Post-Op Pain and Discomfort

1. How long after liposuction will the soreness or tenderness persist?

For about two days after liposuction, the amount of pain the patient experiences is based on the type of anesthesia used during the procedure. The effects of local anesthesia persist for more than 24 hours after liposuction. Liposuction under general anesthesia will usually require narcotics for the pain.

The degree of swelling, bruising, and soreness depend on the post-operative care. Soreness is usually most intense 2-4 days after surgery but gradually decreases. The areas treated with liposuction are usually sore and tender for up to four weeks, but the pain will lessen over the next 4-8 weeks.

2. What is the level of pain after liposuction?

Most patients describe feeling sore or tender after the local anesthesia wears off in 12-24 hours. The level of pain is comparable to a sunburn or muscle soreness following an intense workout. This level of pain can usually be treated with over the counter pain relievers.

3. Do elastic compression garments reduce post-operative pain?

Elastic compression garments are part of post-operative treatment that minimizes pain. Compression garments used with an open drainage technique will encourage maximum drainage of inflammatory anesthetic fluid used during tumescent liposuction. Because drainage relieves swelling and bruising, it can also relieve pain. Wearing the compression garment can inhibit movement of the treated body areas to reduce pain.

4. Will I have to stay in bed during the recovery period?

No. Patients should walk and remain active during recovery. Most patients who have had tumescent liposuction using local anesthesia can drive a car within 24-48 hours and return to work within 24-72 hours. General anesthesia requires more time off work and a longer period of inactivity.

5. Is tumescent liposuction with local anesthesia less painful than under general anesthesia?

Patients who have experienced liposuction under both types of anesthesia report that tumescent liposuction under local anesthesia is less painful. This is attributed to the fact that the area being treated is completely numbed during tumescent liposuction with local anesthesia. The effects of local anesthesia persist for 12-24 hours so there is no immediate pain following liposuction.
General anesthesia, IV sedatives, and narcotics are often associated with nausea, vomiting, and chills following liposuction. These symptoms do not usually occur with local anesthesia.

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