Updated: Jul 31
Lipo burn is a common complication of liposuction. Today it is common to combine the suction with a modality like a laser or ultrasound to liquefy the fat for easier suctioning and removal. These techniques produce thermal energy which creates heat which makes burns a common issue.
As with any burn you could expect to see a blister, redness and increased pain. These burns behave differently because it is not a surface burn but a deep injury. Essentially this is a burn from the inside out. The instrument in the body can too close to the dermis, burning the skin.
Some may be small injuries that resolve fairly quickly but others can progress to full open wounds requiring advanced wound care dressings for a good quicker healing process. Bruising may also be present but will fade a lot quicker whereas the lipo burn areas will continue to get darker. Eventually, that top layer of skin goes from red/purple to dry and black. The borders of the black tissue may list and start to open and ooze.
If you find yourself in the situation of caring for a lipo burn, here are some of my main recommendations which start by saying calling your surgeon and even your PCP if you do not live near your surgery location.
Remove the Faja OR go back to a Stage 1. If you notice dark purple/black/blistered skin a few days after your procedure, we want to prevent further tissue death. Avoid wearing extra tight compression that may restrict blood flow further causing more tissue death. Focus on other ways to decrease swelling like increasing water intake and moving more often. Deep breathing, elevating and pumping legs are all good ways to get the lymphatics flowing.
Boost Blood Flow. Allowing blood to reach the injured tissue is key to healing. Minimizing restrictive clothing and increasing movement are great to improve blood flow. We often tell folks to move at least once an hour after surgery. Get up take a walk, and drink lots of fluids, so you have to get up and go to the bathroom. Pump those ankles and squeeze/release as many muscles as you can. Foods and supplements can be a huge boost to your blood flow. Click the link for another Blog about supplements. Tens units could be beneficial to increase blood flow. Read more here
Consider HBOT. Hyperbaric oxygen is a treatment that involves you breathing in concentrated oxygen in a pressurized chamber. This therapy helps to increase the oxygen in the blood helping to heal the tissue faster. It may help to decrease swelling, pain and bruising as well. Once a highly specialized treatment performed only in hospitals, HBOT centers are becoming more widely available and worth looking into options near you.
Wound Care. Treatment of lipo burns may vary. While the area is dry and intact and not draining, try to keep it dry and protected. When skin is intact even if it's blistered and dark; the skin is still a natural barrier to infection. Once it starts to break open or the edges are peeling away, then we need to treat what we see. Dead tissue needs to be removed and the hole will need to be filled. Wet-dry is the most outdated treatments that is quite painful and can cause more damage. There are advanced products and wound care specialists that can support you in your healing.
Reach out if you need support. Use the help button to connect. Consider Booking a consult
If you are a clinician seeing clients after liposuctions, I put together a course with more information currently under review for LMT credits. PT credits are already approved in NYS and reciprocal states.