Why Am I So Tired After Body Contouring Surgery?

Q: Dr. Eppley, After my multiple body contouring procedures, just checking in to see if what I’m feeling right now is normal. I can’t seem to muster up any amount of energy and I’m feeling very lethargic and the overall discomfort is quite exhausting.  Also the backs of my hands where the fat was injected appear to be still quite swollen and the pain seems to be the same as it was when I initially had the surgery done.  Should I be limiting the use of my hands more so than what I have already been?  I’m taking my meds as prescribed and I have no fever or signs of infection.

A: None of this surprises me after major body contouring surgery. (breast augmentation, tummy tuck, buttock lift, fat injections to hands) When you have a lot of surgery, it takes tremendous energy to heal and that is where your body is putting its efforts. Thus any normal activities suffer a result and are deprived of their normal energy needs. While it seems like an eternity, it is only less than one full week after surgery so this is really a short period of time in the context of the overall recovery. In short, I consider what you are describing as very common and expected. I do not believe you will start to feel like yourself again for a few more weeks.

It is very common for the hands to be just as swollen at one week after surgery as it is the first few days. There is the volume added by the fat and then the swelling sets in. Together it takes a few weeks to lose the mitten look and for the hands to get supple again. While hand elevation and limiting their use helps, there is also the practical side that you have to used them for many activities. In the long run (6 to 8 weeks) the issue will likely be the opposite. (I wish more of the fullness had stayed)

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana