How do you know there is swelling after lipo and not just fat left over? What do you look for? (photos)

I just got lipo 10 weeks ago and my doc says I am still very swollen. I don't think he is being honest and I would like to know how he knows I'm swollen without being able to see inside to really know. I have no pain, lumps, or numbness.

Doctor Answers 9

How do you know there is swelling after lipo and not just fat left over? What do you look for?

Hello dear, thanks for your question and provided information as well... You have to know that swelling after lipo can be present for at least 6 to 8 weeks using your garment, if you don't use it it will last more, you need to follow your surgeon's instructions.. If you're so soon after lipo you cannot think about fat, because you cannot notice fat left over when you're also swollen.

Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 397 reviews

Swelling after liposuction

I am concerned on why you don't trust your doctor. There is a difference between how retained fat feels and excess fluid as in swelling. Your doctor also knows how thin the area was as he was performing the liposuction. If now, it is considerably thicker, than it must be fat. My rule is one month of swelling for every decade of life. I dont know how old you are, but if you are in your 20's thats 3 months of swelling, your 30's 4 months of swelling,etc. Ten weeks is a little early for final results. Ask how much was removed. Many times a picture was taken of the aspirated fat, which will give you evidence of what was removed. Look at you before pictures and compare to now, this can be helpful.

Good luck

Eric Weiss MD

Eric Weiss, MD, FACS
Orange Park Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Swelling after lipo

Hi question

I don't know the history of how/why you lost trust in your doctor.

There isn't a single way to know about swelling, however, swelling tends to feel different from fat.  Hard to explain but fat is softer, and if you push hard on areas with a lot of swelling, it can leave a depression.

With experience, the doctor knows that swelling with lipo takes about a year or longer to resolve.  Most swelling resolves in the first 3 months, and after that, it resolves very slowly.

My concern is that you have some some loose skin, which I hope shrinks down with time.

All the best.


Scott E. Kasden, MD, FACS
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 101 reviews

#liposuction #abdominoplasty both a liposuction and an abdominoplasty

My comment is based on looking at your photos and not having seen your preoperative photos. I am seeing excess skin. I would guess you would need to consider a formal abdominoplasty. Wait 6 months post operative for all swelling to resolve.

Jack Peterson, MD
Topeka Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Liposuction - swelling or fat?

Thank you for asking about your liposuction.

  • This is a common and frustrating problem.
  • You will be swollen for at least 6 months - that is just how the body heals.
  • Without a before/after photo, one can't common on what your surgeon has removed.
  • The loose skin will collect the swelling - gravity pulls it down.
  • However you do need to lose about 10 pounds after surgery to keep fat from returning to new areas.
  • And if you have gained weight, fat can return to the area of liposuction.
  • Your surgeon's operative note will tell you how much was removed -
  • There will always be some remaining fat, but in the photo, the chief concern is the excess skin.
  • If it remains after six months, you will probably want that skin excess removed.

Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Best wishes  - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Elizabeth Morgan, MD, PhD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Most swelling is normal for 3-6 months

Noticeable swelling is normal for 3-6 months, and even some minor swelling can persist for up to a year. If you continue to be unhappy with your result, I urge you to keep talking with your plastic surgeon about your concerns. Open communication is important. Generally speaking, you may find you are happier with the result as the swelling continues to go down over the next several months. Best of luck.

Adam L. Basner, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

How do you know there is swelling after lipo and not just fat left over? What do you look for?

Swelling post liposuction generally leaves the skin firm to the touch and not really pinch-able. Once the swelling is resolved, you skin will feel soft and back to pre surgery feel. 

Lawrence Bundrick, MD
Huntsville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

How do you know there is swelling after lipo and not just fat left over? What do you look for?

At 10 weeks after liposuction you should be able to see a good glimpse of the final result. You will have swelling for up to a year but after 3 months or so it's intermittent in nature and related to level of activity and diet. We can tell when we examine you if there is edema or swelling. There is no reason for your PS to lie (it also makes me sad that you chose a PS that you don't fully trust) you have to wait anyway as no PS will do any sort of revision on someone who is only 10 weeks post op. From your photos it looks like you would benefit from a tummy tuck. It might be the loose skin that is making you unhappy with the results. 

Erika Sato, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 90 reviews

Still Swollen!

Patients will have swelling 3-6 months after liposuction. It is too early to tell what your final results however, you really were not a candidate for liposuction alone and you need skin removal.   I do recommend adding RF treatments (Venus Legacy, Exilis, Ultra, Vanquish) along with shock/vibration therapy Cellutone/z wave and hyperbaric oxygen and compression in order to decrease swelling and improve results. Best, Dr. Emer

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 190 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.