Hardness in Abdomen After Tumescent Liposuction

I had Tumescent Liposuction 12 days ago in the upper and lower abdomen. I'm currently experiencing hardness in the whole upper and lower abdominal regions. An OB-GYN performed the procedure. I was told to massage the areas vigorously across both areas while in the shower. Is that enough or should I insist on other treatment? The areas are quite large and I am very concerned. I have voiced those concerns with my physician and she insists that I need to keep working the area. Please advise.

Doctor Answers 10

Hardness & Swelling Following Liposuction

Patients undergoing tumescent liposuction will often develop swelling, firmness, pain and hardness of the abdomen following this procedure.  During the procedure, the liposuction cannula is passed through the subcutaneous tissue.  This causes disruption of the lymphatic channels and cellular injury.

Significant improvement in hardness and swelling can be seen in the first three weeks following surgery, with the majority gone in about three months.  Small amounts of firmness may persist up to a year following surgery.

We generally recommend the use of compression support garments for about three weeks following surgery.  We also recommend a low salt diet before and after liposuction.  Exercise is usually started early in the post-operative period, and we want patients to ambulate as soon as possible following surgery.

Massage is also helpful, it decreases firmness, hardness and swelling by mobilizing retained fluid following liposuction.  All of these steps minimize firmness and swelling and improve the patient’s aesthetic result.  Compression massage, ambulation, and low salt intake will all shorten the recovery period.

Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Hard lumps early after liposuction is common

Hard lumps for up to 3-4 months after liposuction is extremely common. The vast majority of these will resolve on their own but massage may help. Some emply the use of external ultrasound but I would definitely avoid any additioanl surgery at this point.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 82 reviews

Massage the areas as advised

Most of the swelling will be gone in 2-3 weeks, but some firmness can last for a couple of months. You can assess your results at about the three or four month mark. You can try massaging the area with your surgeon's advice.

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 179 reviews

Hardness after tumescent liposuction

After twelve days the skin will swell and stiffen often with some resulting bruise. Massage too soon can cause soreness and inflammation though gently massage in the shower should be fine. It will take several months for softening and full healing and revision is out of the question. Your experience is normal and time and your compression garment should help.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Hardness after liposuction

At only 12 days post-op, it's almost entirely likely that what you are feeling is related to temporary swelling.  This is totally normal at this stage, and will subside over the next few weeks.

Massage is very helpful....do as much as you can on the swollen firm areas.

tip:  A clean rolling pin (from the kitchen) makes a good massager!

Thomas Fiala, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 80 reviews

Liposuction recovery

Fullness of the tissue is a normal response after liposuction.  The degree of fullness and edema can mark the difference between normal and abnormal.  Only a physical examination can help demarcate whether this is normal, or a response to infection. 

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Hardness in liposuction of the abdomen

Liposuction is extremely popular and effective technique for body contouring. After the procedure, patients may expect to experience swelling, firmness, and mild drainage from the liposuction incisions. This is your healing process and is always in the range of normal. If you have a hard mass or a large mass that feels tense, your best bet is to return to your plastic surgeon and have them assess you. This mass may be swelling but may also be a collection of fluid. Your plastic surgeon will be able to determine the difference and may recommend massage, compression, or even a small drainage if it appears to be a fluid mass.

Pat Pazmino, MD, FACS
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 108 reviews

Tumescent Lipo

Firmness in the area is common and this should subside in 4-6 weeks.  We treat our post op patients with Vshape, Sshape, Vasershape and this improves their tissue firmness.

Vivek Bansal, MD
Danville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews


At 12 days, the hardness you are experiencing can be due to several things so without actual examination it's hard to diagnose. Regardless, another liposuction procedure is not what you need right now. Since you say an OB-GYN performed the procedure and not a board certified plastic surgeon it might not be a bad idea to consult with an American Board of Plastic Surgery certified plastic surgeon in your area, just to have another opinion. You can find someone by going to www.plasticsurgery.org.

Edmond A. Zingaro, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Liposuction lumps will probably resolve with time and massage

At only 12 days, you probably just have edema and bruising in the fat. These should resolve over the next few weeks with massage.

Just curious though - if you knew your doctor was an OB GYN, why did you let her do liposuction on you? There are many fine real plastic surgeons in SC and now you have to worry if the problem you have was caused because she has never been formally trained to do plastic surgery.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 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.