Healing from Cosmetic Surgery: Why You Wear Compression Garments

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Whether you’ve already had a cosmetic procedure such as a breast lift, liposuction or abdominoplasty or are considering one, you may be wondering why your surgeon has prescribed the use of a compression garment following your procedure. A compression garment is a foundation garment you wear under your clothing like a bra or underwear. The difference between compression garments and regular undergarments is that compression garments are more like the shapewear you might use to smooth out the appearance of body fat underneath your clothing. The major difference is compression garments aren’t for hiding flaws. They’re important medical-grade garments designed to help the body heal from cosmetic surgery procedures.

When you undergo a procedure such as an abdominoplasty, liposuction or breast lift, your compression garment will greatly aid in the healing of your body.  Immediately following your procedure, your compression garment helps by applying pressure to the affected area, reducing swelling and helping your body drain excess fluids. Following an abdominal liposuction procedure, for example, the body will likely still be full of excess lidocaine and tumescent fluid, which is used to help separate the body fat from the abdominal wall and to reduce bleeding. Wearing compression garments following abdominal liposuction helps your body not only heal in a desirable shape, but it helps this excess fluid drain upward and out of your body. If your liposuction is accompanied by an abdominoplasty, or "tummy tuck," compression garments can aid in preventing a dangerous accumulation of fluids in the body called a seroma. Seromas often require additional emergency surgeries and can cause additional scarring.

For breast augmentations and lifts, compression garments are also recommended. Many patients may be required to wear a compression bra around the clock for the first few weeks following their procedure. This will help keep swelling down and hold implants in place. Depending on the procedure and individual patient, compression bras may be required for longer periods, until a regular non-underwire bra is safe.  It is often recommended that patients avoid underwire bras immediately following surgery, as these bras can irritate the skin and nerves underneath the breast during the healing process.

Patients undergoing breast augmentation may also be required to wear a device called a compression strap. A compression strap is a garment which is used to help hold breast implants into a natural position. Usually, augmentation patients wear compression straps for up to 6 weeks, but this may vary by individual patient.

Compression garments serve many purposes. They can help reduce blood clots and keep your skin, including your incision, from moving during sleep or when you are walking around.  While they may not be the most comfortable thing to wear following surgery, they really do make a dramatic difference in your healing and overall results. If you are prescribed a compression garment following your procedure, please wear it exactly as instructed and don’t think your surgeon won’t find out if you don’t wear it. Cosmetic surgery is a big investment in your time, money and physical endurance. To achieve the best possible results, it’s important to follow your surgeon’s instructions before and after the procedure and don’t try to cheat the system!

If you have any questions about how to wear, care for or purchase a compression garment, please give Dr. Mitchell’s office a call at 702-430-1198.

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