How to prepare for liposuction
Tips I learned when getting ready for my surgery. What to buy and to do to have a good and speedy recovery
In this series of articles, I’m writing about my own experience with liposuction for lipedema. Some, or most, of these tips should also apply for regular liposuction.
Once you’ve made the decision to have liposuction (click here for my tips on how to know if you’re making the right choice), and you’ve chosen the right surgeon (click here to read my tips on how to choose a surgeon), it’s time to prepare for surgery. This is what I did in the months prior to my surgery.
During pre-op, you’re going to want to do some prep and buy some supplies you’ll need for post-op. Here are a few things I’d recommend you get before you have your procedure (click the links to shop):
You’ll need at least two pairs, so you can wash one and wear one. Your surgeon might also recommend that you buy extra compression garments and wraps. These will help with your post-op swelling. Each surgeon has a brand they recommend, but I used Marena LGL. I also bought these:
Knee highs — extra compression for lower legs/ankles
Elastic wraps — extra compression for knees
Thigh braces — extra compression for thighs
Make sure you have all your prescriptions filled before your surgery. Your surgeon will probably prescribe you antibiotics, pain medication (I mostly took Tylenol and only 3 or 4 Vicodin), and he might prescribe an Iron supplement in case you need it. I needed it because I felt fatigue post-surgery.
MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage)
MLD helps with swelling, fluid retention, and fibrosis during post-op. Make sure you schedule your appointments beforehand to ensure you’ll have someone you like available. I started my appointments on day 3, and I had 2–3 appointments every week for about 12 weeks. I also tested 3 therapists before choosing mine. Make sure you get someone with liposuction post-op experience. I’m Brazilian and Brazilian MLD therapists are the best in my opinion because Brazil has a long history of doing MLD–most women do it.
To make sure your legs are elevated the whole time after surgery. I used mine for 12 weeks after.
These are basically the same product, a female urination device. You position it in your groin area so you can pee standing up. This was extremely helpful because I wasn’t able to bend my knees for a week after surgery due to the tightness I felt around the area.
Antibacterial to wash the treatment areas the day of surgery.
You’ll lose a lot of electrolytes during surgery, so it’s a good idea to drink 2 or 3 Gatorade every day for about 1 week to replenish these electrolytes.
Tiger Tail Massager
I bought this on Amazon by recommendation from my doctor’s assistant, and it was one of the most helpful tools I had during my post-op. It helps break down fibrosis. I did a little bit every day starting week 2, and also took it to my MLD appointments so she could do more in the areas that were hard for me.
Anything with arnica will be great to help with bruising–you’ll have lots of bruising after surgery, which is completely normal. But arnica helps it go down very quickly.
Learning self-MLD and gentle self-massage is also helpful to manage pain and to break up some of the fibrosis.
Being in good shape will help your body with recovery. But you should prefer light and gentle exercise. Do not perform any high impact exercise such as running–they cause more harm than good for people with lipedema.
This one is controversial, but I had good results with it–I usually have 1 scoop of Vital Proteins collagen every morning. I upped it to 2 scoops three months prior to surgery, and 3 months after, and then I switched to just 1 scoop. Some people say collagen supplements may increase fibrosis, so use your best judgment and decide if it works for you or not.
Supplements/Vitamins (consult your doctor before buying)
Iron — you’ll lose blood during surgery and might feel weak after
Vitamin D — most of us are deficient
Vitamin C — to keep immunity high
Arnica — helps fight inflammation, relieves muscle pain, stiffness, and reduces pain, swelling, and bruises
After surgery, you’ll need loose-fitting outfits such as:
Wide pants — the current wide pant trend is actually a blessing for those with lipedema–some are quite stylish!
I’d strongly advise you to buy these in black, so you don’t accidentally stain them when your fluid starts leaking. After surgery, it’s common for a few incisions to leak–this is mostly fluid (tumescent), but it is blood tinted and it will stain in contact with fabric–, so be prepared and don’t risk ruining your favorite piece of clothing or shoes.
I experimented with keto to see if I could lose some of my extra weight. I lost 5lbs in about 2 weeks, which was great, but then I had blood tests performed for my pre-op and my liver enzymes were completely out of whack, so I stopped it. After that, I personally think that keto is dangerous if not monitored constantly with blood tests, and would not recommend it.
These were the things I chose to try and do before surgery. This is not medical advice, as I’m not a doctor. If you do decide to try any of these things, please consult with your doctor before doing so.
As always, I hope this article will help women in their lipedema journey. If you’ve stumbled on this and know someone who might have it, please share it with them. They’ll thank you.