Still Suffering from Swelling and Inflamation 5 Monts Post-Op from Abdominal Liposuction

I had a liposuction on the up and abdominal part of my stomach almost 5 month ago, but I am still having inflammations, swollenness and lack of feeling and sensation right below the belly button for maybe 5 inches wide and around it. I am very worried about, but when I ask my doctor, he is saying that I have to wait a little more time. Please advice!

Doctor Answers 9

Normal healing

Everything you describe can be normal and you will likely do very well after the healing period which can still take time.  Gentle swelling and persistent numbness can last even a year or so, but should be continually improving.  If things get worse in any way, it becomes important to be evaluated by your physician.

Santa Barbara Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Prolonged swelling with liposuction

I tell my patients that the swelling after liposuction may take up to 6 months to resolve. It should be improving though and the inflammation should be clearing up. It may simply need more time but it there is still a lot of swelling and inflammation, perhaps there might be something else going on, such as a seroma. I don't mean to alarm you, and I am not able to diagnose here, but there has been an increased incidence of acid fast, non-TB, bacillus related infections after liposuction. I agree that Laser or Vaser assisted liposuction has the risk of increased tissue damage when used aggressively. If you are not satisfied with the answers, than consider a 2nd opinion from a board certified plastic surgeon with expertise in liposuction. 

David R. Stephens, MD
Bellevue Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

5 Months after Liposuction with Swelling and Numbness

  It is not unreasonable to give more time at 5 months for swelling to resolve.  The numbness may take much longer and sometimes this can be permanent.  Some of this will depend upon the volume of liposuction as larger volume liposuctions tend to take longer to heal.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 492 reviews

Swelling 5 months after liposuction

Thank you for your question about your liposuction recovery. My thoughts -

  • Swelling in a half inch area below the belly button is common.
  • Numbness may take 18 months to go away.
  • Your 'swelling' may be fat that was not removed. 
  • If the area is red and sore, something is not right. It sounds like infection or fat necrosis. Your surgeon needs to figure this out. Or you need a new surgeon. Hope this helps!

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

Post operative changes after liposuction

I tell all of my patients that while I expect pain, numbness, and firmness due to inflammation to go away by 3-6 months after surgery, this can last longer in some people. Heavy activity and not wearing your surgical garment after surgery can exaggerate the symptoms. It's uncommon but possible to damage nerves with liposuction, and if a damaged nerve is causing numbness it can take up to a year or two to recover completely. It may cause itching, burning, or other types of discomfort while it is recovering.


Some patients and physicians use massage or ultrasound to treat areas before and after surgery to minimize swelling and inflammation. You should ask your doctor if that is a safe option for you. You need to make sure that it is just general swelling and not a fluid collection (called a seroma) causing the swelling first. Be patient, but do wear a light garment (like spanx) to minimize discomfort and swelling in the meantime.


Best of Luck

Dana Goldberg, MD
Jupiter Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Swelling and numbness five months after abdominal liposuction

This is unusual in my experience to last this long following traditional tumescent liposuction.  However, with ultrasound assisted or laser assisted liposuction that heats and "melts" the fat cells, it is possible for these symptoms to last longer.  You should discuss your concerns with your surgeon regarding the type of liposuction used.  If you are not satisfied, then get a second opinion form an American Board of Plastic Surgery board certified plastic surgeon.

Todd C. Case, MD
Tucson Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

Abdominal liposuction at 5 months

Usually with traditional liposuction the numbness and inflammation subside by this time. However, some of the other techniques that heat the tissues may cause persistent issues for a longer time.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Postop swelling and numbness after liposuction

Hello lusha, thanks for your question.  Depending on several factors such as the extent of liposuction performed, if there were any concomitant procedures done, and your comorbidities (diabetes, smoking, etc), it is still possible to have some symptoms at 5 months postop.  Although most symptoms from conservative standard liposuction alone should be settled down in the first few months, if a large volume of liposuction is performed (>5liters) or if fat emulsifying techniques such as ultrasound or laser liposuction is performed, these can disrupt the superficial sensory nerves to a greater extent and can lead to prolonged inflammation that could last many months.  If you liposuction was combined with a tummy tuck procedure where the abdominal flap is elevated and nerves disrupted to a greater extent, then I tell my patients that it is very common to have numbness, especially below the belly button, which could potentially be permanent.  One thing that should be ruled out with persistent swelling and inflammation is a postop seroma or hematoma fluid collection, which can occur after liposuction.  Although most smaller collections gradually go away with pressure garment use, sometimes patients need an additional surgery to evacuate the fluid and excise the seroma capsule that could form.  Hopefully you went to a board-certified plastic surgeon to have your procedure done, who should be well-educated and adept at handling these postop issues.  Hope that helps!- Dr.92660.

Parviz Goshtasby, MD, FACS
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Recovery at 5 months post abdominal liposuction

Minor changes in sensation and slight swelling, especially after exercise, would be typical 5 months after traditional liposuction.  If you had 'laser' liposuction or some other energy-based device was used to destroy fat cells, your healing process may be prolonged.  Inflammation describes redness, heat, pain and swelling- if these are present you should ask your surgeon about these features, and if you remain concerned, perhaps get a second opinion from a board certified plastic surgeon.

Michael Kreidstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 32 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.