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What you need to know about liposuction:

Liposuction, or body contouring, is surgery to remove extra fat from under your skin.

How to prepare for liposuction:

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. He will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery. Do not take NSAIDs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, or blood thinners for 2 weeks before surgery, or as directed. You may need to bathe with an antiseptic medicine the night before, or the morning of, surgery. Arrange to have someone drive you home and stay with you to make sure you are okay.

What will happen during liposuction:

  • You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may instead be given local or regional anesthesia to numb the surgery area. With local or regional anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing during surgery, but you should not feel any pain. Small incisions will be made in several places, depending on the surgery area. Saline (saltwater solution) with numbing and blood clotting medicine will be injected under your skin. This solution shrinks blood vessels, numbs the area, and decreases pain and bleeding after surgery.
  • Your surgeon will put a long, thin tube into the incisions. The tube is hooked to suction and is moved back and forth under the skin to remove extra fat. Your surgeon may use ultrasound energy to help remove fat cells. The incisions may be closed with stitches. Some of the smaller incisions may be left open to drain extra liquid.

What will happen after liposuction:

A bandage and pressure garment will cover the treated areas. You may have some drainage for 1 to 2 days after surgery. Your surgery areas will be bruised and swollen. Swelling will be worst between 3 to 5 days after surgery. Most of the swelling goes away by 6 weeks after surgery. It may take 4 to 5 months for all of the swelling to go away.

Risks of liposuction:

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. You may develop a buildup of fluid, called a seroma. You may have numbness in or around your surgery areas. You may have loose skin in the treated areas, or it may look or feel lumpy. The skin usually tightens within 4 to 6 months after surgery. You may get a blood clot in your limb. This may become life-threatening.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have chest pain or shortness of breath.
  • You cough up blood.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have not been able to urinate for 12 hours after surgery.
  • Your stitches come apart.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your bruising and swelling get worse.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have nausea or are vomiting.
  • Your pain does not go away or gets worse, even after you take pain medicine.
  • Your incision is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


Do not take NSAIDs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, for at least 1 week after surgery. These medicines can increase your risk for bleeding.

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Care for your wound as directed:

You may be able to shower 1 or 2 days after surgery, or as directed. Carefully wash around the incisions with soap and water. It is okay to let soap and water gently run over your incisions. Do not scrub the incisions. If you have bandages, put on new, clean bandages after you bathe or if they get wet or dirty. Check your incisions every day for swelling, redness, or pus.


  • Drink liquids as directed. You may need to drink more liquids than usual after surgery. Liquids help prevent dehydration. Water is the best liquid to drink. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
  • Wear your pressure garment as directed. You may need to wear the pressure garment for 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. Do not remove the pressure garment except to shower or use the bathroom. Have someone with you the first time you remove the pressure garment. You may become lightheaded, cold and sweaty, or have nausea. Wear the pressure garment inside out to prevent the seams from leaving marks on your skin.
  • Do minimal activity the first week after surgery. Gradually increase activity starting 2 weeks after surgery, or as directed. Ask when you can resume your normal activities and return to work. You may be able to return to work in 1 week. You may be able to do light exercise, such as walking with your pressure garment on, the 2 weeks after surgery.
  • Apply ice on your surgery area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it to your skin. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods to help maintain a healthy weight. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return in 5 to 7 days to have your stitches removed. You will have regular follow-up visits so your healthcare provider can monitor your healing. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.