Q: Dr. Eppley, I had liposuction of my stomach, love handles, pubic mound and back rolls one week ago. The doctor said he removed almost 3.5 liters of fat. I am very concerned because I have such massive swelling in my pelvic area that feels so hard that I know there’s blockage of my lymphatic  system. I feel nauseated, toxic and the hardness in pelvic feels like rigor mortis. Not sure of spelling. The rock hard mass that I feel in my crotch can’t be normal for liposuction. It feels like deadening of my torso and tissues inside. I am very scared. Yes, I rejected most of the pain medication becasue I’d rather gauge how I feel instead of covering it up. Outside of my 8 hours sitting at my desk, all I do is bed rest.  All week I have been like a hospital patient. 

My job is stressful and may have caused the collection of cortisol in my midsection in the first place, but I think I can’t eliminate because of medication, stress, constipation and a very compromised lymphatic system. Not sure if I have lymphedema, but I am very sick. I drink plenty of water, but told nurse that I stay moving 3 times a week to keep my blood flowing (typically walking on treadmill 20 minutes regular pace). I eliminated my arm/muscle training and refrained from squats. 

Please help me with the rock hard blockage in my pelvic area, primarily. Massage doesn’t work. What’s good?

A: Everything you are experiencing is perfectly normal and expected with the liposuction you have had. Every patient who has aggressive liposuction of the torso gets every symptom that you have. It is, in fact, a lot of temporary lymphedema as liposuction of any type disrupts normal lymphatic outflow initially.

There is nothing to be scared about with how the tissues feel. All patients do not realize, and now you do, that liposuction is a very traumatic operation and creates a lot of subcutaneous tissue injury. This creates lots of swelling, fluid and overall lymphatic congestion. The solution is simply time. It will takes months for the tissues to fully recover  and feel normal again. Unfortunately there is no magic solution or method to hurry this process…and that is certainly true at just one week after surgery.

With abdominal liposuction women and men will develop substantial swelling at the ‘bottom of the well’ over the pubic and down into the genital area. This effect is magnified when pubic mound liposuction is concurrently done.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana