What Should You Expect During the Recovery Process?
When patients leave the surgery facility to go home, they are usually groggy for about 12 hours or overnight. That is why it is very important to have someone who can assist you with getting around and taking your medications for at least the first 24 hours.
Make sure that you have all your medications, cold drinks, and towels at your bedside.
Most people are nauseated during the first 24-48 hours. To reduce this, we suggest that you take your nausea pill one hour before taking your pain pills or antibiotics. While it is good to drink plenty of liquids, please refrain from drinking plain water or acidic fruit juices because they will make you more nauseated.
Do not be alarmed when blood-tinged tumescent fluid oozes from your incision sites. This is a normal result of liposuction and usually stops within half a day. The surgeon leaves these tiny incisions exposed so that the liquid spills out, thereby minimizing bruising. You should cover your bed to avoid staining from this fluid.
"After I had liposuction on my love handles and on my hips, I felt really sore – a burning feeling as if I had worked exercised too much. My back especially would feel that way. But massaging the area a lot with oils and creams and applying heat was very helpful."
--Renee, age 35
There will be some swelling and some minimal bruising which dissipates five to eight weeks following surgery. Despite this swelling, you will be smaller than your original size. However, you should wait to buy new clothing until your size has stabilized.
Following liposuction surgery, you are placed in a support garment that covers all liposuctioned areas. Do not remove this until your doctor instructs you to do so. We usually have the patient remove their garment and to take a shower after 2 days. The first time that you remove your garment you will feel faint, which is normal. Have someone with you at that time. After your first shower you need to apply Vaseline or heavy lotion all over liposuctioned areas to alleviate the itchiness that is caused by the skin-drying effects of liposuction. This is a good time for you to start massaging the liposuctioned areas. You should massage these areas deeply about three times a days for about six weeks. Sometimes, patients whose skin was not firm and elastic will experience dimpling or wrinkling of the skin. These can be eliminated or minimized by massaging and early exercise.
All liposuctioned areas stay numb for four to eight weeks. Massage will help to desensitize your skin in order to avoid hypersensitivity or skin irritation. The most important way that a person can contribute to having a great result is by being meticulous about conducting massage.
Most patients will have ¼ inch incisions that will heal and become for the most part unnoticeable.
Patients will also feel a bruise-like or muscle cramp-like pain, particularly in the areas where fat was removed, and which will be addressed through a prescription from your surgeon. Antibiotics are prescribed to reduce the risk of infection.
Patients can hasten their recovery by moving as much as they can, to increase their circulation. Many will find this difficult, but should push themselves to take at least small steps. The walking will reduce your risk of blood clots. It is helpful to elevate the areas where you had liposuction, by placing pillows under those areas. Support garments should be worn 24 hours a day for three weeks, and then during the daytime for the next three weeks. This will help to reduce swelling, and to help shrink the skin.
How Painful Is Liposuction?
Because liposuction only involves the fat beneath the skin, and not entry into the abdominal cavity or cutting or tightening of muscles, most people describe it as feeling like a bad bruise. Others say that you might feel like you do after a heavy workout. For the majority of patients, liposuction is less painful than a C-section, hernia surgery, breast surgery, abdominal surgery or a hysterectomy.
When Can I Resume Work and Exercise?
Most patients can resume normal activities three to seven days following liposuction. You can even resume exercising within that time frame. However, you should resume activity only as is comfortable for you. You will probably be restricted as to lifting, pushing and pulling because your muscles will be bruised. Most patients return to work within a week, or less.
When Can I Resume Sexual Relations?
"I decided to have liposuction after a relentless cycle of losing and gaining weight. I couldn’t bend over and touch my toes because my stomach was in the way. Stretching to reach for things at my job was difficult too. But my husband didn’t want me to have the surgery – he said he loved me the way I was. It’s been a month since I had abdominal, hip and neck liposuction. I’m already much smaller and I’m motivated to stay on my diet and exercise. My husband is still reluctant to give me compliments or say that he’s glad that I did this. But he sees that I feel better about myself and he’s starting to come around."
--Janet, age 29
Liposuction does not hinder your ability to have sexual relations. However, you should resume sexual activity only as you feel comfortable in doing so. The desire to resume having sex varies from patient to patient.
How Will Liposuction Affect My Stamina?
As with any major surgery, liposuction will have an impact on your energy level. While you can resume normal activities within a week, you will experience variations in your stamina, sometimes from day to day. While there will be days when you feel as you did prior to surgery, you will not feel 100 percent yourself consistently in the four to six weeks following surgery. Sometimes you will feel a burst of energy, and sometimes you will feel exhausted, possibly without any warning. You should feel prepared for this ebb and flow in your stamina.
Liposuction is a transformation that not only alters your body, but it also changes your image of yourself, as well. It will also alter the way that others perceive you. You can make the best-- or worst of this -- as with any life-altering experience.
While achieving their desired figure is exciting for most people, there can also be a difficult adjustment period for patients, significant others and friends.
Sometimes a feeling of guilt accompanies achieving the desired results. Some patients, especially those who have devoted themselves to the needs of others before fulfilling their own needs, feel undeserving, or conflicted about investing in themselves. Many patients suffer due to the puritanical heritage of the United States. Taking steps to improve our looks is often seen as a selfish thing and is thus frowned upon. Issues also stem from our culture’s negative attitude towards aging. While other cultures revere the elderly, and the wisdom that accompanies age, our culture maligns the aging process, and any acknowledgement that we are getting older. Therefore, we face the pressure of having to look young in order to remain competitive among our peers.
"After I had liposuction, I returned to work within one week. There were times that I couldn’t stop crying, for no reason at all. My doctor prescribed an anti-depressant, and that helped me to get through it. Today, I feel like myself again, only better!"
--Cathy, age 25
Unlike women, men who have liposuction are more likely to keep their cosmetic surgery a secret because they are afraid to be perceived as being somehow "unmanly" to care about their appearance. Liposuction results can also pose a dilemma for spouses and significant others. Sometimes even those who love you will feel threatened by your new attractiveness. Others may feel jealousy.
Other significant emotional changes include depression and mood swings. These can result, both from the feelings described above, as well as chemical imbalances that may accompany the healing process following surgery. These emotions, while normal, should not be ignored and should be shared with your physician. Some patients benefit from having an anti-depressant prescription to ease them through this process.
Post-Operative Instructions from the Offices of Dr. Sean Younai:
You should make arrangements for a responsible adult friend or family member to take you home after surgery. You are not allowed to drive yourself home or take a taxi. After surgery, this cargiver is required to stay with you and to monitor and assist you for at least the first 24 hours after surgery. If you don’t have such a person, please let us know in advance so that we can help you make arrangements to stay at an after-care facility or hospital.
Rest as needed the day of and the day after surgery. You do not have to stay in bed. Gentle walking at home will help your circulation.
Make sure that you drink adequate amount of fluids so that you do not get dehydrated. You should also monitor your level of hydration by making sure that you are urinating "light-color" urine at least every four to six hours.
There are no dietary restrictions; however, you should refrain from eating greasy or acidic foods so that you will not get nauseated.
If you are diabetic, make sure to monitor your blood sugar level with a finger-stick or other usual means, three times per day, for the first 2 days.
For the first 24 hours after surgery you might have some blood-tinged drainage from surgical sites. This is expected.
After surgery you will be placed in a garment, which will be covering the areas liposuctioned. Do not remove garment until the first post-op visit. Keep the garment straight, in order to lessen dimpling of suctioned areas.
After your first visit with doctor, leave the garment on 24 hours a day for 3 weeks, removing it only to shower. Avoid hot showers, but warm water is acceptable. You can replace your garment at this time, as needed.
Start gentle fingertip massage (light kneading motion) to operated areas for 10-20 min., three times daily, for three to six weeks.
The fourth week after surgery, wear the garment during the day and remove it at nights to sleep. At this time you may purchase another garment at your local department store (i.e. J.C. Penny’s, Sears, Target). Make sure that the garment is not too constricting but tight enough to give you support.
Refrain from extraneous activities or exercising for the first two weeks. Although you can do gentle walking during this period, unless it is not a challenge for you.
After two weeks you can resume your exercise routine if you feel comfortable and strong enough.
If you are considering liposuction in Beverly Hills or Los Angeles contact board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Younai. The California Center for Plastic Surgery serves Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Hollywood, Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Calabasas, Woodland Hills, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Pasadena, Glendale, Valencia, Palmdale, Fresno, and Oxnard.