Liposuction Swelling - How Long Until It Goes Down?

I had my saddlebags removed six weeks ago and one of them looks lumpy and looks like if I have something in there that moves. I also had liposuction above my butt, I'm still numb and I now I have a lump. Will this go away? How long does it take for swelling to go away?

Doctor Answers 146

Swelling after Liposuction

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After liposuction, major swelling may last for a month or two. The minor swelling can linger for several months after that. The skin contraction and shrinkage takes approximately 6-9 months to occur, meaning you may not see your final result/outcome for 6 months to one year after your surgery. The compression garment is to be worn for the first 4-6 weeks to assist in the skin contraction such that an even contour is achieved.

If you notice some hard or firm areas a few weeks after surgery, this is normal. You can gently massage the area with circular motions using a lotion to help expedite the softening process of the firm, calcified fat.

Please consult with a board certified plastic surgeon for any other liposuction related concerns.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 412 reviews

Liposuction swelling

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Liposuction takes about 6 months to heal. Subtle improvement continues for another year.

  • numbness? Yes, about 6 months
  • lumpiness? Yes, about 6 months
  • Why? the body heals with protein. It makes too much at first. It slowly removes what you don't need. That takes time. 
  • You feel something that moves in the saddlebag area? That's unusual. It may be fluid or loose skin. Your surgeon should be able to tell you by examining you. 
    Good luck and be patient.

Liposuction swelling for up to 6 months

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Liposuction is a very traumatic procedure for the tissues. The lymphatic tissues, or the tiny vessels that remove fluid from the tissues, are significantly damaged during liposuction. It is this reason that the swelling lasts so long. These tiny vessels need to reestablish themselves to remove this fluid.

This can take up to 6 months. However, significantly noticeable contour irregularities that need to be addressed will be visible sooner.

It takes at least 6 months to see the final result after liposuction

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Numbness, bumpiness and swelling are common and normal after liposuction. Time, regular exercise, and gentle massage generally resolves these issues.

Most patients will see 80% of their result at 1 month after surgery but the final result will not be seen until after all swelling resolves and the tissues have had a chance to shrink. This is usually 4 to 6 months postop.

Areas that undergo liposuction often take up to 6 months...

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Areas that undergo liposuction often take up to 6 months for the edema (swelling) to dissipate. The rate of dissipation of the swelling is often dependent on many factors such as technique used.

The use of ultrasonic liposuction is thought by some to have a more rapid resolution of swelling. The use of tumescent techniques may affect the amount of swelling in the tissues. These techniques involve injecting large amounts of dilute lidocaine into the fat prior to suction. In addition, hormonal status, age, salt intake, genetics play a part in rate of resolution of the edema. I generally give the patients 6 months for the swelling to go down.

The numbness is absolutely normal, and usually resolves as the swelling goes down. If you have a lump that you can feel, I would suggest initiating a massage program to the area. This often helps with the swelling and may improve the contour. If the lump is still present after 6 months, re-operation may be necessary.

Wilfred Brown, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon

Liposuction Swelling - How Long Until It Goes Down? #Liposuction #swelling

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Thank you for your question!!  After having liposuction, you will encounter various findings as you have described a couple.  Typically, there will be a firmness starting around a week or so after the procedure.  This firmness is tender when rubbed.  It eventually will improve over time.  Nodules/lumps are very common.  These findings all will resolve and the tissue will regain its sensation typically as well over time.  The swelling can last for months though and it also depends on age, genetics, and lifestyle.  I really urge my patients to drink a lot of fluids, eat a clean healthy diet, and seek a lymphatic massage therapist in the are where they live.  Typically by 6-8 months, most of the swelling resolves.  Hope this helps!!

Liposuction Swelling

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At 6 weeks, you are very early in the liposuction recovery process.   It typically takes 6 months to see the final result.    

As long as you have swelling, I would recommend a tight compression garment.   In addition, any area with hardness needs frequent daily deep tissue massage.     This hardness can progress to scar tissue, which can result in a contour deformity.

Bottomline, I recommend close followup with your plastic surgeon, aggressive massage, and tight compression.

Dr. Gill

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Swelling After Liposuction

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Specific to your question, that area on your hip that moves when you touch it is likely to be a fluid collection. It would be best to see your surgeon to have this drained. The general rule I have is that firm swelling after liposuction gets better on its own, soft swelling does not.
Regarding swelling in general, this is an exceptionally important question because understanding the role of swelling is likely to significantly impact your appreciation for your results. At the same time, it is a question for which there is not a distinct answer.  Every person and every procedure is a little bit different. In young people, especially those who are fit to begin with, swelling is fairly minimal. If only distinct areas are treated, swelling is fairly minimal as well.
Nonetheless, with enough experience there always seems to be outliers who do better than might be expected or who have more swelling than one might guess.
I always ask my liposuction patients to allow at least three months before being concerned that there is persistent swelling.  I take photos of what gets suctioned out to remind them, if one is having a tough time being patient, that the fat is gone and that once the swelling dissipates, the results will be there. 
Dr. Pyle

Jeremy Pyle, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 126 reviews

Most liposuction swelling is gone in the first 6 weeks

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But there is still remodeling that takes place for months after that, so your true final result is really about 6 months after surgery.  Compression and massage help the process. 

Your reference to "lumps" and "something that moves", though, is concerning.  See your surgeon, as you may have a seroma (the "something that moves")--a fluid collection that needs to be drained.  If that's not the case, at least your surgeon can take a look and give you some reassurance and guidance.

Carmen Kavali, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Liposuction Swelling and Edema

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The initial swelling seen with Liposuction is due to the traumatic injury to the subcutaneous tissues and lymphatic channels and the release of inflammatory mediators. This swelling may persist for several months and be associated with tender and indurated areas. 

Methods which improve and speed recovery are:

1. Immediate application of foam enhanced compression garments to limit bruising.  

2. Wearing a compression garment until all edema and firmness resolve.    

3. Deep message to enhance the lymphatic flow and soften any lumpy areas. 

4. A return to normal activity which increases blood flow.  

Some degree of numbness may persist even after the swelling resolves. The full return of sensation may take the longest time.      

Marvin Shienbaum M.D.  

Tampa Bay Plastic Surgeon 



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.