How long will I be leaking after liposuction?
Dr. Darren Smith / July 24, 2020
First of all, I’ll start with why you might be “leaking” in the first place! Liposuction (more details here) is performed by inserting a long, thin, metal tube called a “cannula” through a 2-4mm well-hidden incision. The cannula is attached to a vacuum device that creates suction through the cannula, and this suction removes fat cells. Before we can perform this part of the procedure, the treatment area has to be specially prepared to minimize any bleeding or discomfort. This is accomplished by filling the treatment area with a fluid mixture (with a different kind of cannula) prior to removing the fat. This fluid is called “tumescent” solution, as it causes “tumescence” (swelling) of the treatment area. Usually composed of an electrolyte solution, lidocaine, and epinephrine, tumescent solution shrinks the blood vessels in the area and desensitizes local nerves. Liposuction using this kind of fluid (most that is performed in modern centers) is therefore often called “tumescent liposuction.” While a significant amount of this fluid is removed during the suction portion of the procedure, some is left behind. This is what may leak from your incisions after liposuction. The amount and duration of this leakage varies by the details of the procedure performed (like how much tumescent fluid was used and whether or not the incisions were closed). In general, we tell our patients to expect approximately 48 hours of some leakage and equip them to deal with it in a clean, comfortable manner.