Recovery from Tumescent Liposuction?

I am still extremely sore and swollen 3 weeks after abdominal Tumescent Liposuction, which I heard had the shortest recovery.

I am so uncomfortable at night, I have been removing my compression garment. How long can I expect this pain to last, and am I doing any damage by removing the garment at night?

Doctor Answers 3

Pain From Compression Garment

Your Garment may be too tight if causing pain. If so you need one that fits properly or if OK with your surgeon no longer use one.  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. For Small or moderate amounts of liposuction it probably doesn't make a difference if a garment is used or not.

Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 154 reviews

Liposuction healing

At three weeks after liposuction, a tight fitting garment may not be necessary. I often recommend that my patients just use the garment for when they feel they need extra support or for those instances when it seems to provide some comfort. If it is at all uncomfortable, then I would not wear it. I also recommend a department store type girdle or garment after the first week as these oftern provide plenty of support and are more comfortable than the post-op surgical garment.

Light exercise - such as light walking - may improve healing by increasing circulation. I would not do anything that is uncomfortable so adjust your pace and your activity to your comfort level.

Some patients have relief from very light massage using a hand held massager and light pressure. Avoid excessive heating pad (no more than 30 minutes at a time and only low setting) as this can cause a reddish-brown discoloration to the skin.

Elizabeth F. Rostan, MD
Charlotte Dermatologist
4.2 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

I'm sure you're on track

Tumescent liposuction is the best form of liposuction. But the recovery is not overnight. If it were than not much surgery was done. So take heart the first three weeks are the worst. I have my patients wear their garments 23 hours per day for the first 3 weeks then 12 hours per day for the second 3 weeks. The garment helps the skin to shrink and the edema to subside. You will even continue to see results up to 6 months after surgery. It might be uncomfortable now but the results will be worth it.

Christopher L. Hess, MD
Fairfax Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 33 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.