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How long is liposuction recovery?

Liposuction recovery is relatively swift due to the relatively straightforward nature of the surgery.

Tagged: Recovery & Aftercare

Author: Mr. Bryan Mayou, MB ChB FRCS

Date: 11th December 2020

Medically Reviewed by:  Mr. Bryan Mayou (GMC: 1414396)

Last reviewed: 1st February 2024

Liposuction healing time is swift in comparison to some other procedures, due to the relatively straightforward nature of the surgery.

Recovery from your Liposuction surgery starts the moment you come around from your anaesthetic. All general anaesthetic procedures at Cadogan Clinic are carried out using TIVA (Total Intravenous Anaesthetic) to ensure that you wake up quicker and with less chance of nausea.

We recommend taking a week off work to allow for any bruising and swelling to subside. Pain should be fairly minimal and you can usually resume normal daily activities and exercise within 6-8 weeks. Strenuous activities are discouraged during this period. Light walking before your procedure prevents blood clotting and minimises swelling.

The Liposuction healing process involves minimal pain, but any excess pain can be managed with over the counter painkillers. You will be issued with a compression garment to reduce the swelling, and this should be worn for 6 weeks.

Liposuction recovery time is usually finally complete from around 6 weeks when your Lipo results should start to be visible. Full results will take between 3-6 months to show.

What does the Cadogan Clinic recommend for liposuction recovery?

Although recovery timelines after Liposuction are not usually very long, Cadogan Clinic recommends total rest for the first 3-5 days when healing from Liposuction. It is crucial that you wear a compression garment during your post Lipo recovery to support healing and allow for the best results possible, as well as the redistribution of the remaining fat cells in the treated area.

A number of side effects should be expected following Liposuction. It is common to experience one or more of the following: 

  • Bruising and swelling, which may last up to six months 
  • Numbness, which should go away in 6 to 8 weeks 
  • Scarring 
  • Inflammation of the treated area, or the veins underneath 
  • Fluid coming from the cuts 
  • Swollen ankles (if the legs or ankles are treated) 

Anyone who has undergone Liposuction should avoid prolonged exposure to UV light in the treated area for 2-4 weeks. 
One week after your surgery, you will come in to see our specialist cosmetic nurses, who will examine your incisions and answer any questions you have. Our nursing team are on hand 24/7 to provide any post Liposuction care you may need. 

You will also have a final check-up with their surgeon six weeks after the procedure. 

What is the fastest way to recover from liposuction?

The fastest way to recover from any procedure involving Liposuction is to follow all of the aftercare instructions given by your surgeon and nursing team. 

A friend or relative must accompany you after the procedure. Some patients may be asked to take antibiotics immediately after treatment to reduce the risk of infection. Due to the general anaesthetic, you will not be able to drive for a minimum of 24 hours. It is important to check with your insurance provider when you can start driving again, as this varies. 

A compression garment, which covers the entire treated area, must be worn for several weeks after undergoing Liposuction to aid the recovery process. Wearing this helps to reduce swelling and bruising, and also maintains your surgical result. You will be asked to wear this garment day and night for up to 8 weeks, but can remove it for short periods, to shower for example. 

You must avoid strenuous activity for 4-6 weeks after undergoing Liposuction. This is to prevent fluid from collecting in the surgical area and damage to your incisions during your liposuction recovery. 

Once home following the procedure, you will have access to the Cadogan Clinic's dedicated on-call nursing team 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This team of specialists are dedicated to patient comfort and pain control and are there to field any questions in the immediate post-operative phase. 

The results of the procedure are not always noticeable until the swelling has gone down. In some cases, this can take a few months. 

How long should I take off work after liposuction?

We recommend that a patient takes at least a week off work following a Liposuction procedure. 

Exactly when a patient returns to work will depend on a number of factors, such as the type of job they do and how much of the body was treated. Patients who have had Liposuction in a more visible area, such as the face, may wish to stay away from work for slightly longer, until their incisions have healed more fully. 

This will also affect when a person is allowed to drive following Liposuction. Your surgeon will discuss this with you during your consultation, and may advise speaking with your insurance provider for further information. 

How long does liposuction pain last?

Most patients who have undergone Liposuction find the pain is very manageable and any residual pain should disappear within 3-5 days. Most patients take mild over the counter painkillers during Lipo recovery to help with any pain. 

Any patient who needs advice or guidance on pain relief can contact the Cadogan Clinic's 24-hour on-call nursing team. 

Is recovery different depending on the area of the body treated with liposuction?

Your surgeon will discuss what you can expect during your specific Liposuction recovery as part of your consultation. Depending on the method of Liposuction used and the areas of your body you are having treated, your recovery may look slightly different. 

Some patients find that Vaser Lipo recovery is not quite as long and is slightly easier than other methods of Liposuction, however this depends on the extent of your surgery and the areas you have had treated.  

Different areas of the body may require surgical garments to be worn following your procedure (or no garment at all). As it is a very small area, and Liposuction can be performed under local anaesthetic, Chin Lipo recovery tends to be very easy: 

  • No surgical garment is required 
  • You can expect to be recovered within 2-3 weeks 
  • As there is generally little pressure around the lower face, you won’t have to adapt many day to day activities for a long period of time 
  • Some patients do find eating crunchy food slightly uncomfortable for the first few days of recovery, so you may wish to stick to a soft diet 

Areas such as the arms and the inner thighs are more extensive surgeries and the recovery timelines may be longer, with more aftercare factors to consider. Arm Lipo recovery involves:  

  • A garment which covers the areas of the arms that were treated - these need to be worn as much as possible, day and night for up to 8 weeks to aid healing and support your arms, preventing swelling.  
  • It is important to avoid any heavy lifting to prevent any excessive pressure on your incisions. Although you will be asked to avoid strenuous exercise after any Liposuction procedure, your surgeon may emphasise not doing any activities which strain the arms after Liposuction in this area 
  • The overall recovery time should be 4-6 weeks 

Inner Thigh Lipo recovery can be more involved as this is an area which takes more pressure on a daily basis and naturally contains a high level of fat 

  • Full inner thigh liposuction recovery timeline is 6-8 weeks 
  • You will need to wear a surgical garment day and night for at least 8 weeks. This garment looks like a pair of shorts and protects the thigh area, aids healing and prevents swelling 
  • Your surgeon will ask you to avoid any activities or exercise which put strain on your thighs for up to 4 weeks. Gentle walking is encouraged to prevent blood clots. 
  • You may find that moving too quickly or sitting down for long periods is uncomfortable. You will need to factor this into your recovery period and ensure you make changes to allow for this. 

Review our liposuction before and after gallery for some examples of our liposuction patient outcomes.  

Words From Our Founder

Mr. Bryan Mayou

Recovery time following Liposuction varies depending on the treated areas. Patients are advised to wear a compression garment to support healing and reduce swelling. Due to the small incisions used in Liposuction, recovery is often relatively quick, with most individuals fully recovered within 6 weeks. Our clinic emphasises post-operative care and support, ensuring patients have a smooth recovery process and achieve optimal results from their Liposuction procedure. It is my priority to continue focusing on the best ways to recover following Liposuction surgery and offering high-quality aftercare in our clinic.
Mr. Bryan Mayou

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