After most body contouring surgery, especially liposuction and tummy tucks, post operative soft tissue swelling is a normal, natural occurrence. Basically, the skin, fatty tissue and muscle have been “traumatized” and they swell in response. To your body, the experience of surgery is the same as if you fell or were hit or had any other kind of accident. This is just the way the body heals itself.
So, as Plastic Surgeons, we use compression to help with the swelling. Usually after a body contouring procedure we recommend the patient wear some form of compression, be it a binder or girdle, for several weeks after surgery. The compression has many benefits. First, it minimizes the swelling, especially as you become more active at home and work. This in turn minimizes your discomfort. Almost 100% of my patients will tell me after surgery that they just feel better with compression. Secondly, especially in Liposuction cases, it helps the skin tighten and re-drape after the underlying fat cells have been removed. The amount of time one needs compression varies from patient to patient. Factors we consider are your age, skin quality, skin elasticity, amount of fat removed, and the scope of the procedure. In my practice, I usually recommend compression for at least 4-6 weeks but many patients will wear some form of compression for 2-3 months.
Every surgeon has his or her own practices so check with your doctor if you have questions. In general though, I think you will find most plastic surgeons feel as though there isn’t such thing as wearing your garment “too long”.
Lee E Corbett, MD
Medical Director, Corbett Cosmetic Aesthetic Surgery and MedSpa