How to Best Prepare for Liposuction Surgery

I’m so excited for your upcoming surgery and to be a part of this journey.  I’m here to give you all of the information and instructions you need in order to best prepare for your liposuction surgery in order to have a successful outcome. 

To best prepare for liposuction surgery, as my patient, you have a responsibility to follow your pre and post-operative instructions in order to ensure the best possible results. Plastic surgery is not a destination. It is a journey. And along this journey, there are steps that you must follow in order to ensure that it is exciting, enjoyable, safe, and an overall wonderful experience. So please read this article carefully as I review your pre – and post-operative instructions in order to best prepare for your liposuction surgery.

Plastic Surgeon Beverly Hills

Believe it or not, one of the challenging parts of surgeries is to find a way to make people remember the instructions and follow them. I wish I could follow my patients around and make sure they follow all the instructions. We have tried everything, sending videos, articles, emails, printing out papers with instructions and my office staff even uses a scare technique; if they don’t follow instructions, Dr. Cat will be upset. It’s no wonder they come and say “Dr. Cat don’t be mad at me but I..” 

No, but it’s really important. That’s why I’m writing this article. I think a lot of doctors don’t emphasize the importance of proper post-op instructions. And then if a patient has a bad outcome, or if something happens, then it’s too late. In the end, I want everyone to be able to follow instructions and have a good result and eliminate room for mistakes. 

Two Months Before Surgery

Okay, so let’s start with two months before surgery. Two months before surgery, one of the most important things is to stop smoking. This includes all nicotine products- gum, electronic anything with nicotine in it and then also the other inhalants involving nicotine, pot, nicotine gum, hookah. 

This also includes any inhalants because obviously, while you’re under anesthesia, you’ll be on the anesthesia machine. So anything that affects your lungs will affect the way that you recover from surgery and also minimize complications. So please no inhalants, no smoking, no nicotine of any kind, and nicotine can interfere with the blood flow to the skin. And that affects wound healing. So potentially your skin could die, fall off, and your wounds are not going to close and heal properly. 

No smoking sign made with broken cigarettesI will literally cancel your surgery if you do not follow the nicotine instructions, so please do not smoke anything. 

Also, around this time, you’re going to need to start thinking about who can help you after surgery. I know that some of you feel heroic, and I know you’re super tough, but really, you need to have some help. So call your friends, family, anyone that you think will help you. Also, you cannot drive after having anesthesia. You cannot throw yourself in a cab. You need to have a responsible adult for the first 24 hours. 

Uber doesn’t count either because you’re going to be by yourself. You will need somebody who can drive you home, get you settled, and make sure you take your medications so that you can recover in peace.

If you are having more extensive surgery, you may need to stay in one of our plastic surgery after-care facilities. They will be able to help you with all of your post-op needs the night after your surgery. If you want to stay for more days, please let my office know and we’ll help you arrange that. 

Two Weeks Before Surgery

This is where you really need to pay attention. It is important to stop all aspirin Motrin, ibuprofen, Aleve, vitamins, herbals, alcohol two weeks before and after surgery. Even my daughter knows this, she repeats it a ton of times because I say it so much!

Cleanse yourself and take the opportunity to make sure that your body is nice and clean for any additional substances. Do not take Advil because I will have to cancel your surgery. Even if you have a headache, take Tylenol, if you have cramps, take Tylenol.

woman taking a pillIf you have any questions about something, please ask. Ultimately, you’re just going to be able to take Tylenol and you’re pretty much going to have to stop everything else because all those other things could potentially make you bleed in surgery. As you know, I hate any blood in my surgeries because I want you to have a really great and easy recovery!

Sun Exposure Before Plastic Surgery

Two weeks before surgery, please do not over-expose yourself to the sun or get a sunburn.

You really do not want to have your skin peeling off on my surgery site, so please do not do that. Save the bikini body for after the surgery. Then, you can safely tan (with some MD Glam SPF protection of course), and you can show everyone how amazing you look!

One Week Before Surgery

The week before surgery, please let us know if you have a cough, fever, any illness, or if you have any sort of skin changes or infections. If you are feeling sick or have a cough, please do not take over-the-counter medication without asking us. You also want to start thinking about what you’ll need going into surgery. Most importantly, pick up your medications and don’t wait. Please prepare ahead of time.

When you go to the pharmacy, you can also pick up the special soap that we recommend, the Hibiclens. You should be able to find it in almost all pharmacies in the cleansing aisle with the alcohol and peroxide. It is a green bottle, it’s really easy to find. You will also need to buy TED hose or compression stockings. We recommend using a TED hose that is above the knee because when you’re recovering from surgery you don’t want to be constantly pulling them up. They have thigh-high ones, and they don’t have to be overly tight. Please don’t get them too tight because then we can’t get them off of you. Less than 20 millimeters of mercury is ideal or anything that feels comfortable because you’re going to have to be in the TED hose for at least a week after your surgery. It helps with your circulation and prevents you from getting a blood clot.

Two Days Before Plastic Surgery

So two days before surgery, we want you to cleanse your body with the Hibiclens soap. Be sure you wash your body very well. Keep the soap on for like two minutes, scrub, scrub, scrub in all the creases, in between the breasts, underneath, and the belly button. Especially the belly button and the back. We have found all kinds of things in the belly button. I will personally clean it in your surgery. However, if you can please remove bacteria, all kinds of lint, debris from your back and from your belly button before surgery. That will help keep the surgery site clean and minimize any chance of infection.

Shaving Before Surgery

Please remove all hair from areas around your surgery site two days before so you don’t have any open cuts or wounds. Shave and start using the HIPAA cleanse washes two days before surgery.

I don’t want to have to search through a national forest to find my incision site!

If you do not shave before surgery, the nurses will end up shaving you on the operating room table and it will add more time, and you’ll have to pay for that extra OR overtime. Please shave before.

Diet & Food Before Surgery

Two days before surgery, please try to stick with a light diet. Even though you’re not going to be able to eat after midnight the day before your surgery, don’t go to the nearest in and out and get a burger and fries. You don’t want to be bloated during your surgery. If you take any of the pain medication, it may also make you constipated and you don’t want to be full of food and constipated after surgery. 

woman looking at a hamburgerTrust me, it’s not an issue that you want to have. You want to be able to focus on recovering and not be worried about your bowel movements. No eating after midnight, the night before surgery. 

The Night Before Your Plastic Surgery

Please do not eat or drink anything after midnight and this includes drinking water. You can take your medication if you have high blood pressure pills, with a small sip of water the morning of surgery, but otherwise please do not eat or drink anything the night before surgery. That includes mints, gum, anything that you put in your mouth. Also, please do not put lotions, deodorants, creams, or anything like that on your skin. I’m going to be marking you right before we go into surgery, and this will keep me from being able to mark you appropriately.

On the Day of Your Liposuction Surgery

You don’t want to wear any valuable jewelry or contacts to the surgery.

Please wear loose, comfortable clothing. Do not wear super tight leggings or pants, wear something that you can get in and out of easily. If you wear sweatpants, they need to be very loose on the band to not cause any pressure. Now we will review the instructions for liposuction.

After Your Liposuction Surgery

I love liposuction. It’s a fun surgery to watch- the transformation and the hourglass shape being formed. When you wake up from surgery after liposuction, you will be in your compression garment already. The garment will feel a little bit damp because you’re going to be injected with fluids and numbing medication and they tend to leak a little bit out of the liposuction incisions.

It’s totally normal and usually the initial drainage is for the first 24 hours, so please plan ahead. I usually tell people to get a garbage bag, cut it open, put it on your bed, and use lots of towels. That way you don’t completely ruin all your furniture. For your car, you want to get anything plastic to cover it like a trash bag or doggy pads. It’s only for the first 24 to 48 hours that you’re really leaky, so it’s not terrible. It looks like dark-colored Kool-Aid or various shades of that, and it is totally normal. It’s the numbing medication that I placed and it’s mixed in with a little bit of blood. There tends to be a lot of it because sometimes I use liters of fluid.

With liposuction, it’s extremely important that you keep that garment on for six weeks. Any swelling or fluid retention that you have will be decreased significantly, if you wear your garment properly, you will also have foam pads inside your garment in the front and in the back or depending on where you have the liposuction to make sure that the skin stays nice and smooth and flat.

We recommend that you wear the foam for at least two weeks, and you will have to stay in the compression garment for six weeks. During that time, it is extremely important to keep the garment nice and straight without any wrinkles, or creases in it. Especially nothing that makes a tight band because I’m going to create an hourglass shape. Especially in the waist, the garment tends to want to bunch. Any crease can create lines, so you definitely want the garment to be smooth and keep it as straight as possible.

How to Wear and Wash Your Garment

The garment should always be completely free of any creases- it should be perfectly smooth. If you have to adjust the garment by shortening the straps or pulling down on the legs, please do so. If you are busy or forgetful, you can set an alarm to remind yourself to check your garment. If you have a job where you have to sit a lot, make sure you sit up as straight as possible, so you’re not bending and creating a dent in your abdomen.

When you wash your garment, we only want you to be out of it for 30 minutes at a time. That’s not enough time to put it in the washer and in the dryer- we all know how long laundry takes. What you can do is hand wash the garment quickly with some detergent, and then you can put it in the dryer for 15 or 20 minutes, and then get it right back on.

If that is too stressful, you can always purchase a second garment so that you can alternate between the two. The post-op care is very important because as you’re healing, your body will mold to the shape of the garment. So please be careful not to create any wrinkles in your garment. Please do not wear anything overly tight like an elastic band, that’s going to pinch and make creases.

I’ve had to cut a patient’s sweatpants before because the band was making a crease in her beautiful hourglass-shaped abdomen! I did ask her for permission, but please arrive in loose clothing.

If you are having liposuction of your inner thigh, you want to make sure also that the garment comes all the way up your leg. Please do not let any inner thigh skin or fat pooch out of the hole. There is a hole in the garment to allow you to go to the bathroom so you don’t have to take it off every time, but please do not let your skin poke out from that hole. Although your incisions will be very small, if you feel like any of the incisions are being rubbed by the garment or positioning or any clothes please carefully pat it with a little piece of gauze. As you’re healing, any friction or rubbing can create a less than ideal scar.

Physical Activity After Liposuction Surgery

In terms of physical activity after your liposuction surgery, we definitely want you walking around every other hour. At least to go to the bathroom, go to the kitchen, and walk around your house. You will do this up until about two weeks after surgery.

If you think about it, especially when you’re awake, you’re pretty much getting up every other hour to do something. We want you to be as normal as possible and not lie around in bed for weeks because that will increase your chances of getting a blood clot. Please take it easy, but you want to move around every other hour. Just like if you take a long flight, you are advised to walk around every other hour. If you are from out of town, we recommend that on that flight home, you do the same thing- get up and walk around every other hour. You will also have the TED hose or compression stockings that we talked about earlier that you will wear. We recommend wearing the TED hose for a complete week after your surgery or if you’re out of town patient, please wear them throughout your flight back home.

Pain Medication After Liposuction Surgery

My patients feel so amazing after surgery that they usually don’t even need pain medication. It’s crazy! I’ve had people from out of town come to me and say “I had surgery yesterday, but then I walked around Beverly Hills and went to Rodeo and went shopping.” Please do not go shopping after your surgery- go to your hotel and rest. Take it easy and please don’t go sightseeing the day after your surgery. You’re going to have a lot of swelling and I’ll be very uncomfortable. For the first two weeks, please stick to gentle walking. After two weeks, you can walk uphill and do a little bit more cardio. After four weeks, you can start to do a few bodyweight exercises. It’s really until the magic number: six weeks, that we can resume normal exercise.

Weightlifting and Diet After Plastic Surgery

You don’t want to do a lot of heavy lifting because, during that period of time when you are healing, anything that raises your blood pressure will create more swelling.

In terms of diet after your operation, you definitely want to take it slow in terms of getting back into normal food, but we will start you on clear liquids and then as you can tolerate it you can go back to your normal diet.

Liposuction RecoveryIf you have extensive liposuction, you will spend the first night at the plastic surgery after-care facility with nurses and they will gauge and see how you’re doing with food. We definitely don’t want you to feel nauseous and throw up right after your surgery. You will have anti-nausea medication so we recommend taking that with food before your other medications. Otherwise, stick to a healthy diet, rich in antioxidants and proteins that will all help with your healing. We recommend carbonated beverages and crackers or anything light to start off, and then you can gradually progress from there.

When I perform liposuction, I remove a lot of fat, so please do not go and eat McDonald’s or any sort of fatty food. 

For showering after your liposuction surgery, we ask that you wait two days until you shower. This gives the incisions a little time to completely close before you get your body wet. Also, please take off your compression garment. During your shower, let the water run on your body, and do not scrub any of the incisions- there will be little tapes over some of them, so pat them dry. If they’re really wet, you can blow dry them.

Please take off your garment when you shower. Also, when you take off your garment after liposuction, please be aware that you may feel a little bit lightheaded because the garment is very tight and snug. Your blood pressure tends to drop when you take it off, so be aware of that and have somebody to help you.

Please do not take off your garment and shower alone just in case you fall or you need a little bit of extra help. If you are feeling lightheaded at any time, very carefully lie down on the ground and everything will normalize. Please do not shower or go to the bathroom unaccompanied. The garment itself does have a hole in it, so if you need to go to the bathroom, you don’t have to continually take your garment off. There is a hole there for that. When you wash your garment, we recommend that you hand wash it and then throw it in the dryer so you’re not out of it for more than half an hour at a time.

Removing Sutures After Liposuction

For liposuction, you will have several tiny little incisions on your body, which will be closed with little dissolvable sutures. Those sutures should dissolve on their own. But if they don’t, we are able to remove them in the office. We usually recommend this at around two weeks. 

If you’re an out-of-town patient, you can have someone local, either primary care physician, or you can go to an urgent care to remove them. They are dissolvable so even if they leave a little piece in, it’s not a huge deal, you really can’t mess it up. But in general, they usually dissolve. I always remind everyone, they’re super tiny, but you need to take care of your incisions after surgery.

Scar Treatments After Plastic Surgery

We do recommend a scar treatment regimen that starts at around two to three weeks after your surgery.

You want to protect the incisions from being rubbed on anything or developing any unnecessary dark scars.

If you feel like something’s rubbing, then protect it with gauze. Please do not cover the incisions with band-aids or anything that are going to trap moisture. If you feel like there’s friction, please put a little piece of gauze to pad it clean and dry- this is the most important thing to remember with any incision. It does take a full two years for the scars to completely fade, so please be patient and don’t start doing weird things and putting weird creams on them without my permission. Please give it some time- they’re super tiny, it takes time for them to completely fade.

Swellings, Redness and Bruising after Liposuction Plastic Surgery

After liposuction, it’s very common to be swollen for a few months. The maximal swelling is usually around day three, and then as the fluids leave your body, around two weeks, you should see much less swelling. Your body will be completely back to normal after four to six months, so it does take a lot of time.

It takes time for your skin to shrink and tighten around all the pockets of fat that I have removed. Please be patient because you will see a significant change initially in your shape, but know that it takes time to see the final results. Things to call my office about that are urgent, usually are not subtle- this will be something like a very high fever, redness around an incision site that is spreading very quickly. Not just a little redness.

It is normal to see a little bit of redness but anything that’s spreading, that’s hot, that’s tender, that is something that you would want to alert us about urgently. Also, any difficulty breathing or any swelling of your calves. These things are extremely, extremely rare. Other than that, it is normal to have general swelling and bruising after your surgery. You can relax and enjoy the process. 

Stay positive and think positive thoughts

Your anesthesia experience should be amazing like you’ll feel like you took the best nap of your life.

I’m always jealous of my patients that get to take an eight-hour nap, uninterrupted, and then wake up looking amazing. Think positive thoughts and support yourself with positive people. This is something really nice you are doing for yourself and the environment to be calm, relaxing, and exciting.  

To watch my video with instructions please visit my YouTube.