How to minimize swelling after cosmetic plastic surgery

In the previous post I wrote about how swelling occurs after any cosmetic surgery and the differences between swelling inside the cells, intracellular swelling, and swelling outside the cells, extracellular swelling.

Decreasing or at least controlling post-operative swelling is very important in any plastic surgery procedure, and there are a number of ways to achieve this, especially after liposuction:

  1. Elevate affectedareas. Less fluid in = less swelling = less pain.
  2. Apply ice to cool the injured areas and decrease blood flow so less fluid exits the vessels and gets into the tissues.
  3. Take steroids, which will reduce swelling in some situations but may cause other problems.
  4. Take Arnica montana, which may reduce swelling after some surgeries.
  5. Compress the area so less fluid enters the injured tissues…
…and that is where our problem is with compressions for liposuction surgery. On the one hand, we want to decrease swelling by compression of tissues, and on the other, we want fluid to enter injured areas to bring in all nutrients needed for wound healing.

Lipo garments in the past

As recently as five years ago I used compression garments on all my liposuction patients for up to two months. There are stage 1 to 3 garment,s etc.; after all, there is a whole garment industry built on this idea of post-operative compression of injured areas. The swelling fluid is not allowed to leach out of the blood vessels by compression of the areas.

Lipo compression today?

Recent research and practices have shown that there is no difference in final results between using compression garments and not using them in liposuction patients and, more importantly, that there may be less complications when not using garments in most cases.
A tight garment is like an elastic band and will not only compress tissues and block the normal flow of lymph but can also lead to denting and tissue death that may be permanent and hamper your cosmetic result. In my cosmetic plastic surgery practice, I use compression garments or bandages for the first few days in some plastic surgeries and tell my patients to use a lightly compressive garment like pantyhose just to give them a little support. Some cosmetic patients swell more and need a bit more compression for a bit longer, but the general trend is to go loose and let nature do its thing.
2020  update and guess what? I hardly us garments these days. Just a bit of compression for the first few days, and that mainly on gynecomastia patients. For thigh liposuction a panty hose seems to be enough.