How Long After Liposuction is Pain and Swelling Normal?

I had Liposuction done on my upper/lower ab and love handles. I am 5 days post-procedure and I still have a good bit of discomfort and swelling. Is this normal, and how long does it usually take before the swelling goes away?

Doctor Answers 62

Way too early. Give it at least 3 weeks and a minimum of 3 months is even better

This is normal.

With any surgery the worst swelling and inflammation occurs for the first 4 days.

This is followed by the proliferative phase in which scar tissue is laid down to heal your wounds for up to 6 weeks.

Six weeks after surgery, you transition to the maturation phase in which your scars soften and the collagen is organized. This takes a minimum of an additional 6 weeks and can last up to 2 years.

Generally, I advise patients to wait 3-4 months before judging their long term results.

Good luck!

Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

It may take several months for your swelling to completely resolve


You are just five days post-procedure, so I am not surprised that you still have swelling and discomfort. Rest assured, however, you will improve quickly. It takes about two weeks for a majority of the bruising and swelling to resolve. However, it takes another two to four months for all of the swelling to completely resolve. You will continue to see positive improvements during this time. I can tell you from first-hand knowledge (I had liposuction myself) that whatever you are going through right now if completely worth it. Just give it some time and your symptoms will improve.

Enjoy your new body!

David Shafer, MD

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 74 reviews

Recovery from liposuction

Recovery from liposuction takes time. Its easy to get discouraged but if you stay patient you should enjoy very nice results in time. i tell my patients that there is a three stage healing process.

The first stage takes 2-3 weeks. During the first 2-3 weeks the initial swelling is resolving and you can get a general sense for your new shape. the pain should slowly subside over the first week and get progressively better after that. The second stage takes 2-3 months and will show you the details of your new shape as the swelling subsides and your tissue softens. The final healing can take up to one year. It is not uncommon to have areas of numbness that take up to a year to resolve. 

I hope this info helps!

Adam Rubinstein, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Liposuction pain subsides long before swelling does

The discomfort of liposuction is a relatively short-lived process from one to four weeks post op in most cases.

The majority of the swelling will resolve in four to six weeks, but not completely healed for 6-9 months.

Pressure garments for the first month along with lymphatic massage helps tremendously. I will often use an Arnica Montana supplement perioperatively to reduce swelling and bruising in my liposuction cases.

Good luck and hang in there, it will get better.

Brian J. Lee, MD
Fort Wayne Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

It is normal to experience swelling following any type of liposuction!

I have been in practice for 23 years and have been performing liposuction throughout my career. I now use the VASER, but the basic principles remain the same.

I can assure you that it is quite normal to experience swelling following any type of liposuction procedure especially after only five days!

To hasten the absorption process, we have our patients wear compression garments and instruct them to perform anti-edema massage. It is very important in the lower extremities to avoid prolonged sitting and, when not ambulating, to keep the legs elevated.

Swelling should subside with time and the vast majority should dissipate after three weeks. Please keep in mind that without any additional weight gain, that your optimal results will not be seen until 6-9 months.

Thanks for your question.

Stephen A. Goldstein, MD
Englewood Plastic Surgeon

Pain and Swelling after Liposuction

It is very normal to have swelliing and discomfort 5 days after liposuction. If you are ever worried, call your surgeon to check in with him/her. Most patients are very tender and swollen (+/- draining) for the first two days. You may be more uncomfortable in the morning and feel better as the day goes on. Most patients are able to return to work (still tender) at day 3 or 4. Some are still very sore even at 2 weeks. It is common to have bruising and swelling for at least 1-3 weeks.

Remember, healing from liposuction is an ACTIVE process. This means you should be walking, stretching, and not "babying" the treated areas. Remember to sit and stand up tall.  
Also, pain and swelling will be more if you have had lipo of both your abdomen and your flanks as they are in the same area of the body (the trunk). This is also true for doing inner and outer thighs at the same time. 

Remember to always call your doctor if you have any concerns.  

Jennifer Reichel, MD
Seattle Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Liposuction Recovery

Liposuction on the body is generally not a very painful procedure after the acute postoperative period during the first 48 hours. The procedure is well tolerated and most patients complain of persistent discomfort that allows them to go to work normally for the first 3 weeks after surgery. Swelling, on the other hand, subsides within the first 3 weeks and there are remnants of swelling, although minimal, for 6 months.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

The Majority of Pain & Swelling Following Liposuction Can Be Resolved In The First 3 Weeks of the Recovery Period

Patients who undergo liposuction can expect swelling and pain to occur following this procedure. At this point your pain and swelling are entirely normal and should resolve with time.
Significant improvement in swelling and pain can be seen in the first three weeks following surgery, with the majority of swelling gone in about three months. Small amounts of swelling may persist up to a year following surgery.
We generally recommend a low salt diet before and after liposuction. Exercise is usually started early in the post-operative period, and we want patients to ambulate as soon as possible following surgery. Massage is also helpful, it decreases swelling by mobilizing retained fluid following liposuction. All of these steps help to minimize the duration of swelling following surgery.
In your case, your swelling is normal and should resolve with time. Compression, massage, ambulation and low salt intake will hopefully help you get there sooner.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 193 reviews

Liposuction recovery

Bruising and swelling after liposuction are expected postoperative findings. Bruising often takes 4-6 weeks to completely resolve and swelling often lags behind, sometimes sticking around for 3-4 months depending upon the extent of your liposuction operation itself. As you can imagine, a greater extent of liposuction will create more space in which to accumulate swelling. Your patience and adherence to your plastic surgeon's postoperative regimen of activity restriction, compression garments and possibly post operative massage will serve you well in appreciating your final result.

Rachel Streu, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Very Variable

The discomfort and pain from liposuction are variable between one patient and the next. Some patients require narcotic pain medications, while others get by with Tylenol or nothing at all.

Swelling after liposuction takes a bit longer to resolve. For most patients, the swelling should be 90% resolved within about the first 6 weeks, with the residual swelling gradually subsiding over the first 6 months. Compression garments, along with early massage (we advise patients to use a rolling-pin) help to hasten the resolution of the early swelling, and also seem to de-sensitize the areas of liposuction. After 6 months, both the patient and the surgeon should have a good idea of the long-term outcome of the surgery.

Athleo Louis Cambre, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 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.