You may be surprised to hear that one of the most common concerns I hear from my cosmetic surgery patients at my practices in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene is not about the surgery itself, but the recovery. Many people are worried about taking time off work, being unable to care for their families or pets, and getting back the active lifestyle they maintain.
As the technologies available in cosmetic surgery have become less invasive and more precise, that has also come with a corresponding decrease in recovery time. Smartlipo™ is a great example of this.
Traditional liposuction offers a faster recovery than a more invasive body contouring procedure, such as a tummy tuck, but patients still need nearly a week of recovery time before getting back to any normal activities. With the laser technology in Smartlipo, it’s now only a few days, and patients experience less pain, soreness, and discomfort.
But what is the Smartlipo recovery really like? Here are some of the greatest concerns my patients have for recovery, and what they can expect for each.
Because fat has been removed and the tissue in and around the treated area has been irritated, you are going to experience some swelling, no matter the technology. The swelling is completely normal and will last at least a few days after your surgery, depending on the area that you had treated. Make sure to drink lots of water and avoid foods high in sodium for at least 1 week after surgery, as salt may cause bloating and swelling for many people.
When you begin to feel more comfortable moving around, go for short walks around your house, yard, or neighborhood to keep blood circulating and swelling minimal. Be sure to wear compression garments provided by your surgeon for the first few days, depending on the treated area, as this will also contribute to smooth healing and less swelling.
You will experience the most soreness and discomfort for the first 2 to 4 days after the procedure, but this will steadily decrease and subside within the next 4 weeks after surgery. Many patients return to work 2 to 3 days after surgery, begin performing light exercises and stretching after 1 week, and slowly but steadily regaining their endurance and stamina from there, resting as much as necessary.
Pain and Discomfort
Patients will experience some pain, which can be managed with prescribed pain medication transitioning to over-the-counter pain relievers as soon as the next day . The options for pain medication will be determined by your surgeon and be dependent on the extent and location of the treatment. As I’ve mentioned, Smartlipo is less invasive than traditional liposuction, so the pain level will be more manageable.
Scars or Drains
The cannula used during liposuction is about 2 or 3 millimeters in width. This means that the incisions required for the instrument are very small in comparison to more invasive surgical procedures: The incisions (and resulting scars) are typically about 5 mm in length, and are left open for drainage purposes. They quickly heal with in a few days without sutures. With proper care and sun protection, the scars will quickly fade. Because liposuction is less invasive than other body contouring treatments, such as tummy tuck, drains are not needed.
Because the unwanted fat cells have been completely removed from your body, your results will last as long as you are able to maintain them through a healthy diet and exercise plan. Weight gain and pregnancy can change the results, as can the effects of aging and other health issues. But often, Smartlipo has an encouraging effect: Many of my patients say they’re so happy with their results that they have even more motivation than before to keep up their workouts and nutrition plans.
You can see the Smartlipo results for one of my patients below, who is pictured 4 months post-operation in the “after” photo. I’m excited to share that she was able to lose an additional 26 pounds after surgery because she was excited to keep up her results. The surgery combined with her healthy lifestyle allowed her to lose several inches and a clear reduction in clothes size.
Interested in learning more about the liposuction process? I encourage you to read through the Liposuction FAQ I’ve provided, which includes a list of questions I often hear during liposuction consultations. If you have a question that didn’t get answered there, feel free to share it in the comments section below!