayman Hakki, MD
Waldorf Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Compression garment helps more

This is common following liposuction. It is important to follow your surgeon's post-care instructions and make sure to wear your compression garment. To help with swelling, you can also drink plenty of fluids, go to the washroom regularly, cut back on salt, and walk leisurely around to assist in your circulation. These will help more than ice or heat packs.

Cooling does help with swelling for the first 4-5 days after liposuction

For the first few days after liposuction surgery cooling LOCALIZED areas that are particularly sore or swollen has been helpful to many of my patients. It is best done by placing a bag of dried beans in your freezer, then after a half hour of cooling in the freezer, applying the bag over your pressure garment at the particular site that feels sore or swollen.

Raymond A. Capone, Jr., MD
Pittsburgh Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Liposuction Aftercare?

Thank you for the question.

Carefully applied cooling and/or heating can provide symptomatic relief after liposuction surgery. Care must be taken to avoid thermal injury to the skin since the area treated will likely be numb. It is possible to freeze or burn the skin...

Best wishes.

Liposuction swelling

If the swelling is in the area of the surgery, compression is the best via garments.  Ice compresses can be helpful in the first day of the procedure and the next, but please be careful as the area is numb for many hours after the procedure and you don't want to leave the ice on for too long, or fall asleep with the ice in place and cause problems wtih the skin. If the swelling is in an area below the area of surgery, then these fluids which are just settling by gravity will need time to go away. Usually swelling resolves in two to three weeks and continues to improve the last little percent for a while thereafter.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Liposuction - Will Ice or Heat Affect the Recovery?

Hi Always hopeful,

Actually - neither.  Swelling is common with liposuction and I don't know of much that can be done to affect that process or to alter the normal course after liposuction aside from the compression garments that are normally applied. 

In general, after an injury, ice is recommended for the first 24-48 hours, followed by heat after that.  But I'm not sure that that's universally agreed-upon, and I have not seen the scientific basis for that recommendation.

My advice is that you follow the suggestions of your plastic surgeon, who has a routine based on his or her experience.  But if it's any consolation I don't think that either ice or heat will have more than the slightest effect, if any, on your recovery from this procedure (it may FEEL better, but be careful you don't put either directly on sensitive, post-operative skin!)

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

Ice Will Help with Liposuction Swelling

In general, right after liposuction, reducing swelling is best done with ice or other cold objects.  This should help reduce the swelling, discomfort, and swelling after your procedure.  Everyone has a slightly different protocol for the "best" ice regimen, so talk to your plastic surgeon about what he/ she recommends. 


Heat right after liposuction will increase blood flow, and thus will increase swelling.  It's best to avoid extra heat right after your procedure.


Other things which help to reduce swelling may include walking around, elevating your body areas of liposuction after surgery, and possible use of homeopathic medications.


Best Wishes to You!


Roy Kim, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Heat or ice

Immediately after the lipo I recommend ice to control swelling.This is the most effective to minimize swelling for the first 3 or 4 days post op.

Robert Brueck, MD
Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 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.