Support Compression Garments – How They Help After Tummy Tuck or Liposuction

Support Compression Garments after Plastic Surgery

When you get liposuction or a tummy tuck, or both, your Surgeon will typically advise you to wear compression garments (special post-op support garments).  These are similar to what some call ‘girdles,’ and there are many different types and styles – but your Surgeon will have specific ones in mind for you.

Read below to find out more about this important post-op liposuction or post-op tummy tuck or body lift topic.

The first few weeks after a body lift, tummy tuck or liposuction surgery, is when your tissues are changing and healing in your body.  With abdominal surgeries, a lot of the excess fat has been removed as well as quite a bit of the excess skin.

This means that inside the treated areas, your skin and other tissues are beginning to react to the surgery, as they journey towards settling down and shifting into what will be your “new” reshaped body.

In a Tummy Tuck operation, you can get a flatter or more ‘firmly toned’ stomach area because excess skin and fat is removed; along with abdominal muscle repair and repositioning of the navel.  When a proper Tummy Tuck is performed by a fully qualified Plastic Surgeon, the abdominal muscle injuries are also surgically repaired (as many patients have split or injured abdominal muscles that contribute to a permanent pouch – but these can often be corrected during surgery). But you WILL have a lot of swelling and body changes until you are fully healed, and that’s why you’ll need to follow your post-surgical instructions exactly.

The primary reason why your Surgeon will advise you to wear a compression garment as part of your healing instructions is:

  • to hold the skin that remains after surgery closer to the underlying tissues
  • to minimise swelling if possible
  • to allow the tissues to heal and merge successfully

Sheryl Brown’s Tummy Tuck Journey

 How Long Do You Wear These Compression Garments after Liposuction or Tummy Tuck?

Answer: 6 to 8 weeks or longer for some procedures

Although you can take them off to shower, you’ll otherwise need to wear the recommended compression garments 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – for six to eight weeks up to 12 weeks after your Surgery (Plastic Surgeon Richard Barnett will give you individually specific advise about wearing your garments).

You should take the garment off when you bathe and of course, you can also remove or replace the garment with a fresh one when you change your clothes.

Surgeons tip: You may wish to get three or four compression garments so that you could alternate wearing them and not have to do laundry so much.

Some Surgeons believe that wearing the garments 10 to 12 hours a day may be enough, but ask Mr Barnett why he gives longer wearing time advice – and get him to show you his Before & After photos to see his excellent results.

The compression garments you are asked to wear can come in many formats or different brands.

You may be asked to wear a full-body compression garment or one that is only meant for the abdomen, or one that covers the thighs through the upper abdomen (some are full-body, others have suspenders at the top to help keep the garment in place – and there are some that end just below the bra area).

Essentially, these surgical support garments act as a firm girdle – you’ll feel that it ‘holds you together’ and despite occasional discomforts of having to wear it all the time for many weeks, most patients report it leaves them feeling better supported and more at ease when moving around – not excessively of course – after surgery.

merena compression after tummy tuck or liposuction

7 Reasons to Wear Your Compression Garments after a Tummy Tuck or Liposuction

The advantages of wearing compression garments are listed below:

  1. Reduces swelling
  2. Prevents bleeding in the area
  3. Holds the skin against the muscle (helps with tissue restructuring e.g. healing)
  4. Easier to move around when you wear it: you’ll feel your body is more supported than without one
  5. Promotes blood circulation
  6. Helps you stand up straight even though you may be uncomfortable after the surgery
  7. You’ll start to envision how good you will look without it (soon)

Why Do Some Plastic Surgeons Not Suggest Compression Garments?

The answer to this question really depends on the type of Surgery that the Surgeon is performing and their preference for how they’re going to minimize swelling and the collection of fluids. But most Plastic Surgeons recommend garments. They’ll also have numerous patient case histories indicating that the best results often come from wearing the right support garments for the suggested amount of time after surgery. For many procedures, the support garments are even crucial to the healing and body contouring process.  So don’t take your post-op care lightly – be sure to follow your Surgeon’s specific instructions to get the best body contouring results from your upper, lower or full tummy tuck, Belt Lipectomy, Body Lift, Thigh Reduction or Abdominoplasty surgery.

Surgical Drains or no drains?

Some Surgeons, however, may decide to use drains, but others find these too cumbersome to use or uncomfortable for patients and prefer the supportive compression garments.  What the surgery procedure is and how it’s performed, along with other factors, will impact whether or not you need drains.  However, even in this scenario, the drains are often only in place for a few weeks after surgery, and then you’ll still usually need to wear the compression garments to help reduce the fluid collection and swelling that is natural after surgery.

Some Surgeons may also use a specific type of suture that keeps the skin stay close to the underlying muscles during healing. In this case, it’s possible that your Surgeon might not think it’s as critical for you to wear the compression garments; but for the most part, DO expect that you’ll be wearing them for at least 2 months on average, sometimes a bit less and sometimes a bit longer.

Tips to Reduce Swelling Besides Compression Garments

Swelling is a natural body reaction to surgery, although excessive swelling can indicate a complication. Be sure you fully understand what swelling is natural and alert your Surgical team and a medical professional

There are, of course, a few other things you can do to minimize the swelling and collection of fluids that occurs after the surgery.

  • Two suggestions are to, first of all, avoid salty foods, and then secondly, to avoid diuretics.
  • Salty foods will increase the swelling in the body because salt holds water and pulls it to itself.
  • The diuretics work systemically – through the bloodstream – but never locally in one specific area, and can potentially leave you dehydrated.

Choosing Your Plastic Surgeon for a Tummy Tuck or Liposuction Procedure

Remember the basic guidelines for always choosing the best plastic surgeon:

  1. Always select a local, board-certified Plastic Surgeon (look for FRACS and ASAPS or ISAPS).
  2. Select a Surgeon who specifically has decades of experience performing tummy tuck or liposuction surgeries or whatever other procedure(s) you are wanting to be done.
  3. Make sure you ask the question of WHERE your surgery will be performed. The answer you are looking for is that your Surgeon performs operations in a fully accredited Hospital.
  4. Make sure you meet with the Plastic Surgeon directly, for an extended consultation before you consent to Surgery.  Some Surgeons just have you meet with staff and you never see them until the operating day.  You may even want to have two consultations or get a second opinion if you remain in doubt; because it’s a collaborative procedure process where you’ll want to have great communication with your Surgeon and feel comfortable you’re getting the right Specialist Surgeon for your procedure.
  5. This will give you plenty of time to get to know the Surgeon and see if your personality and surgical needs mesh with his personality and his communication style. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t, because there are other Plastic Surgeons in Melbourne.
  6. Look at plenty of photos to see how the patients looked before and after. This is a showcase of the Surgeons work.
  7. Ask about the compression garments if you are concerned about them.

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To find a surgeon near you visit our Plastic Surgeons Directory HERE. To find more information send us an enquiry below or call us on (03) 8849 1464 and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.


Further Reading about Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty