Liposuction Pain Management

Tips on How to Manage Pain During Liposuction Recovery

woman and nurse after surgery
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Pain Management After Liposuction

Liposuction, also known as suction lipectomy, lipoplasty, liposculpture or lipo, is a minimally invasive cosmetic surgical procedure to remove small-to-moderate localized deposits of fat.

After a liposuction, the patient will be given a series of post-operative instructions. The type of anesthesia and the amount used determine the level of pain experienced during the first few days after liposuction.

Liposuction performed with intravenous sedation (IV) will result in less post-operative pain and rarely requires medication other than acetaminophen. Liposuction performed under general anesthesia usually results in pain that is more intense that requires prescribed pain medication.  

Some general expectations for the management of pain after liposuction are listed below:

  • Pain will be the most intense two to four days after the procedure then gradually lessens.
  • Tenderness and soreness are typical but will eventually fade.
  • Patients should avoid medication such as Motrin, Ibuprofen, Advil and Aleve for the first two weeks. They can increase drainage and bruising.
  • The compression garment given to the patient will ease some of the pain by providing support. It also reduces the swelling of the areas that have had liposuction and reduces pain.
  • The compression dressings should not be made so tight as to reduce blood flow to the area.
  • Due to the loss of sensation in the area, do not use hot or cold compresses or water bottles. It could result in burns or frostbite to the area.

Most of the swelling and pain after liposuction is the result of the residual anesthetic, used during the procedure that remains under the skin. The inflammation and swelling can be reduced by the drainage of the anesthetic and the use of the compression garment.

Patients who have had liposuction are encouraged to engage in light physical activity such as walking. Patients who have had IV sedation return to a normal work schedule quicker than those who have had liposuction with general anesthesia. Patients who have had liposuction with general anesthesia typically have a higher incidence of nausea, vomiting, and chills and usually require prescription medication to control their pain.

Patients who experience extreme pain or pain of a long duration should contact their physician.  

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