I had liposuction done on my ankles, knees (inner and top) and calves on Thursday February 28, 2013. I have had lipo on my inner and outer thighs and inner knees and I had prepped myself for the same amount of pain. I was SO wrong. This procedure was much much worse.
I had Friday - Monday off work and unfortuately on Tuesday I was beginning a new job. I work at a law firm so I had to show up, dressed well, and begin interacting in a professional environment. It was easiliy the hardest thing I've ever done. My legs were so painful, I couldn't walk, my clothes didn't fit, and I was miserable.
I wanted to write this review, not to shy people away from having the proceedure done, but just for people to be more aware. This is what my experience was.
The first Friday and Saturday we had company visiting and I did not want to tell them what happened, so I tried to pretend I had a really bad workout. (Which I'm sure was painfully obvious that I was lying.) My legs were unable to straighten, so I had to walk bow legged (as if I just got off a horse) on my tip toes. Not to mention, I was walking at about the pace of a 98 year old. From previous experience, I decided not to dabble in controlled pain relievers so I used a bit of hydrocodone and then on day 2 I switched over to Tylenol.
Sunday and Monday I was able to lay low all day, which definitely helped in my recovery, but I certainly wasn't ready to go to work. The simpelest tasks like going to the bathroom felt like running a marathon. It was incredibly painful to move myself around and my legs hurt to the touch from the swelling.
Unfortunately, I didn't have much leaking from the swelling. One incision on my calf drained a bit and one incision on my knee drained a bit, but had I been thinking clearly - I would have worked to press fluid out (even if it's painful) while my incisions were still open. I'm 4.5 weeks out and the places that drained have been healing so much faster than the places that did not.
I worked Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and every minute of every day felt like hell. My work was kind enough to let me elevate my legs during training sessions, and we even have a wellness room that I took advantage of a few times, but all day all I could think about was going home and getting into bed.
Thursday night I went to my follow up appointment and basically cried to my doctor about how much pain I was in. Finally he gave me a few options that REALLY seemed to help, which made me want to write this post in the first place.
a. He wrote me a perscription for a diuretic, only under the understanding that in a regular day I drink 200oz of water.
b. He approved me to start taking epson salt baths. I'd soak for about 30-45 minutes, and I always felt much less stress after that.
c. He encouraged I take arnica cream and tablets more seriously.
d. He decided that due to my acitvity (the fact that I was back to work, not laying in bed) I was lower for a risk of blood clots so he allowed me to begin taking ibuprofen.
e. He encouraged massages to help with swelling and healing.
I went home from the appointment with a new hope that I could actually make it through the next few days. While I was at Target buying Epson salts and getting my perscription filled, I found some small, extra strength ace bandages with a velcro fastener on the end. I decided to put one around my ankle, and you would not believe the relief I felt. Without hesitation I bought 3 of them. One for each ankle/foot, and one for my calf that hadn't drained. (That leg was and still is much much more painful). Having the support around my ankles, and the tighter compression helped me so much. I finally felt stable enough to walk better and the swelling started to go down!!!!!
Friday at work was a bit better but due to some last minute deadlines I ended up working until 8pm so I felt like I was going to die. I spent the rest of the weekend couped up, elevating my legs, taking salt baths and trying to massage my painful legs.
By Monday I was feeling "better". At this point, "better" is relative, as I am 4.5 weeks out and still do not feel near normal. The mornings were and are still the worst. It feels like piercing pain for the blood to flow into your legs after having them elevated all night long. Getting up to shower or go to the bathroom just about wiped me out for the morning. The pain in my legs was so intense that putting my compression garment on usually took about 20 minutes and then afterwards I needed to lay back down to feel better.
At this point, I was about 10 days post op. When I had lipo on my inner/outer thighs, there was nowhere near this much pain. I was able to fake it around friends, family and co-workers just fine within 2 days of surgery. With this surgery I kept on waiting for a miraculous recovery where one morning I woke up and felt better, but I'm just not there yet.
My leg that didn't drain is still so painful that I can't straighten it (or stand flat on my feet) until I've been awake for about an hour. I still walk with a limp and I can't even imagine exercising (beyond walking my dog). I am still wearing my compression garments 24 hours a day. The feeling in my legs comes and goes, and the tingling hurts and is annoying, but it's starting to go away. I make my husband massage my legs at night, especially the hard knots that have been forming on my outter calf which seems to be helping. I also have been using a foam roller to try to work out my swelling and pain. It's super painful but it seems to be helping.
My incisions on the back of my calves look horrible, they're all scabbed up and gross but my doctor warned me not to touch them - to let my body heal on it's own and the scars will go away. The incisions on the top of my knees are barely noticable.
I can definitely tell a difference and I have seen a difference since day one. Even with all of the swelling and distortion (lumps and bumps) from the compression garments, I love my results.
At 4.5 weeks out I think I am going to buy some athletic compression socks and start using the stair stepper/elliptical and start working myself back into running. I have a vacation with some sight seeing which will be 12 weeks post op and I'm hoping I'll be able to walk around with minimum swelling and pain.
At this point I'd say it was definitely worth it, I just wish I had been more prepared going into it. I scheduled the appointment on a whim due to a cancellation, the fact that I was changing jobs (and worried I wouldn't have time off for awhile) and the fact that summer was approaching. I decided to just get it over with, and while i'm on this side of it, I wish I had been more prepared going into it.
If I could do it again, I'd make sure i had a full week off work. I still wonder if I helped or hurt my healing process by being up and about so soon afterwards. I'd also start taking arnica tablets a week or so prior to surgery. I'd have ace bandages ready for right when I got home from surgery. My feet swelled up and bruised so bad, I think I could have avoided this with the ace bandages.
I have 2 weeks left of compression garments full time, but I may continue to wear them for comfort beyond that. I still don't feel anywhere near normal and I want to make sure I heal all the way.
I hope this was somewhat helpful to anybody considering this procedure. I'm thrilled with the results, I've worked out my entire life trying to get better calves and knees and it wasn't working. So the pain was definitely worth it, I just wish I had been mentally prepared.