Well, now of course.
No, seriously–this advice is not coming from someone who makes a living contouring women’s bodies. This is girlfriend-to-girlfriend chat, from someone who’s had it done herself–about how and when to do it on the down-low. Because if you’ve been thinking about it, pinching those areas you just can’t get rid of at the gym, and years have gone by because there’s always a scheduling conflict, the time window between Halloween and Thanksgiving is as optimal as it’s going to get. It’s like everyone always says, “there’s never a good time to have kids,” except I can pretty much guarantee that having liposuction is much easier.
The deal-breaker for most of us when we want to “get something done” is the down-time. With body contouring, these are the main questions:
For how long am I going to be out of commission?
Fortunately, the thing about lipo is that since there is no muscle work involved in the procedure, (like when you have a breast augmentation, and the muscle has to be lifted to place the implant) and there are no big incisions to protect postoperatively (like with a tummy tuck or breast reduction), you are limited only by your own discomfort. There’s really nothing that you’re going to do that will “ruin” your results. All that’s going to happen if you “overdo” it is that you will get tired, achey, and more swollen. I recommend to my patients to take a week off from “responsibilities”(i.e. work, participation in school activities, social gatherings, strenuous exercising) but it’s not a week in bed. You can do whatever your body allows you to do. That’s not to say that you should do what I did–go Christmas shopping the next day and suddenly realize six hours into it, half a mile from your car in the mall parking lot, that you’re not feeling so great. Because the truth is, after lipo you don’t really feel “sharp” pain. Speaking from my own experience–and most of my patients agree–it just feels like you worked out really, really, really hard. Like you did a million sit-ups or ran a marathon. Just, no matter how good you think you feel, don’t stray too far from your home or mode of transportation.
But how long till I can work out again?!?
I know, I know, telling many of you that you probably won’t be able to work out strenuously for a few weeks strikes fear in your hearts. But guess what? For about a month to six weeks after surgery, your body is in stress mode, and your metabolism is jacked up about one and a half times normal while it’s healing. Your body doesn’t know you did this crazy thing on purpose–on a cellular level you may as well have just been in a car accident or had a sixty percent body surface area third-degree burn. So if you just eat as you usually do, even if you’re not doing five days a week of cardio and pilates, you won’t gain weight. You may actually lose more. You’ll be the only person who comes back to the office the Monday after Thanksgiving not complaining about how all you did was eat all weekend and you just gained six pounds.
So when am I going to look normal?
Back to this again. Even with body contouring procedures that you can hide under your clothes, there are different definitions of “normal.” (see previous post: How long after having my eyes done will I look “normal” again, and what does that have to do with the CW’s new show, “Emily Owens, MD”?)
Postoperatively, you will need to wear a compression garment (or what many of my patients fondly refer to as “the suit”) to reduce the swelling. For upper body lipo including arms, my patients usually only wear it for a week or two, as the swelling in that area goes down pretty quickly. For the lower body (muffin top, abdomen, inner/outer thighs, knees) you really should be wearing something for six weeks. Yes, the first one we put you in is pretty industrial-grade but after a couple of weeks you can switch to something thinner and lighter like a Spanx®. Regardless, even the surgical compression garments (we get really cute ones from Design Veronique®, see below) can be easily hidden under clothes:
Just maybe not your skinny jeans the first week out.
So it will be easy to hide your little secret from your extended family over Thanksgiving weekend and your colleagues when you go back to work.
But by the time the Holidays roll around, you’ll be ready to go in your little black cocktail dress .
What about my significant other?
Well, if you’re married, you’re probably going to have to tell your husband. At least, I would hope so.
But if you’re in a relationship and you don’t live together, there are ways around fessing up. I’ve pretty much heard it all, from “I told him the suit is a back brace” to “He’s colorblind and can’t see the incisions.” The “suits” we get for our patients (and we are in the process of designing our own “Lipo Queen” line!) are cute enough that he might even think it’s some kind of planned sexy lingerie (“Look, Honey, open crotch!” ) After a couple of weeks, the bruising should be gone and you can intermittently take the garment off. If your partner isn’t colorblind, and he’s not particularly savvy, you might be able to convince him that the tiny incisions were mole removals.
This is how one of my patients handled it:
He said, “What are those?”
I said, “Oh, I had those moles taken off.”
He said, “What moles?”
I said, “Don’t you remember? I had those moles and I told you I had to get them taken off! You never listen to anything I say!”
And you better believe he backed off.
Or you can always use the foolproof back-up, “I had to have a surgery for…you know…it was one of those female things…” and you know he’ll immediately change the subject.
Hope this answered some of your questions! If you have more, ask away!