Liposuction is a very popular, and therefore quite a routine cosmetic surgery, involving minimal risk for a makeover, less so than a body lift. Nevertheless, it’s important to know what to expect from the recovery process and to be prepared accordingly.

Every surgery, no matter how minimal, will leave you feeling vulnerable, requiring a certain healing period which, unfortunately, involves a certain degree of discomfort, even for something as simple as Botox. It’s important to be prepared for the recovery period, and to take the time to look after yourself properly.

The recovery period varies when it comes to length, and depends, first and foremost, on the type of liposuction you’ve undergone, and secondly, on the amount of fat that was extracted.

Your Stay at the Clinic or Hospital

Liposuction, no matter the technique used, does not require you to spend the night at the hospital. You will be sent home on the day of the procedure. How long you’ll be in the hospital depends on the type of anesthesia you are given. If the procedure is done with local anesthesia, you will be sent home quite quickly – probably within 30 minutes after the completion of the procedure. If you were put under general anesthesia, you will spend several hours in the hospital under observation.

General anesthesia is nothing to be afraid of; it’s common practice and is overall very safe. Still, it is a process that artificially induces unconsciousness, and renders the brain unable to respond to pain impulses and reflexes, and this is not something to be taken lightly.

This is why doctors like to monitor everyone after they wake up from general anesthesia – it’s simply staying on the safe side, making sure that your body functions are back to normal and that you transition back to your old and fully functional self, with no complications.

Checking in With Your Doctor Regarding Liposuction Recovery

Patients are usually asked to come back in for a consultation with their surgeon within the first two or three days after the surgery. This is a routine check-up. If your incisions were closed with stitches, the stitches will be removed after a week.

The first week after the surgery, you might be asked to keep a compression garment on. The compression garment is there to prevent further swelling on the one hand, and on the other, to make sure that you maintain the shape you were going for with the procedure. Compression garments also prevent the emergence of seromas.

A seroma is a collection of lymph fluid inside a body cavity. This fluid is also known as serum, and is a yellowish liquid that you could find leaking out of your incisions post-op. A seroma is no reason to panic, and it represents an inconvenience, rather than an actual problem. A seroma is a result of the injury of the lymphatic vessels during the fat extraction procedure.

The serum is extracted from the incision using a syringe, but it can also resolve itself on its own over time. You should notify your doctor if you notice the liquid leaving your incisions, and let professionals decide on the steps to be taken, if any. In any case, keeping the compression garment on will reduce the possibility of having a seroma, and in the case of it already being there, it will reduce its size.

The Liposuction Recovery Period

During the first week after the surgery, you can expect bruising, swelling and mild pain in the area that was treated. This is regulated by prescription painkillers and general rest. While strenuous physical activity, such as returning to a strict and demanding exercise regime, or any heavy lifting, for that matter, is to be avoided, you are definitely not supposed to be on bed rest. In fact, walking is quite important, as it reduces the risk of blood clots.

Most surgeons will tell you that you should take a light walk the very first evening after surgery, exactly for the purpose of avoiding blood clots.

Most of all, however, you’re supposed to follow common sense. Soreness, swelling, and bruising will certainly result in some discomfort and pain, and you should do only as much as your body allows. For each patient, the limit will be different.

Recovering From Traditional Liposuction Vs. SmartLipo

Traditional Liposuction

The recovery period after traditional liposuction is generally longer and more strenuous than after SmartLipo. The recovery period after a regular liposuction can last anywhere from a week to up to 10 weeks, depending largely on the amount of fat that was removed, the area it was removed from, your age, weight and the condition of your skin.

The incisions will be held together with stitches, which are meant to stay in your body about a week. Based on your personal case, your doctor will let you know when you’re supposed to come in to have them removed.

While you still have your stitches in, your movement may be made more uncomfortable and more difficult. In this case, even if the pain gets more severe, you mustn’t forget about the benefits of light daily walks, and go through with them in order to ensure there will be no blood clotting! Taking short showers won’t damage the stitches, but you’re not supposed to take baths until they’re removed.


The healing period after SmartLipo is generally shorter and less demanding. Drainage could happen but is not as usual in the case of SmartLipo as it is with traditional liposuction. If there is a buildup of excess liquid in your incisions, a draining tube will be inserted in the incision on the one end, and it will have a small suction bag on the other.

The process of draining out the unwanted liquids is not painful but is very important for your general healing process. The drainage doesn’t last more than a week in normal circumstances. In fact, the tube is typically there only for the first several days straight after the surgery.

In the case of SmartLipo, most of the liquid should be drained within 24 hours. The tube is to be removed strictly by your doctor! Based on the amount and speed of drainage, you will be told when you’re supposed to go back in for the removal of the drainage tube.

What We've Learned

Both in the case of SmartLipo and regular liposuction, you can expect to be able to get back to work and most of your daily activities approximately one week after the surgery. When it comes to traditional liposuction, the swelling could be more persistent, and thus this period might prove to be a bit demanding because of the physical discomfort the incisions will cause.

You will nevertheless be able to carry on with your daily activities – just more moderately, with a slower and less demanding tempo. You will also need to take extra care of your scars in order to help them heal and fade away faster.

SmartLipo leaves small or non-visible scarring, but traditional liposuction will leave scarring that will need your attention in the form of ointments and avoiding the sun.