What to Expect from Liposuction Recovery

When areas of stubborn fat won’t go away, even with diet and exercise, liposuction is a safe, proven solution. In fact, in 2020 alone, over 210,000 liposuction procedures were performed in the United States, making it one of the top five cosmetic surgical procedures¹. However, it’s still a surgical procedure and requires care during recovery. To help you prepare, Dr. Ortiz, a leading plastic surgeon in Raleigh, is walking you through what to expect from liposuction recovery.

raleigh liposuction

How Does Liposuction Work?

Liposuction involves removing fat deposits from a variety of areas around the body, including the:

  • Abdomen and belly
  • Buttocks
  • Thighs
  • Upper arms
  • Back
  • Chin
  • Hips

In order to remove the fat deposits, Dr. Ortiz will perform suction-assisted liposuction.  This is a method in which saline, water, and a local anesthetic are injected into the targeted area. A cannula, or a thin tube similar to an IV needle, is inserted and used to suction out fat cells.

This is an outpatient procedure, so following this and a brief recovery, you can be taken home to recover. For safety reasons, patients cannot drive themselves home after liposuction.  Plan to have a trusted adult drive you home that day.

Liposuction Recovery

From start to finish, liposuction recovery is about six weeks long.

The First 72 Hours

After you are home from the procedure, it’s important to lay down and rest. You’ll have a compression garment to wear and there may be small drains placed at the surgical sites to keep fluid from building up. Dr. Ortiz will provide you with in-depth care instructions for your incisions and drain sites.

You will experience mild to moderate pain and discomfort, though you’ll receive a prescription for pain management. During the first three days, you’ll want to limit movement to walking around your home, avoiding stairs, and doing any lifting.

Week One and Two

Once the first few days have passed, you’ll notice the pain is much less and you have greater mobility, though swelling and bruising will be noticeable. It’s important to still maintain your incision sites, wear your compression garments, and avoid lifting. However, you can walk around your home more easily, and you may plan to go back to work after two weeks, depending on your job.

Week Three through Six

After three to four weeks, the pain should be almost, if not completely gone, and much of the swelling should subside. However, there may still be some, which is normal. As swelling and bruising heal, you’ll see your results improve, and you should be able to begin walking around your neighborhood and getting light exercise.

By six weeks, your liposuction recovery should come to an end and your activity levels should be back to normal. However, these are just general guidelines. Dr. Ortiz can provide you with a more customized recovery plan during your follow up visits.

Improving Your Liposuction Recovery

You can’t rush recovery, but you can improve and boost how your body heals with these tips:

  • Eating a nutritious diet of whole grains, lean proteins, and fruit and vegetables to get the vitamins and minerals that boost healing and reduce inflammation.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Take the first few weeks of recovery to get plenty of rest and good sleep. Sleep is an essential component of healing!
  • Follow directions for caring for your incisions to prevent infection, taking particular care to keep bandages clean and dry.
  • Keep moving. While you aren’t able to work out for several weeks, it is important to get movement, though we recommend starting slow the first few days. After that, starting with short walks keep blood moving through your body which can boost healing.
  • Wear compression garments in order to reduce swelling, keep pressure on the area, and maintain the contours that liposuction creates.
  • Don’t push yourself. It’s easy to think you’re doing okay and try to get back to your usual routines, but you can end up causing serious harm. Listen to Dr. Ortiz’s liposuction recovery guidelines and take it slow.

Schedule a Consultation to Discuss Liposuction

If you would like to get a smoother, trimmer physique, liposuction may be the solution you’ve been searching for.  During your consultation, Dr. Ortiz will walk you through the procedure in more detail, also providing more personalized information related to recovery. To learn more, reach out to our office at 919-532-2270 or fill out the form below to get started.


  1. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Plastic Surgery Statistics Report 2020. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/documents/News/Statistics/2020/plastic-surgery-statistics-full-report-2020.pdf