Liposuction is a popular aesthetic medical procedure thanks to its ability to contour the body in areas that might not respond to diet or exercise.
Liposuction is one of the most commonly performed plastic surgery procedures in the United States, and for a good reason — the results can be transformative. But in order to reap the most benefits, it’s important that patients take the time to prepare themselves for liposuction surgery and recovery.
Aestheticians can use the following tips to ensure their liposuction patients are prepared to have a successful surgery and recovery.
Use these liposuction patient recovery tips as a checklist when meeting with patients before a procedure.
Have Arrangements Made Beforehand
Let your patients know that they should secure a ride home from the hospital well in advance of their procedure. Make sure they understand that they shouldn’t drive. Someone they trust, whether a family member, friend or professional car service, must drive them home. They should give the designated driver’s contact information to the hospital staff before the procedure to ensure a smooth transition from hospital to home. Addressing these details before surgery day is important because, without proper planning, the patient may have a difficult time recovering.
Go Over a Recovery Timeline
By conveying realistic outcomes about post-surgery life, a patient can better understand how their body must heal over time. Preparing a recovery timeline for your patients is a good way to help them visualize their recovery process. The timeline should include what to prepare when they return home, how to use any medical supplies provided, how long recovery may take and what the patient can and can’t do while recovering.
Discuss What Patients Can and Can’t Do After Surgery
During the patient’s consultation process, you should emphasize that certain activities are prohibited after surgery, and the instructions provided should be followed once they leave the hospital. During the first few weeks, the patient should wear compression garments, which can restrict movement, and be prepared to clean drainage from the injection. For a successful recovery, they should take time off work and rest as much as possible.
They may need help moving around the house and should consider asking friends or family to help with day-to-day tasks. Patients should know that pain and healing are normal parts of liposuction recovery. Doctors should prescribe them pain-management pills with instructions to be followed.
After two weeks, the patient might be ready to exercise and resume normal activities, though the recovery process differs for everyone. If the pain and soreness have lessened, they can remove the compression garment to see the result of the procedure. Encouraging patience and adherence to guidelines will help them see the best results.
After the Surgery
Discuss the following liposuction recovery tips with your patients so they know what to expect after surgery.
Follow the Doctor’s Orders
The surgeon will provide detailed information with various do’s and don’ts to follow while recovering from the procedure.
Liposuction patient recovery instructions will include things like how often to change bandages in order to prevent infection, when or how often to take pain medication and general care tips. It’s a good idea to ask the doctor for these post-surgical instructions before the actual procedure so that patients can make any necessary preparations for recovery in advance.
Take Time Off to Recover
Liposuction doesn’t require major incisions, but it’s still an invasive medical procedure, and, like any surgery, patients need time to heal from it. Doctors usually recommend that patients take a couple of weeks away from work and many daily activities.
Patients can generally expect to experience a certain amount of pain or discomfort immediately following liposuction surgery. The surgeon will provide pain medication to help improve comfort levels. During the initial 24 to 48 hours after the surgery, patients should have someone close by to help with day-to-day tasks like cleaning, cooking and childcare so the patient can limit physical activity and get appropriate rest.
A proper diet is crucial in helping to ensure the quickest, most comfortable recovery. Aside from the obvious benefits of a healthy, well-balanced diet, liposuction patients who maintain such a diet can expect to experience less post-surgical swelling, which can significantly improve comfort and reduce overall recovery time.
Incorporating vitamins, antioxidants and other nutrients into their diet will help patients more quickly regain their strength after surgery. Some things to keep in mind include the following:
- Choosing foods that are low in sodium: Excess salt intake encourages the body to retain water which can worsen swelling and slow recovery.
- Eating protein-rich foods: Increased protein intake helps aid the regrowth of skin and muscle to speed wound healing.
- Limiting sugar intake: Excess sugar can subdue the immune system, increase blood glucose levels and cause mineral imbalances in the body.
- Eating small meals throughout the day: Consuming smaller portions of food multiple times daily helps avoid nausea or bloating.
- Loading up on fruits and veggies: Strawberries, watermelon, grapefruit, zucchini and celery are all excellent choices to include in the post-liposuction recovery diet.
Don’t Smoke or Drink
As with any medical procedure, patients should avoid smoking and drinking alcohol for at least a month following surgery to heal as quickly as possible.
Smoking can increase the risk of infection after surgery because it causes the blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to the incision sites. Drinking alcohol can also lead to dehydration, which can interfere with patients’ recovery.
If your patients need help with their smoking or drinking habits, provide them with resources.
Stay on the Move
While too much activity can put patients at risk of infection or injury and slow down recovery, it’s important that they get on their feet post-surgery. Inactivity can increase the chance of developing blood clots, which can be fatal if not treated in time.
Light exercise, non-strenuous movement and leisurely walks help promote circulation, reduce swelling and facilitate healing. A good habit is to get up and move around the house at least once every hour.
Patients should, however, take at least four to six weeks away from the gym. Pushing themselves too hard will slow down recovery.
Dehydration can happen after any surgical procedure, and liposuction is no exception. Replacing the water lost during surgery helps keep the body hydrated and promotes healing.
Drinking eight to twelve cups of healthy fluid each day is the best way to maintain healthy hydration. Some good choices include water, pure fruit juices or herbal tea.
Wear Loose Clothing
Patients might want to wear more formfitting clothes to highlight their new shape, but loose clothing is better during recovery and healing.
Patients will receive a compression garment following surgery, along with instructions on how and when to wear it.
Watch for Complications
Inform your patients that, while unlikely, some potential complications may occur after liposuction. Infection and blood clots are the most serious complications of surgery.
Patients should call their surgeon if they notice any of the following symptoms:
- Pain that gets worse over time
- Excessive swelling
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Leg pain
- Swelling or redness in legs
When in Doubt, Ask
As medical aesthetic professionals, we are here to help our patients. We should always encourage them to ask questions if there’s anything they don’t understand or feel unsure about. After all, it’s our job to ensure they get the best results possible by achieving a full, uneventful recovery.
Join AAAMS for More Tips
The American Association of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery (AAAMS) has been teaching the art of aesthetics to physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners since 2006. We offer formal training through a range of comprehensive courses, including beginner and advanced liposuction training. When you become a member of AAAMS, you will gain access to exclusive content and meet and network with other medical professionals. Take your practice to the next level by signing up for an AAAMS membership today.