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How Long Does Water Retention Last After Surgery?

Surgical patients often ask, “how long does water retention last after surgery.” The answer depends on the individual and the surgery they are having. However, in general, post-surgical edema can last as long as six weeks. You can certainly expect some water retention for a couple of weeks after surgery. However, post-operative edema is normal and not a medical concern. It will subside naturally with time.

Why Does The Body Retain Water After Surgery?

Post-operative edema or fluid retention after surgery is normal and common. However, even though it isn’t usually a medical concern, it can be irritating and uncomfortable. Edema is swelling in the body due to extra fluid building up in response to inflammation. The body may retain water all over, or the edema may be in just one area. Often, it especially affects the legs, feet, and abdomen. Water retention causes swelling and puffiness as well as weight gain.

Edema occurs because fluid gets stuck in the tissues of the body. During surgery, tissue manipulation and incisions damage the body and trigger its normal healing response. Proteins and white blood cells flood the surgical site to combat infection and promote healing. That causes a build-up of fluids that presents as swelling.

Hormonal changes due to surgery also reduce kidney function, making it harder to get rid of water in the body. That also contributes to edema.

As a result of all these factors, your body can retain a significant amount of fluid after any surgical procedure. That holds true even for cosmetic procedures like liposuction.

Also Read: How Can I Reduce Swelling After Ankle Fat Removal

When Is Swelling After Surgery At Its Worst?

Immediately after your surgery, your body will begin to store fluids. At first, the swelling may not be especially noticeable, but it will gradually worsen. Post-surgical water retention and swelling reach their peak after around 72 hours. At that time, you may feel and look quite swollen. The swelling should then begin to subside but may not go down completely for several weeks. In some cases, you will still have some post-operative swelling for up to 6 weeks or even longer. The majority of the swelling will have gone down within a couple of weeks, though.

Do I Need To Treat Post-Surgical Water Retention?

A lot of patients worry about edema after undergoing surgery. They have concerns about weight gain after their procedure. Water retention can cause a patient to put on as much as five pounds to 10 pounds post-surgery. That can be distressing for patients, especially if they’ve had a body contouring procedure. They were hoping to look slimmer but instead feel bigger than ever.

Post-surgical water retention is entirely normal, and it’s usually nothing to worry about, medically speaking. Nevertheless, it can be unattractive and uncomfortable. Your surgeon should advise you about the possibility of edema after your procedure. They should tell you how long it’s likely to last and how to manage it most effectively. It’s essential to recognize that weight gain due to water retention isn’t like weight gain from excess fat. It doesn’t mean that you’ve become fatter after your surgery. It just means that your body is responding to the trauma by storing water. It will go away on its own with time.

Medical treatments are available to treat edema. Diuretic pills are one option that can get rid of excess water in the body. In some severe cases, you may need steroid treatments, but that is rare and usually unnecessary. These medications aren’t usually required, though, as the body resolves edema on its own with time. For most patients, edema goes away after a few weeks with no need for any medical intervention.

Can I Get Rid Of Post-Surgical Edema More Quickly?

Even when a patient needs no medical intervention to resolve their post-surgical edema, they may want to speed up their recovery. Water retention is uncomfortable to live with and can be embarrassing. Fortunately, there are certain actions you can try to get rid of water retention more quickly after surgery. These include:

• Eating healthy. You should avoid salty processed foods and eat more whole foods, fruits, and vegetables.
• Drinking lots of water to flush out the system.
• Doing gentle exercise after a couple of days to promote better blood circulation around the body.
• Wearing your compression garments as prescribed by your surgeon to exert even pressure across the treated area and reduce edema.
• Undergoing gentle massage of the treated area to improve circulation and lymph flow.
• Keeping the treated area elevated to minimize swelling.

A skilled surgeon will tell you what to avoid and what to do to minimize water retention after surgery. They will also arrange follow-up appointments to check on your healing process. To find out more about post-operative edema and how it could affect you, get in touch with the ArtLipo team.

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