Why Compression Garments After Liposuction Are Important

Written by Cameron Erickson, MD, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on July 21, 2023 2 Comments

compression garments lipo

This post was originally published on August 6, 2021. Republished on July 21, 2023 with additional tips.

Compression garments are specialized garments designed to provide targeted pressure and support to the treated areas after liposuction surgery. By embracing these garments as part of a post-operative care routine, patients can optimize their recovery timeline, reduce swelling, and achieve the most satisfying results possible.

In this blog post, we will explore the world of compression garments and explore their significance in liposuction procedures. We will uncover the science behind these garments, understand how they work, and shed light on the multitude of benefits they offer

Understanding Liposuction and its Effects

Liposuction is a cosmetic surgical procedure designed to remove excess fat deposits from specific areas of the body, most commonly the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, hips, arms, back, and neck. Liposuction is intended to contour and reshape the body by targeting stubborn pockets of fat that are resistant to diet and exercise.

During liposuction, the tissues undergo trauma as a result of the surgical technique used to remove excess fat. The trauma includes the disruption of blood vessels, tearing of adipose (fat) tissue, and damage to surrounding structures.

Following liposuction, swelling, bruising, and inflammation are all normal occurrences during recovery. Compression garments, which we discussed earlier, can help minimize these side effects by applying gentle pressure to the area, aiding in fluid drainage, and promoting faster healing.

What Are Compression Garments?

Medical compression garments are made from strong, yet flexible, synthetic fabrics such as lycra or nylon. They are constructed in a manner that allows for graduated, multi-directional stretch, while maintaining pressure throughout the treatment area.

Compression garments come in a variety of sizes to accommodate differently sized bodies and various body parts. Depending on your liposuction procedure, you may be sent home with one or more compression garments for the abdomen, breasts, legs or arms, and neck or chin.

A proper fit will feel snug, but never painful. Your doctor may order you several sizes, to adjust pressure over time as your swelling goes down.

The Role of Compression Garments in Post-Liposuction Recovery

Compression garments are specialized clothing garments designed to provide targeted pressure and support to specific areas of the body, commonly used after liposuction and other surgical procedures. These garments are typically made of elastic materials that exert controlled pressure on the underlying tissues and promote optimal healing.

The benefits of wearing compression garments after liposuction include:

  • Improved blood circulation and lymphatic drainage
  • Reduced swelling and fluid buildup
  • Enhanced skin retraction and contouring
  • Minimized discomfort and pain
  • Protection against infection and seroma formation (abnormal fluid buildup)

Benefits Compression Garments Provide

Compression garments play a crucial role in preventing the formation of hematoma and seroma, which are potential complications that can occur after liposuction surgery.

Reduce Swelling

After your liposuction surgery, your body will produce fluids that can build up and become stagnant, causing uncomfortable swelling. By applying even, consistent pressure in the area of your procedure compression garments prevent fluid from accumulating for a decrease in swelling.

Reduce Bruising

Liposuction incurs trauma to the blood vessels just underneath your skin, which results in bruising as blood rises to the skin’s surface. Compression garments diminish the appearance of bruises by keeping blood away from the surface of the skin.

Minimize Pain or Discomfort

Many patients say compression garments help them feel more secure after their surgery, and make movement easier during the early recovery period. Compression garments have the ability to decrease pain, improve posture, and increase mindful care of the area impacted by your liposuction procedure.

Hematoma Prevention

Hematoma is the accumulation of blood within a surgical site. Compression garments help prevent hematoma formation by applying gentle pressure to seal off damaged blood vessels, reducing the risk of ongoing bleeding and minimizing the collection of blood.

Seroma Prevention

Seroma is the accumulation of serous fluid after liposuction. It occurs due to the disruption of lymphatic vessels and the body’s natural fluid production. The compression helps to close off the empty space, reducing the potential for fluid accumulation. By compressing the tissues, compression garments encourage the lymphatic system to absorb and eliminate excess fluid.

Scarring Prevention

Compression garments can play a role in minimizing scarring after liposuction surgery, although it is important to note that their primary purpose is not scar prevention but rather optimizing the healing process and enhancing overall outcomes. Compression garments provide gentle pressure and support to the treated area, which can help stabilize the healing tissues and help minimize tension on the incision sites and surrounding skin. Reduced tension can contribute to the formation of less noticeable scars.

Faster Recovery

Ways compression garments promote faster liposuction recovery:

  • Reduce postoperative edema (swelling)
  • Support the newly shaped body contours
  • Help maintain the integrity of the surgical site
  • Minimize the risk of skin irregularities and complications
  • Makes it easier to return to your pre-op exercise routine

Enhance Final Results

While it may not feel glamorous to wear compression garments, they will indeed enhance your final results. The supportive compression prevents skin from getting lax or wrinkled and assists in skin retraction for an improved, tighter contour.

How Long Do Compression Garments Have To Be Worn

The duration for which compression garments should be worn after liposuction can vary depending on several factors, including the extent of the procedure, the type of liposuction performed, the surgeon’s technique and recommendation, and the patient’s unique healing response. Patients should expect to wear compression garments at all times for at least the first six weeks following the procedure, removing them only for bathing and/or other wound care.

After the first three weeks following the procedure, the surgeon will assess the patient’s swelling and overall speed at which they are recovering. At this point, the patient may be instructed to switch to a smaller garment that accommodates for the reduction in swelling.

How Should Compression Garments Fit

While the surgeon can help find the right-fitting compression garments, a general rule is that the garments should be snug but not necessarily tight. As swelling goes down, the garments will start to fit differently and will require adjusting and even switching out for smaller sizes. It’s important to adjust the garments as needed to maintain their effectiveness throughout the recovery process.

Tips for Wearing and Caring for Compression Garments

Proper use and care of compression garments are essential for maximizing their benefits and supporting recovery after liposuction. The most important things to remember when wearing and caring for compression garments are:

  • Follow the surgeon’s instructions
  • Wear the garments consistently
  • Ensure garments fit properly and sizes are adjusted with reduction in swelling
  • Maintain good hygiene
  • Allow the garments to air dry after washing
  • Invest in spare garments (to help maintain proper hygiene)

What Can Happen if You do not Wear Compression Garments

While compression garments are commonly recommended after liposuction, the decision to wear them ultimately rests with the patient. However, it is important to understand the potential consequences of not wearing compression garments after liposuction. Issues with this route include:

  • Increased swelling. Without the support of compression garments, swelling may persist for a longer period, potentially causing discomfort and delaying the healing process.
  • Prolonged recovery. Without compression, it may take longer for the swelling and bruising to subside. This can extend the overall recovery timeline.
  • Uneven results. Without compression garments, there is a possibility of uneven contouring or an increased risk of irregularities in the treated area.
  • Increased risk of complications. Not wearing compression garments may increase the likelihood of hematoma and seroma, which can lead to discomfort, delayed healing, and the need for additional medical intervention.

Remember, wearing compression garments consistently and as instructed can significantly contribute to optimal healing, reduce swelling, and enhance the overall results after liposuction. However, it is crucial to balance the use of compression garments with comfort and well-being. If any concerns or discomfort related to wearing compression garments arise, communicate with the surgeon to ensure the best course of action.

Cameron Erickson, MD

Dr. Cameron Erickson is a native Texan and board certified plastic surgeon practicing in the Southwest Parkway and Dripping Springs locations. Dr. Erickson specializes in aesthetic procedures including rhinoplasty, brow lifts, eyelid surgery, lip lifts, facelifts, breast augmentation and lifts, breast reduction, body contouring and liposuction, abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck), brachioplasty (Arm Lift), 360° liposuction with fat transfer to the buttocks, vaginal rejuvenation, and hormone replacement therapy. In addition, he has had additional training in non-surgical treatments including injectables (Botox/fillers), lasers, and skin resurfacing treatments.

2 Responses to “Why Compression Garments After Liposuction Are Important”

  1. Avatar Edgar says:

    I had a smartlipo on my flanks and waist area at Westlake Dermatology in San Antonio, Tx with Dr. Malini Fowler and on my 5 day Post-op appointment of my surgery she told me i don’t have to wear my compression garments anymore but my area is still swollen and she saw it, that left me intrigued, what do you have to say about that? Do you agree with her?

  2. WD Staff WD Staff says:

    Hi Edgar,

    Great question! The time a patient needs to wear compression can vary due to many different factors. We always recommend following the directions of your surgeon.

    That said, you can always reach out to your provider to discuss the issue further. Please feel free to call Dr. Fowler’s team to ask further questions on that recommendation.

    WD Staff

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