Why DId I Look So Good Right After Liposuction And Now Appear Bigger And More Swollen?

Q: Dr. Eppley, will I go back to the smallest size I was right after liposuction? It’s been three weeks now since I had liposuction of my stomach, flanks and back. Right after I got out of my surgery and for a week or so after that, my stomach was really flat. But then I swelled up and I don’t look quite the same. While I am not big or back to where I started, I thought by now I would be smaller since all of the swelling appears to be gone. Does one ever get back to what they were right after surgery?

A: What you are experiencing is extremely common and affects all liposuction patients. The more areas that are treated by liposuction, the more this rebound swelling phenomenon occurs. This is known as lymphedema which is fluid build-up throughout the tissues. This is not a localized collection of fluid but it is spread throughout the tissues. This is due to partial obstruction of the lymphatic channels and normal lymphatic outflow in the treated areas. This is a temporary phenomenon that occurs in all liposuction patients for the first few months after surgery. It appears within days to a week after the surgery. It is a self-solving problem as the lymphatic channels heal and reopen. This will restore the shape back to what you saw right after surgery. In addition, swelling after liposuction takes months to fully resolve not weeks. 

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana