Fat Transfer Recovery
Doing some research, finding the right surgeon, and carefully following his or her instructions are all very important to getting the best possible results from your fat transfer, but there is one more crucial step: the recovery. What happens during your recovery is very important for both your overall health and appearance. Because everyone's case is a little different, it is important that you follow the post-surgery care guidelines given to you by your surgeon. However, there are some general rules that apply to most people. This section will walk you through what to expect from your fat transfer recovery and what you need to do to help it go as smoothly, quickly, and comfortably as possible.
Immediately After Surgery
Right after your fat transfer surgery is completed, you will be taken to a post-op recovery room where nurses can monitor your progress and vital signs. You should expect to feel a little groggy or weak following your surgery, as your body processes the remaining anesthesia and adjusts to the trauma of the surgery. Some patients also experience mild nausea, although this not usually severe. Depending on how you are doing and what kinds of anesthesia were used during the process, you may be asked by members of the medical staff to perform certain actions, such as drinking, talking, or sitting up. Do try to follow their instructions to the best of your ability even if you don't feel well, but let them know if you feel sick or unwell.
Healthy patients who experience a normal fat transfer without any complications are not usually required to stay at the hospital overnight following their procedure, but they are encouraged to wait until most of the anesthesia has left their system and they feel very steady on their feet. Your doctor may also want you to wait a certain length of time, such as an hour, after your surgery before you try to leave the hospital so that he or she can be sure that you are not experiencing any adverse effects to the procedure or medications.
Leaving the Facility or Hospital
When you are ready to leave, you will probably have one last meeting with your doctor or an orderly to discuss your after care. If possible, have another person present at this time, since you may still be a little groggy and may have trouble remembering all of the instructions, or asking pertinent questions. You will need a friend or relative around anyway to give you a ride home after you are released, because you will not be able to drive immediately after your procedure.
Before you leave, make sure you have your next follow-up visit scheduled, as you will probably need at least one of these just to make sure you are healing properly and that everything is going as expected. You may also want to call ahead to your pharmacy to get any prescriptions filled, since you will want o have your antibiotics and painkillers ready when you need them.
The First 24 Hours
You should not plan on accomplishing much in the first 24 hours after your fat transfer surgery. Although fat transfers are not as intense or dangerous as some forms of surgery, your body has nonetheless undergone a fair amount of trauma, and exerting yourself before you are ready will certainly slow down your natural ability to heal, and may even cause more pain or damage. It is best to have a friend or family member stay with you during this time to help with any errands, food preparation, or childcare and getting up to the restroom, etc. While you don't want to just stay in bed if you don't have to, you shouldn't plan on anything more strenuous than a slow walk in the first day after your surgery.
As you begin your recovery, make sure you follow your surgeon's post-op directions exactly, as they will help you recover more quickly and avoid complications or infections. Things to take special note of include:
- the schedule of your medications
- any directions regarding bathing or cleaning your wounds or changing the dressings on them.
- If your surgeon's directions seem complicated or difficult to remember, you may want to write them down, or set a timer or alarm to remind yourself to take your medication on schedule.
As you recover, you should make sure you eat regularly and drink plenty of water and fluids. Food will give your body the energy it needs to heal quickly and well, and the extra liquid will help you flush out any remaining medications or organic debris left in your body. In general, patients are not kept on a restricted diet following fat transfer operations, but ask your doctor just to be sure.
Finally, if your surgeon asks to wear any special bandages or compression garments, do so for the entire duration of time. They may not be comfortable or they may look bulky or unusual, but wearing them can significantly improve your natural ability to heal, and the can also help to maximize the effects of both your liposuction and your fat transfer.
Making a Full Recovery
In the days following your surgery, you will start to feel less pain and have an easier time moving around. Although you will probably be advised to avoid heavy exercise for at least a few weeks following your procedure, you can and should be walking and moving around your house. Being at least a little active every day will help you avoid developing blood clots, which is a rare but serious complication of fat transfers.
You should make sure to avoid exposure to the sun and extreme hot or cold temperatures for the first few days after your procedure. Depending on the location and number of your incisions, your surgeon may also counsel you to avoid bathing or swimming for a few days or a week following your procedure. If you had fat taken or added to your face, you will probably also be asked not to wear makeup at first.
Normal side effects of fat transfers include some bruising, redness, and swelling, but the majority of these symptoms should go down within the first week (although it can take significantly longer for them to go away completely-see our "Seeing Your Full Results" section below for more information).
You will probably be able to return to work within a few days after your surgery, if your job does not demand a lot of physical activity. More strenuous labor that involves lots of heavy lifting will probably not be allowed for up to two weeks.
In addition to the usual restrictions following surgery, your doctor will probably ask you to avoid air travel for at least ten days following your procedure. This is because the changing pressures involved in flying can cause you some internal discomfort, and may even cause some of your injuries to reopen. Traveling by air can also increase the risk of developing blood clots.
One of the most important things you can do to ensure a healthy recovery is to keep your follow-up appointment with your surgeon, even if you feel fine. The surgeon will be better than you are at pinpointing any potential problems and correctly interpreting the signals your body is sending you, so it's important to get his input at the end of your recovery. The final visit also gives you one last chance to ask any questions about your surgery, the results or what you should do now.
Seeing Your Full Results
Some of the results of liposuction are usually noticeable within the first two days. The effects will continue to become more noticeable as the swelling goes down over the course of the week, but in some cases, it can take quite a while for all of the swelling to disappear. You should see all of the results of your liposuction within six months.
As for the fat transfer, those effects will be apparent right way-in fact, they will be more noticeable at first then they will be later on, because your post-operative swelling will add to the augmentation you've received. In addition, some of the fat that is implanted will die in the weeks and months following your surgery, which will cause the transplanted area to slim down a little over that time period. Exactly how long it takes for the injured fat to die off varies some from person to person, but it is usually safe to say that any results that are still visible six months after the treatment took place are there for good.
Things To Watch Out For
Fortunately, fat transfers are not generally very risky to your health, but like with any surgery, there are a few things that could potentially go wrong. When you leave the hospital or clinic, your doctor will give you and after-hours contact number where you can get in touch with him or her, or at least one of their colleagues, in case something goes wrong before or after normal business hours. Make sure you put that number in a safe place, and call if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- A fever more than two degrees above normal;
- A sudden sharp increase in your levels of pain;
- Excessive or worsening redness and swelling at the incision sites;
- Yellow or foul-smelling discharge leaking from the area;
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Numbness, dizziness, or suddenly limited mobility.
These are all possible symptoms of potentially serious conditions including infections, allergies to medications, and blood clots in the heart, lungs, or brain. If you cannot get in touch with your doctor, you should go to the nearest urgent care center or emergency room right away. Be sure to tell whoever treats you about the fat transfer you just had, and be prepared to provide a complete list of the medications you are taking.