Liposuction on Upper Arms 1 Week Ago- Swelling and Fluid Make Compression Garment Uncomfortable, Is This Ok?

Almost one week ago, I had liposuction done on my upper arms. My arms are too swollen and filled with fluid to apply the compression garment....what should I do? The Dr. first said to "make sure to wear the garment" but my arms hurt and are bruised. The incisions have already healed and no longer draining. Every time I call the Dr office they are saying not to worry and to find someone that does massage lymphatic drainage, and they are not sure when the compression garments will be delivered.

Doctor Answers 6

Liposuction Aftercare?

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 Thank you for the question.

It sounds like you're postop care is not being managed as carefully as it should be;  It may be in your best interest to see your plastic surgeon earlier than scheduled for evaluation and recommendations. Request this follow-up appointment. Online consultants cannot provide the specific  help you need.

Best wishes.

Care after surgery

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Your post is not clear. First you say you are too swollen to apply the compression garments then you say the garments have not arrived yet. I cannot understand why your surgeon did not apply the garment at the conclusion of surgery which is the normal practice. You need to be seen by your surgeon sooner rather than later and you need to talk to him or her not their office staff. Get the surgical aftercare you paid for when you paid for the surgery.

My response to your question/post does not represent formal medical advice or constitute a doctor patient relationship. You need to consult with i.e. personally see a board certified plastic surgeon in order to receive a formal evaluation and develop a doctor patient relationship.

Aaron Stone, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Poor Fitting Garment Can Cause Problems

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It sounds like your garment is not the right fit for you. See your plastic surgeon to remedy this situation. Compression garments type and when applied varies from plastic surgeon to plastic surgeon and not dependent usually on the type of lipo performed. In my practice, A compression garment placed in surgery immediately after liposuction (steristrip protects the sutures) is recommended and beneficial after liposuction because:
  1. It restricts the amount of edema that forms and hastens its resolution by mechanical pressure.
  2. It decreases the amount of bruising.
  3. It assists the loose skin in retracting or shrinking.
If bulging ridges above or below, creases or bands are present then you probably need to change garments - see your plastic surgeon.
It is common to have weight gain due to edema, serum that collects in the area, and the tumescent fluid that was injected. This will resolve over time. The more you wear the garment initially, the quicker this fluid resolves.
Edema: a condition characterized by an excess of watery fluid collecting in the cavities or tissues of the body.
The length of time that the garment should be worn varies depending on the amount of fat removed, the elastic nature of your skin, how much loose skin remains, and other factors. Your surgeon would give you the best advice, however this is the general routine for my patients.
The first garment should be fitted for you in the office prior to surgery and applied in the operating room. Often it will become loose as the edema is mobilized, and then it will need to be replaced. Spanx is a reasonable compression garment if it gives enough support and is the right size. I have my patents bring them in so I can confirm that it fits well.
Most important advice is to listen to your surgeon, as he or she knows how much fat was removed, the elasticity that remains in your skin, and amount of skin redundancy.
I recommend that my patients wear their garments for a minimum of three weeks full time then for twelve hours at a time (day or night). If there is not a lot of redundant skin, this continues to a maximum of six weeks.
To be effective, the garment needs to fit snugly—but not too tight as that can make it difficult to sleep or cause pressure problems (inspect your skin when it is exposed if you are uncomfortable). As the edema resolves it is common for patients to switch to a smaller garment that fits. A Spanx-type garment would work fine, rather than ordering one or paying more at your doctor’s office.

Too swollen for compression garments

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Thank you for your post.  Without more details it is hard to answer, however, I believe that if you are too swollen for the garments, you need to be evaluated to make sure that there are no hematomas or seromas present or that the garment was incorrectly sized in the first place.  The compression garment should feel snug but not overbearing to where your limbs hurt.  Furthermore, make sure that when you put it on, there are no wrinkles in the garment and that your skin underneath does not fold over on itself.  I hope that you resolve your swelling issues soon.  Please give us a follow up on this site.

Arm liposuction

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It sounds like from your description that you need to get better instructions and direction from your doctor. You should probalby go in to see him/her.

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

Swollen Arms

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If there is water under the skin (a feeling like a waterbed) then your surgeon may have to drain this fluid in their office.  However, this is very rare in the arms.  If you are concerned at all, then you need to go to your doctor for an evaluation.  If you have trouble putting on the garment or do not have one, you can easily go to any drug store and get a few ACE wraps and have someone help you wrap them around your arms to give slight compression.  It is also very helpful to keep your arms elevated on a few pillows.


Good Luck.

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.