Swelling is a normal part of the healing process following any cosmetic or plastic surgery procedures. It’s unavoidable, but there are some things you can do to minimise the swelling and improve your recovery time post-surgery.

Why swelling occurs after cosmetic procedures

Swelling after a cosmetic surgery procedure should be expected and is unavoidable during your recovery period. It’s your body’s natural reaction to an injury happens to the tissue and occurs when the inflammatory process is triggered.

Some swelling may also occur as a side effect of the anesthesia if used during the procedure.

Many general anesthetics used in surgery, whether it’s medical or cosmetic procedures such as a facelift, cause dilation of blood vessels and result in an increased amount of fluid building up in the surrounding tissue.

Swelling can present in varying degrees depending on the procedure. It’s also not uncommon to experience differential swelling during your recovery time where one of the treated sides appears more swollen than the other.

How long will the swelling occur?

The swelling will be noticeable immediately after the doctor has completed the procedure and is at its worst during the initial few days post-op. You may notice some relief in the swelling, one-week post-surgery but this will depend on the procedure.

In the Cosmos Clinic Instagram DM of the week, Dr Joseph Ajaka discusses the swelling after a BBL and shows a patients swelling results after one week. Watch below:


Approximately 75 per cent of the swelling will dissipate by week two of your recovery period. By week six, it’s estimated about 90 per cent of the swelling will be gone. It’s at this time you’ll begin to see the true results of your cosmetic procedure.

In addition to the swelling, most patients will experience bruising after a surgical or cosmetic procedure. Bruising will be most visible in the first few days post-surgery. For three to four days it’s natural to expect dark purple/blue bruises which will lighten by day five or six. Bruising typically resolves completely two weeks post-surgery.

Common cosmetic treatments you can expect swelling

Some of the common cosmetic and plastic surgery treatments you can expect swelling are:

How to minimise swelling after cosmetic surgery

While swelling and bruising may be unavoidable in most cases, there are some things you can do to reduce its appearance. In addition to these tips, it’s crucial to your overall recovery that you follow the post-operative care instructions from your doctor.

  1. Take time to rest
    During your recovery period, it’s important you take the time to rest. This allows your body to direct its energy and focus towards the healing process. Refrain from any intense physical activity and exercise, especially in the first weeks of recovery as instructed by your doctor.
  2. Wear your compression garments
    If you are given a compression garment after your procedure, make sure you wear it! Compression garments are designed to help control the swelling and minimise the bruising. These are particularly important for treatments such as liposuction, BBL, tummy tuck and breast reduction.
  3. Attend all lymphatic massage appointments
    Lymphatic massages help to stimulate the lymph system to drain any excess fluid from the treated areas. Like compression garments, lymphatic massages are a crucial aspect of your recovery time and results and will help with residual swelling.
  4. Apply cold compresses
    Applying cold compresses or ice packs to the treated area can help to ease discomfort and reduce swelling especially in the first-week post-surgery. The cold temperature causes the blood vessels to constrict, acting as a natural anti-inflammatory product. Make sure you wrap the compress or ice packs before putting on the body parts to avoid injuring the skin.
  5. Keep hydrated
    Make sure you drink plenty of water to improve hydration post-surgery. Drinking water will also help flush your system and aid the healing process.
  6. Consider natural supplements
    There are some natural anti-inflammatory supplements that may help with the healing process such as bromelain or arnica montana. Best to speak to your doctor or get advice from a qualified health professional before taking any herbal or natural supplement post-surgery.
  7. Maintain a nourishing diet
    Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables will aid recovery and help you maintain your results. Adding foods that fight inflammation such as garlic, salmon, broccoli, almonds, avocado and citrus may be beneficial.
    Take a look at foods you need to avoid to prevent scarring here.

What to avoid to minimise swelling after cosmetic surgery

  • Avoid smoking and smoke exposure
  • Avoid blood-thinning medications
  • Too much caffeine
  • Excess salt
  • Processed or fast foods