Compression garments are clothing items that are made up of stretchable and breathable material that should be worn on the area treated after any kind of surgery. They play a role in your recovery by minimising swelling, limiting excess movement and preventing fluid retention. Compression garments are an important part of post-operative care. Whether you are getting liposuction, breast augmentation mammoplasty, breast reduction mammaplasty surgery, abdominoplasty, or any other kind of cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, wearing a compression garment is essential.
Most cosmetic surgery patients would do anything to feel more comfortable after surgery. A good quality compression garment is designed with this in mind. A good compression garment can help to promote faster healing and will offer adequate support to your body.
We often get questions regarding compression garments. In this article, we will discuss the importance of wearing your compression garment post-surgery.
Guide to Recovery
Importance of Wearing a Compression Garment
The use of a compression garment after any kind of surgical procedure is a crucial part of the recovery. Apart from helping to accelerate the healing process, improving postoperative prognosis, reducing pain, and minimising swelling, they also help stabilise postoperative changes and make the recovery process smooth.
It plays a crucial role in the outcome of the surgery and helps prevent complications such as blood clot formation and poor circulation.
When is a Compression Garment Useful?
The general recommendation is to wear compression garments after the following surgeries: tummy tuck or abdominoplasty, body lift procedures, arm lift (brachioplasty), breast surgeries (reduction mammaplasty, breast lift mastopexy, and augmentation mammoplasty), liposuction, facelift (rhytidectomy), and neck lift (platysmaplasty).
Using a Compression Garment Post-Surgery
Following are some of the reasons why wearing a compression garment post-surgery is important:
· Reduced Bruising
A compression garment will help reduce extreme bruising after any kind of plastic surgery. Any kind of surgical process will cause some level of disruption to the blood vessels which leads to bruising around the surgical site. The post-operative garments will decrease bruising by preventing blood cells from migrating toward the skin.
· Reduced Swelling
The swelling post-surgery is caused by fluid build-up in the tissues of the affected region. By wearing a compression garment, the swelling can be reduced greatly. This is due to the fact that the compression garment puts pressure on the affected area and thereby minimises swelling.
· Prevents Skin Sagging
The compression garments are designed to hold the skin tightly which helps accelerate the process of healing. Moreover, they offer adequate support to hold your skin in place, thereby preventing lumps and sagging of skin.
· Boosts Blood Circulation
Limited mobility post the surgery can cause improper blood circulation which sometimes leads to the formation of blood clots. These clots are quite dangerous and can prove to be fatal. Wearing a compression garment post-surgery will lead to effective blood circulation and minimise the risk of blood clot formation. Proper circulation helps with wounds healing and reduces the chance of infections.
· Minimises Post-Operative Pains
A compression garment can minimise swelling, promote circulation, and accelerate the recovery process. Once the inflammation is reduced, you might experience less pain. Moreover, the even pressure on the affected site can minimise pain and help you stay comfortable through the recovery phase.
Timeline for Wearing Compression Garments
While choosing the right compression garment is of critical importance, understanding the timeline for wearing one is equally critical. Below is the information that will come in handy for your recovery time frame:
1. The First Stage
The first stage of recovery typically lasts around four weeks post-surgery. And this is the time to wear first stage compression garments. During this timeframe, you will be required to wear a compression garment 24/7 and only take it off when showering. Good quality garments are adjustable and are made with comfortable material that reduces friction and offers comfort. The ultimate goal of first stage garments is to reduce the swelling and bruising.
2. The Second Stage
Second stage garments are required to be worn when the initial swelling has subsided. This time period typically occurs four weeks after the surgery and Dr Hunt recommends wearing second stage garments for 2 to 8 weeks, depending on the type of surgery. These garments are way more comfortable as compared to the first stage ones. You won’t be required to wear these garments 24/7 and you can take them off at night.
3. The Third Stage
You will start to see the results of the surgery at this stage. The post-operative swelling significantly subsides within three months. Dr Hunt might recommend wearing third stage compression garments if your swelling hasn’t subsided by now.
Choosing the Right Compression Garment Post-Surgery
It is very important to select a high-quality garment after having a thorough discussion with Dr Hunt. The right garment can make the recovery process easier, minimise discomfort, and prevent all sorts of complications. Patients are required to use a compression garment for a minimum of six weeks, following major surgery. In the case of smaller procedures, wearing them for four weeks is enough.
Regardless of the type of surgery, it is important to select the one which is comfortable to wear. Make sure that your compression garment is made with high-quality material that has antibacterial properties. This prevents any kind of bacterial growth on the skin and speeds up the recovery.
Make sure that the material is breathable and can keep the treatment site dry. You don’t want the treated area to be covered with sweat. The garment needs to be stretchable and fit snugly on the treated part of your body. The moisture-wicking properties of the garment keep your skin dry, prevent the spread of bacteria and offer optimum comfort while eliminating any kind of odour. Look out for seamless designs as they prevent any kind of skin irritation. Your compression garment needs to have a zipper, and eye closure as it enables you to get in and out of the compression garment with ease, preventing friction and straining.
Tips to Reduce Swelling Post Surgery
Swelling is your body’s natural response to any kind of trauma caused to the tissues during a surgical procedure. Most of the swelling starts to subside by week two, provided you are following all the instructions given by Dr Hunt. While wearing a compression garment is one of the very important aspects of reducing swelling, here are a few additional aspects to keep in mind:
- Stay clear of salty foods as they can cause water retention which leads to prolonged swelling
- Use a cold compress on the treatment site to help constrict the blood vessels and reduce swelling
- Do not use diuretics as they do not help in removing localised swelling
- Try keeping the swollen part elevated: it helps to drain excess fluids and can minimise swelling
FAQ’s about Compression Garments after Surgery
Here is a list of frequently asked questions we get regarding compression garments:
What do compression garments do?
- Compression garments have many benefits: they reduce pain and swelling after the surgery, reduce skin bruising, make the recovery process easier, prevent infections, help maintain the newly achieved contours and improve the results of the surgery while speeding up the healing process.
Can I sleep without my compression garment?
- It depends on which stage of recovery you are at. During the first stage of recovery, you will need to wear compression garments 24/7 and have to wear them even when sleeping. During this time, you are only allowed to take it off while taking a shower. This phase of recovery lasts for 4 weeks in most cases. Once the initial phase of recovery is over, you can remove the garments before sleeping. Make sure to check in with Dr Hunt before doing so.
WHAT are stage 1 and stage 2 garments?
- Stage 1 Garments
Stage one garments are supposed to be worn immediately after surgery. They help prevent fluid accumulation along with post-operative bruising. These garments cause the excess fluid to drain away easily. They generally have zippers, hooks and eyes and minimise friction. Based on the nature of your surgery, these garments are needed to be worn for 2 to 4 weeks after the surgery.
- Stage 2 Garments
Stage two garments are worn during the second phase of recovery. They are to be worn 2 to 4 weeks after the surgery and must be worn for at least four weeks. The second stage garments offer support to the newly contoured body and do not have zippers or eyes and can be easily worn underneath the clothes.
What happens if I don’t wear compression garments after liposuction?
- Liposuction is a surgical procedure that involves the use of a suction technique to help eliminate fat from certain parts of the body. The procedure can lead to swelling and sagging skin. The compression garments hold the skin and underlying tissues tightly and minimise the chances of sagging skin and lump formation.
How long should I wear a compression garment after a tummy tuck/abdominoplasty?
- A tummy tuck/ abdominoplasty is certainly one of the most complex body contouring procedures. The surgery causes damage to the tissues which can lead to swelling. You have to wear a compression garment for a minimum of eight weeks to speed up the healing process.
Do compression garments help tighten skin?
- Yes, compression garments help to tighten the skin. They hold the underlying tissues and reduce sagging to get ideal results and prevent loose skin.
How tight should your compression garment be after surgery?
- The compression garment needs to be snug enough to offer adequate support, and apply even pressure, but shouldn’t be tight enough to lead to discomfort. Regarding sizing, you can discuss this issue with Dr Hunt. If something is causing extreme discomfort, it will do more harm than good.
Can compression garments cause swelling?
- No, the right compression garment will reduce swelling. However, if you choose a compression garment that is too restrictive or tight for you, it could lead to fluid build-up and increase the risk of lymphedema.
Does compression help with belly fat?
- No, they don’t help with belly fat. There is no evidence that suggests that a compression garment will result in fat or weight loss. However, they do get rid of excess fluids which can make your belly look smaller and give the illusion of weight loss.
Further Reading about Body Contouring Procedures
- Read Dr Hunt’s Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty Surgery page
- Read Dr Hunt’s Body Surgery page
- Read Dr Hunt’s Post Weight Loss Surgery page
- Read Dr Hunt’s Patient Case Study of Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty
- See Dr Hunt’s Real Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty Patients Before and After Photos
Medical References about Compression Garments
About Dr Jeremy Hunt – Specialist Plastic Surgeon Sydney
Dr Jeremy Hunt is a specialist plastic surgeon performing breast, body, face and nose surgery. He is a member of FRACS & ASPS and has over 20 years of experience providing cosmetic and plastic surgery in Sydney.
Dr Hunt’s personal, one-on-one service and attention to detail has ensured that thousands of women and men from the Sydney & Wollongong NSW area and across Australia have received high quality surgical care.
Dr Hunt’s qualifications and education
Dr Jeremy A Hunt MBBS FRACS graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine degree from Sydney University in 1990 and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and member of ASPS – the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. He completed a Fellowship at the prestigious University of Texas in the United States, where he learnt from some of the world’s very best plastic surgeons.
Next Step – Make an Enquiry or Request a consultation with Dr Hunt
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- Make an Enquiry or Request a consultation with Dr Hunt
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health professional.