What is the recovery process and downtime like after liposuction in Singapore?
I am considering liposuction. What is the recovery process like after liposuction, and what is the downtime like? (ie in terms of estimated back to work/exercise timeframe). Thanks!
Thank you for your question. I walk my patients through this pre-operatively before every liposuction so I will be happy to share this with you too. You can also check out a patient’s journey after liposuction on DxD.
Liposuction is a technique that involves using a hollow-tube like instrument (cannula) to suck fat out from the body. There are now many different liposuction machines available; such as manual, suction-assisted, power-assisted or VASER (which is ultrasound assisted) and Water Jet (which uses water to break up the fat). Nonetheless, they all serve the same function and have similar downtimes. I use an advanced technique called S.A.F.E Lipo which stands for separation, aspiration and fat equalisation. This is not a sale gimmick but a technique that allows the surgeon to suck maximal fat whilst minimising irregularities. Since adopting this method first described by Dr. Simeon Wall, I have found that the liposuction takes a shorter time and patients have less irregularities after liposuction.
Post-liposuction - Top 5 FAQs
1.Can I go home on my own after the operation?
It is recommended to have someone bring you home safely as the anaesthesia or sedation from the procedure can cause you to be drowsy. You may be able to drive 24-48 hours after the procedure.
2. What do I expect to feel after liposuction?
On the first day, you will likely be numb from the sedation or anaesthetic, but once that wears off, the areas that were treated will be swollen and tender. You should feel a dull ache and this can be easily managed with painkillers. You are likely to experience more pain and swelling on the second and third days, so be sure to take your painkillers. This is also to enable you to continue moving (walking) around, which encourages circulation. The pain usually improves after Day 3 and the swelling will start to subside. If you have bruises, these will usually take 10 days to fade.
If you are given antibiotics, be sure to finish the course as these will help to prevent any post-operative infections. Occasionally, you may also be prescribed medication to help with your nausea or swelling.
3.Why do I need to wear a pressure garment?
The most important piece of post-operation liposuction care is your pressure garment. Ensure that you wear them as prescribed. You will need to wear the garments for a minimum of 8 weeks, and if you can manage it for 12 weeks, that’s even better. Results are obvious after liposuction but the body needs time to heal and “remodel” itself after the procedure. With the removal of excess fat, the skin has to reattach to the muscle and keeping the areas compressed ensure that the skin will be as firm as it can be.
4. What are the usual home care instructions given by the doctor?
These are some of the things you can do:
Rest as much as you can at home.
Avoid strenuous activity but walking is encouraged as it promotes circulation to the limbs, which helps in the healing process.
Drink lots of water.
Reduce salt intake as it is known to cause swelling in the body.
Cultivate good sleeping habits, which help to maintain a healthy body.
5. When can I return to work or start exercising?
Depending on the type of work or activity you do, most people are able to return to sedentary work after 1 or 2 days but they will still be aching so I normally get my patients to rest at home for a few days until they are comfortable.
Patients are advised to wait about 2 weeks before resuming strenuous activity. However, if something feels uncomfortable, give it another day before starting on the exercises. Whilst the fat is permanently removed, the healing process requires patience. Rigorous exercise before your body is ready can affect results by prolonging bruising or swelling.
I hope this answers your question. Have a great week ahead and all the best!
Dr. Terence Goh
The information provided is purely for educational purposes and does not constitute medical advice or create any physician/patient relationship. Results may vary between individuals.
Hi Kimy, thanks for your question!
The recovery process and downtime will depend on how extensive the liposuction is and on the individual.
Recovery process for full circumferential liposuction
If you undergo a full circumferential liposuction (such as liposuction of the whole back, frontal abdomen, hips, outer thighs and inner thighs), the recovery will be slightly longer.
The surgery time for such can go up to 4 to 5 hours, done under General Anesthesia in the hospital.
A minimum of 1 night stay is recommended.
Immediately after surgery, you would be given a pressure garment to wear to help reduce swelling and bruising. You would also be given medication for pain and anti-swelling.
You would then need to come back for a follow up visit to the clinic perhaps after 2 or 3 days after being discharged from the hospital.
During the follow up visit , you would be checked by the doctor and if there is any seroma (fluid pocket), it will be aspirated. You would also be taught how to do some light lymphatic drainage.
Your stitches would usually be removed within 4 days.
Bruising and swelling will usually subside within 7 to 10 days, and you can expect to start light exercise after 2 weeks.
Recovery for localized liposuction
If you were to undergo liposuction on a smaller area, such as localized area of hips, or thighs only , the recovery will bit faster. However, bruising or swelling will still take 7 to 10 days to subside.
Depending on how strong you are, you might feel strong and feel great the next day after surgery, or you might feel weaker (usually due to more extensive liposuction).
I normally recommend that pressure garments are worn close to 24 hrs a days for the 1st 2 weeks. After that, you can decrease the timing to 8 to 10 hrs for another 2 weeks or so.
I also tell my patients to continue lymphatic drainage for another month or so till the lipo area is smooth and not lumpy.
As for going back to work, it depends on what kind of work you do.
If your work is more desk bound, you should be able to get back to work after resting for up to 4 days.
If your work requires you to stand for long hours or run around, I would recommend that you take it easy on your 1st week to be ready back for work. As for exercising, most will be back to their routine within 10 days to 2 weeks.
After liposuction, the treated areas will be bruised and swollen. They will be tender to touch and there will be some pain on movement. The pain feels like a strenuous workout and is usually managed with painkillers. If the pain is very severe, it’s possible a haematoma or infection may have developed and you should seek a consultation with your surgeon.
The bruising will last for about 2 weeks. The swelling will last for about 1 month.
You will have small incisions that you should keep dry for the first 3 days. After that you can get them wet but avoid soaking them in water. You should avoid swimming for at least 1 week, but you probably wouldn’t want to go swimming with all the bruising anyway! You can start exercising by 1 week without restriction.
Getting back to work depends on your pain tolerance. You can get back as early as the next day if your pain tolerance is high and you don’t have a physically demanding job. But most would take a few days off to recover.