Wearing Compression Garments After Your Body Surgery

How wearing post-op compression garments can help surgery results

Compression garments can help recovery following most plastic surgical procedures. These garments are an essential part of after-surgery care following plastic surgical procedures such as abdominoplasty, breast surgery, liposuction and different post-weight loss body surgeries.

Why should I wear compression garments following liposuction and abdominoplasty?

As stated above, compression garments are an essential part of postoperative care and recovery. These garments can help accelerate the healing process of your body following liposuction or tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) surgery. In addition to accelerating recovery, it also reduces excessive skin following liposuction and helps achieve better contour to your abdomen following an abdominoplasty. Furthermore, it helps reduce postoperative pain, swelling, and bruising associated with these procedures.


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What are the benefits of using a body compression garment?

Helps reduce swelling.

  • Postoperative swelling can occur when excess fluid builds up in the cavities of your abdomen following an abdominoplasty or any site where liposuction is done. This results in you gaining weight. Compression garments can help alleviate swelling by applying appropriate pressure to the affected area by redistributing fluids. The pressure exerted by these garments helps compress lumps and bumps that appear following these procedures.

Reduces postoperative bruising.

  • The cannula used in liposuction disrupts blood vessels during the fat extraction process during its to and from motion. Compressive garments compress the blood vessels and prevent RBC breakdown and percolation. Thereby reducing bruising associated with the procedure. The chance of postoperative bruising is considerably higher in patients who do not use compressive garments.

Can help reduce postoperative pain.

  • Pressure applied by the compression garment helps keep your tissues in place following the surgery. This helps protect the incision site and inner structures from injury and also reduces the chance of pain and inflammation in the body.

Helps reduce postoperative loose skin.

  • A side effect of fat removal through liposuction is the creation of loose skin at the site of fat removal. By using compression garments you enhance your body’s healing. This is due to the fact that compression garments hold the skin to underlying tissues snugly following your surgery.

Helps reduce infection.

  • Compression garments act as physical barriers preventing direct contact of infectious agents with the incision site. Thus reducing the chances of infection.

Maintains postoperative changes in the correct shape.

  • The new contour to your abdomen following abdominoplasty or liposuction results are kept in the correct shape after the surgery by the postoperative use of these garments. Compression garments maintain postoperative changes in contour.

Promotes circulations.

  • Every surgery has a certain risk of clot formation and migration, including liposuction and abdominoplasty. Migrated clots can obstruct pulmonary vessels and cause pulmonary embolism, which is a life-threatening complication. Compression garments promote proper circulation and can reduce the formation of clots, thereby preventing clot-related complications.

Allows easy mobility

  • Garments help keep the tissues in place while you move around during your recovery. They allow easy mobility and comfort by reducing the chance of straining at the incision site.

Helps in the breakdown of keloids

  • Following these procedures, excess scar tissues may be formed around your healed wound resulting in keloid formation. Compression garments can help break down this scar tissue.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Body Compression Garments

How long do I need to wear compression garments following abdominoplasty?

  • Following surgery for your abdomen, you will be advised to wear compression garments for 6-8 weeks after the surgery. It should be worn throughout the day and should be removed only while you bathe. The exact time period on how long you should wear a compression garment is dependent on your surgeon’s protocol as well as your rate of recovery.

What happens if you don’t wear compression garments after liposuction?

  • Liposuction is a minimally invasive cosmetic surgical procedure where excess fat is permanently suctioned out from targeted areas of the body, reshaping and adding contour to that area. When the removal of fat occurs, you will have excess skin left behind. This results in visible loose skin around these areas. Compression bandages can reduce this by adhering to underlying tissue and help reduce swelling and bruising associated with the procedure. In the absence of compression garments, the excess skin left behind after liposuction becomes loose, resulting in suboptimal results.

What are Stage I and Stage II Garments in Liposuction and Abdominoplasty?

  • Immediately following liposuction or abdominoplasty surgery you will use stage one garments. They can help remove excess swelling due to fluid accumulation caused by body processes increasing circulation at the site of surgery. These garments allow easy drainage of fluids postoperatively. Stage one garments have zippers, hooks and eyes, which help reduce friction while wearing and removing. These garments are worn for 1 – 2 weeks or more, depending upon the surgery. Stage one garments are provided with an open crotch; this eliminates the need to remove the garment when using the bathroom.
  • Stage two garments are worn during the second stage of wound healing following the surgery. It is worn from the second postoperative week onwards (Usually 2-8 weeks). They are worn once your body is not creating as much fluid. They provide support to the newly contoured body. However, they do not have zippers, eyes or crotch openings. These garments provide similar compression as stage one garments and are ideal for day-to-day use.

How to choose the best compression garment?

  • An abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure wherein excess skin is removed from the stomach area. This leads to a smoother and tighter midsection.
  • It is a large body contouring plastic surgical procedure, and it requires the use of postoperative compression garments for up to 2 months following surgery. As this is a considerable amount of time, it is important to choose high-quality compression garments. The quality of the garment determines the extent of your comfort during the process of recovery.
  •  Some features to consider before getting compression garments to include;
    • Correct fit. It is essential to facilitate proper healing and proper fluid drainage.
    • The material of the garment should have Antibacterial properties that prevent bacterial growth on your abdominal skin. By controlling bacterial growth, you also decrease offensive odours.
    • Compression garments having breathable materials provide you comfort by reducing sweating and maintaining proper aeration. Furthermore, reduced moisture prevents bacterial growth.
    • It’s important the garment material is durable.
    • Compression garments having zippers or hook-and-eye closures reduce friction. These help in the easy removal of the garment when you require showering.
    • Also, an opening in the crotch area eliminates the need to remove the garment while using the bathroom.

Are there any other ways to reduce swelling in addition to compression garments?

  • There are a few things you can do to reduce swelling and fluid collection in addition to compression garments, which include:
    • Applying cold compresses at the swelling site. However, a cold compress should not be applied directly to the skin. Patients should wrap any cold compress (ice or gel pack) in cloth before applying it to the site of the swelling.
    • Elevating your incision site above the heart level helps in excess fluid drainage, thereby reducing swelling.
    • Reducing the intake of salty foods: Na+ ions in salty foods have water-holding properties, resulting in excess fluid accumulating in the body and causing it to swell. So it would be best if you reduced the intake of high-salt foods.
    • Avoid the use of diuretics.

How tight should your compression garment be after surgery? And how do you know it’s the correct fit for you?

  • Wearing compression garments that are too tight or too loose impairs healing and causes more harm than good.
  • These garments should ideally provide adequate support to your abdomen’s healing areas following liposuction or abdominoplasty without causing you discomfort.
  • It should snugly fit the new contours of your body.
  • A good way to determine if your garment is the correct size is to slide your hand inside the garment when you are wearing it. The garment is a good fit for you if you can do this without too much strain or ease.
  • Wearing garments that are too tight risks damage to blood vessels and bleeding, so garments of adequate size need be chosen.

Timeline for wearing garments

Stage One

The use of stage one garments begins immediately following surgery. They help remove excess swelling due to fluid accumulation caused by body processes increasing circulation at the site of surgery. These garments allow easy drainage of fluids postoperatively. They have zippers, hooks and eyes, which help reduce friction while wearing and removed. Patients will need to wear stage one garments for 1 – 2 weeks or more, depending upon the surgery’s nature. Stage one garments also have an open crotch, eliminating the need to remove the garment while using the bathroom. Patients in stage one garments should wear them 24/7. The only reasons to remove stage garments during this time are for bathing and garment cleaning.

Stage Two

The use of stage two garments occurs during the second stage of wound healing post-surgery. And are worn from the second postoperative week onwards (Usually 2-8 weeks). You will move on to stage two garments once your fluid retention starts to decrease. Unlike stage one garments, stage two garments do not have zippers, eyes or crotch openings. These garments provide similar compression as stage one garments and are ideal for day-to-day use. You can comfortably wear Stage two garments under clothing. However, they do not need to be worn 24/7.

Further Medical References:

About Dr Craig Rubinstein

Dr Craig Rubinstein FRACS (Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons) is an experienced Melbourne Specialist Plastic Surgeon for breast and abdominoplasty surgery.

Dr Rubinstein offers women personalised abdominoplasty surgery and all forms of cosmetic breast surgery.


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