Liposuction and post-lipo recovery & treatments
Loose skin, fibrosis, leftover fat and cellulite: some essential facts
Skin hardening and scar tissue / fibrosis after vaser, laser lipo or bodytite liposuction
Laser-assisted, ultrasound-assisted and radiofrequency-assisted liposuction is used to remove fat and tighten the skin at the same time, thereby attempting to solve the problem of loose, saggy skin left after the removal of fat. The special laser / ultrasound / radiofrequency cannula tips used for these procedures burn (coagulate) the skin internally, thereby hardening it. However, this coagulation also literally sticks the skin to the underlying tissues, which leads to difficulty with movement, pain and discomfort for a few weeks or months, until all tissue adhesions are broken down. Strong massage helps with adhesion removal.
To be honest, I would not call the skin hardening that occurs with the procedures skin tightening, because you do not gain a nice firm feel on your skin, but thick hardened skin. Furthermore, in the same manner unwanted adhesions are gradually broken down by the body, so are the ones that led to skin hardening: the body gradually rejects the denatured coagulated collagen fibres, thereby reverting to the saggy appearance in a few months to a year. So the skin hardening effect caused by the laser / ultrasound / radiofrequency tips is usually short lived.
On the other hand, the "burning from the inside" caused by the laser / ultrasound / radiofrequency tips typically causes excessive hardening on some skin spots here and there, leading to the appearance of several hard lumps and bumps made up of scar tissue / fibrosis. As these bumps are basically balls of scar tissue, they take much more time to be dissolved by the body, leaving you with both loose skin AND unsightly hard bumps.
During the last decade I have seen hundreds of clients who had different types of lipo before, and in my experience, most hard bumps are caused by laser-assisted liposuction, although I have seen bad cases with ultrasound and radiofrequency assisted lipolysis. Of course, I have seen some amazing results too and loads of average ones. Results depend on both the skill of the surgeon and also on how your body reacts to the coagulation.
Strong massage can help with the breaking down of those hard bumps, but that can only be initiated six weeks after surgery, as before that time tissues are too sensitive / painful for any strong treatment.
In summary, if you really need to have these kind of procedures, pick the best doctor possible (not necessarily the most expensive) and if you end up with some hard bumps have plenty of strong massages, starting six weeks after surgery.
Aftercare treatments after liposuction, vaser, smart lipo, bodytite, cellfina and cellulaze
Why is post-lipo aftercare needed? / does massage after liposuction help
Like with all surgery, some aftercare treatments are essential after all types of liposuction, even if liposuction is performed by a very skilled surgeon. This is because pain and swelling always follow any intrusive procedure. The following side effects typically occur:
- Loose skin (with plain lipo)
- Excessive hardening of the skin (with vaser / smart lipo / bodytite)
- Scar tissue formation / bumps (with all procedures)
- Lumps of fat left unremoved (with all procedures)
- Skin adhesion onto the underlying tissue, which leads to movement restriction (with all procedures, but especially so with vaser / smart lipo / bodytite)
Post-lipo aftercare: how to get rid of lumps after liposuction
The recommended treatments differ depending on the timeline after surgery. Here is a short list:
- Day 3-20: Focusing on pain, swelling and tissue healing. During the first 2-3 weeks post-lipo aftercare treatments are very gentle and aim to minimise pain and swelling and prevent excessive scar tissue from forming. Mild lymphatic drainage massage by hand or with special lymphatic drainage equipment is needed in the first few days after any liposuction surgery. A firmer massage - but not too strong - must be applied from the second week onwards.
- Day 21+: Focusing on scar tissue breakdown and cellulite reduction. From the third week onwards treatment can become progressively more vigorous: stronger lymphatic stimulation massage is preferred to the "fluffy" MLD variety used the first three weeks. In addition to reducing water retention, stronger massage also helps with the breakdown of scar tissue / hard bumps that typically form after lipo surgery, reduce fatty lumps and reduce cellulite (which liposuction does NOT remove), uncouple skin stuck on underlying tissue and increase range of movement.
- Day 60+: After about 8 weeks you can start having a strong radiofrequency treatment to more effectively break down leftover fat and cellulite and tighten up the skin.
A good, multi-ingredient cellulite cream can be of help
A good anti-cellulite cream, i.e. a cream that contains anti-inflammatory, circulation/lymph drainage-enhancing and lipolytic ingredients, should offer valuable with recovery as well as with cellulite and residual fat removal, and it can be applied throughout the different stages of recovery.
Cream application can start immediately, as long as contact with the portals (cannula insertion points) is avoided while the wounds are still open.