While they may not receive a lot of attention, compression garments can be a patient’s best friend after plastic surgery, improving comfort during the early stages of recovery plus helping healing, so your results can look their best. Compression is almost always prescribed after liposuction, tummy tuck surgery, or other surgical body contouring procedures, and it can also be helpful after breast augmentation or breast lift to support your new breast shape.
In fact, compression is a key component of the Rapid Recovery Program for many of our New Jersey plastic surgery patients at the Parker Center, so we decided to share the “whys” and “hows” of compression to help you understand its benefits.
Compression can be a patient’s best friend after cosmetic surgery, helping to minimize swelling, promote faster healing, and support your new contours for optimal results.
What are compression garments?
When patients hear the phrase “compression garment,” they tend to think of Spanx, or the thick, tan stockings for sale in the drugstore to help with varicose veins. While similar in some ways, the compression garments we give our patients to wear after plastic surgery are pretty high-tech, specifically constructed to facilitate healing and enhance results.
Made from strong, synthetic fabrics such as nylon and lycra, post-op compression garments have a graduated, three-dimensional stretch that provides comfortable support and directs subcutaneous fluid (a.k.a. swelling) to be reabsorbed by the body. High-quality garments contain anti-microbial, breathable fabric both to improve comfort and prevent skin irritation.
Compression garments are available for nearly every part of the body, and come in a variety of styles and sizes. Body procedures typically require a garment that extends from below the breasts and fits at the bottom like a leotard or girdle, with openings to allow you to use the bathroom without taking the garment completely off. Following breast augmentation, patients sometimes are asked to wear a surgical compression bra, which looks similar to a high-impact sports bra without underwire. Following neck liposuction, patients are fitted with a compression strap that wraps around the back of the head and underneath the chin to form a “sling.”
Why do I need compression after liposuction (or any other procedure)?
We admit it. Compression garments aren’t the most attractive frocks you’ll find. However, the benefits for your comfort and results are well worth it:
- Compression minimizes swelling and pain. Having constant pressure on operated tissues helps to prevent excessive fluid from building up, and helps your body absorb fluid that does accumulate.
- Your results will look great sooner. The less swelling you have in the first place, the less time you’ll need to get rid of it. Without compression helping your body reabsorb fluid, post-op swelling can linger much longer than necessary.
- Your results will look better overall. Compression helps your skin contract to its new contours, which is especially important for optimal liposuction results. It also helps prevent a wrinkled appearance to skin after any body contouring procedure.
Wearing & caring for your compression garment after surgery
Compression should feel noticeably snug, and but not so tight that it causes discomfort or makes breathing difficult.
Dr. Parker will give you a specific time frame for how long you will need to wear compression. Typically, we advise patients to wear compression 24/7 for the first 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the procedure and extent of surgery. It’s okay to take the garment off to bathe or wash it, but the more you wear compression during your initial recovery, the more effective it will be in facilitating the healing process. After this first phase, expect to wear compression at night for several more weeks to promote healing and protect your scars as you sleep.
Keeping your garment clean will make wearing it more pleasant. Depending on the garment, you may be able to machine wash or hand wash it using mild soap.
How do I know if my compression garment fits correctly?
Compression should feel noticeably snug, and but not so tight that it causes discomfort or makes breathing difficult. Dr. Parker’s nurses will fit you for a garment after surgery that provides the optimal compression while keeping you comfortable. It’s not uncommon for garments to become too loose over time, as swelling goes down. In this case, we’ll have you move to a smaller size.
Have more pressing questions about plastic surgery? We can help!
If you’re considering liposuction or any other cosmetic procedure, the best way to learn the facts about surgery and recovery is to talk to an experienced, board certified plastic surgeon, such as Dr. Paul M. Parker at the Parker Center in Paramus, New Jersey. Feel free to contact us for a with Dr. Parker. He’ll spend as much time as you need to discuss your concerns and answer your questions about the procedures that interest you.