How long it takes to recover after a body lift procedure will depend largely on what kind of a procedure you had done and the extent of it. A thigh lift that removes less excess skin will need less recovery time than one that is more extensive. You should expect an extended recovery period for a full body lift however.
You should ask your surgeon for specific information about the expected recovery period for your specific lift procedure. He or she will give you instructions on what you should do and how to take care of your incisions during your recovery. Always follow your doctors advice on when to return to your regular activities.
For most lift procedures, you will have a long incision that may be closed with sutures, staples, or other types of closures. Sutures and staples are usually removed anywhere from 3 to 10 days after surgery at one of your follow-up visits to the surgeon. With a long incision, your surgeon may remove some sutures or staples in one visit and leave some in a few days longer.
In the first days after your surgery, try not to put too much stress on your incisions. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself. You should not move around too much, but you do need to get up and walk around gently a few times a day. This activity will help prevent the formation of blood clots that can be a serious health risk.
Your surgeon may insert surgical drains under your incision. These are plastic tubes that lead out of your body to a small bulb that will collect fluids. This helps prevent the build-up of fluids that can put pressure on the incision. The contents of the bulb may look a bit bloody, brown, or a clear pale yellow. The surgeon will instruct you on how often to empty the bulbs and take care of them. Surgical drains are usually removed when they stop collecting fluid, which may be anywhere from the day after surgery to a week or longer.
You will be sore, swollen, and uncomfortable. Your surgeon may give you a prescription for pain medications or advice on what over-the-counter pain relievers to take. Usually, you will be told to avoid products containing aspirin or ibuprofen for a week after your surgery. You can take safely take products with acetaminophen (Tylenol).
You will receive instructions on when you should change dressings or bandages (if at all) and whether you need to wear a compression garment and for how long. You will also be told when it is safe for you to take a shower or wash the area around the incision.
Watch out for symptoms such as a fever, increased redness around the incision, or a foul-smelling discharge from the incision. These could be signs of an infection and you should call your surgeons office immediately.
If you experience any problems breathing, any chest pains, or unusual heart beats, call your surgeons office and then go to the emergency room.
You will need to stay home resting and recuperating for at least a week after a lift procedure, possibly longer for a body lift. Your surgeon will advise you on when you can start your normal activities, including exercise and sports.
Most of the results of a lift procedure will be evident immediately. Your scars may look very red for several weeks. However, you will be swollen for a few weeks and it may take up to a year for your scars to fully heal and for you to see the full effects of your surgery.
Mary Lee Peters, MD
901 Boren Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
Miles Plastic Surgery
1221 Madison St.
Seattle, WA 98104
Pratt Plastic Surgery
10413 NE 37th Circle
Building 3, Suite B
Kirkland, WA 98033