Liposuction - How Long Until You Can Be Sure No Complications Will Occur?

How long after a liposuction procedure you can tell that you did not have any complications, or that you are no longer in danger of complications occurring?

Doctor Answers 10

Liposuction complications are rare.

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Complications after a well planned, well preformed liposuction are rare.  If 7 days have passed and no problems have occurred, it is very unlikely any are going to occur.  The biggest potential problems which can occur with tumnescent liposuction are; 1) low blood pressure - if the surgeon properly replaces intravenous fluids according to the amount of fat aspirated during the surgery and follows the patients blood pressure and heart rate this can easily be avoided,  2) bleeding - infiltrating  tumnescent fluid into the tissues to be liposuctioned markedly decreases the blood loss at the time of surgery and after surgery.  While walking after surgery is very important to cut down on the risk of blood clots in the legs, more activity than this should be avoided to allow the tissues to heal well.  All patients have some amount of drainage, usually slightly bloody, from the holes used to insert the cannulas.  This is normal and stops after about 18 hours, 3) infection - once again, this should be rare if the patient is properly washed and draped, the surgery is done sterily and they receive correct antibiotic coverage before and after surgery. 

Depends - serious or minor?

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The answer depends if you are referring to life-threatening complications or minor complications. Serious complications present soon after surgery: Damage to deeper vital structures or bleeding would probably have presented within 2 days. Significant infections would have occurred within a week. Blood clots (DVT) within 10 days (walk after surgery!). These are the rare and "scary" complications that people would rightfully be concerned about. Have your liposuction done by someone with a decent amount experience and at an accredited surgical facility. The chance of causing damage to deep structures is dependent on the technical skill of the surgeon – so experience reduces that risk. Dangerous infections tend to result from breaks in sterile technique, hence accreditation is important, as it makes sure that appropriate sterility protocols are in place and enforced.

Minor complications can still occur further out from surgery. Seromas (fluid collections under the skin at the site of liposuction) can occur, but I would not expect these to occur if they had not presented by one month. To reduce the chance of seroma formation, I have my patients wear a compression garment and avoid strenuous exercise for 3 weeks after surgery, allowing the body to heal with minimal skin motion. In general, if you are happy with the result at 1 month, you are “out of the woods.” Results tend to improve as healing under the skin surface causes tightening up to 6 months from surgery. I hope this helps!

Chin or Neck liposuctions are done under local anesthesia so the risks are minimal

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Chin /neck liposuctions are done under local only so there aren't any big risks of any kind.  Minor bruising and swelling is minimal and expected. Cost is around $2500 and is so worth it.


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

Liposuction and complications

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The majority of major complications related to liposuction will more than likely occur in the first 2 weeks after surgery. This includes: infections, skin necrosis, seromas, deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism, etc.

Long term ( > 6 wks) may be minor contour irregularities, incisions that do not heal well, and numbness or dysesthesias that persist, etc.

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

Major complications from Liposuction are rare

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Generally major complications from Liposuction are rare.

The most major complications that can occur, happen within the first few hours to a day after Liposuction. Examples include the pulmonary embolism, where you get a blood clot or fat embolism that goes to the lungs and this can lead to very serious complications. Fortunately these are
extremely rare. Precautions are routinely taken during surgery to help prevent any complications. It is also important to diagnose this early to help prevent a tragic outcome.

Other complications that can occur as with any other surgery are infection. This can manifest itself
within a day to a week or so. Usually it will start out with the incision site being red, irritated,
inflamed with discharge. Or the skin overlying where the Liposuction was done turns red and
tender. When this happen again it is very important to get immediate medical care and get

Other complications such as fluid build up underneath the skin flaps or sometimes
very rarely blood build up may not show up immediately. It can take up to approximately 10 days for fluid or blood build up to show. These are related to how much volume was actually aspirated or sucked out from a particular area and how well the garment was fitted. Sometimes despite good care, someone will get some
fluid accumulation, and usually you will know by about two weeks.

Very late complications that can occur are contour irregularities, i.e. where the skin is not smooth and can have lumps and bumps that show up. And this usually manifest by about 3 months or so.

Usually in about three months or so, you should know if you will have any complications related to your Liposuction surgery.

Usha Rajagopal, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Recovery process after liposuction

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Liposuction is a safe, popular, and effective way to contour the body. However, like all surgeries, liposuction does have some risks. Immediately after the surgery, we inform all our patients that they should expect small amount of pink fluid drainage from the lack incisions. This may last for 2 to 3 days. We also provide all our patients with a tight compression garment that will compress the area that has been treated. In our experience, this is essential for the patient to get a consistent, beautiful, and smooth result. We also tell the patient that they should walk as much as possible after the surgery. This will open up their lungs, prevent some fevers, and increase their appetite. Patients commonly returned to work to three days after liposuction, wearing their compression garments. If you have had your liposuction two weeks before, you should relax and feel that you are out of the woods.

Chin liposuction is very safe and is performed under local anesthesia

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Liposuction of the chin, with or without use of the laser, can be performed with local anesthesia only. There is almost never a complication. Infection, fluid accumulation, and injury to the skin are possible, but I've never seen any of them. I'm sure they are frankly rare when the procedure is perfomed by a properly trained plastic surgeon.

Neck liposuction

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First: - if done with tumescent (local) anesthesia the risks of any severy side effect or complication are minimal. I find it most important for the patient to wear a neck sling after the procedure for 2-7 days to minimize bruising and for the skin to attach perfectly to the newly shaped neck.

Niels C. Krejci, MD
Boston Dermatologist

You know in 2 days if you are OK after liposuction.

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Two days after liposuction  (liposuction of the neck and chin, for example), you should only have some swelling and bruising, and a little discomfort.   If that's how you look and feel, you are not going to have complications.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

The first week is the riskiest after chin or neck liposuction

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On average, the first week is the riskiest time for complications of chin or neck liposuction. (This can be longer or shorter based on individual variations). Possible complications include blood clots, skin sloughing, infection and fluid or blood accumulation (hematoma or seroma). Long term problems like lumps and bumps, scar thickening and numbness are not considered true complications but rather adverse effects.

If you've passed the first week without the complications listed above and continue to FOLLOW YOUR DOCTORS ORDERS regarding use of a compression garment, avoiding strenuous exercise and avoiding blood thinners, you're not likely to develop complications after one week.

Jonathan Hoenig, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic 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.