Do I have to wear compression garments after a Tummy Tuck?
My doctor says compression garments don't have any impact on the Tummy Tuck outcome and that I should avoid them. They are a bit of an ordeal but I wouldn't say no to wearing them if I knew they were really necessary. I feel that I need a second opinion on this. Can anyone please help me? Thank you!
That's a good question, and you'll likely hear opinions on both sides of the fence. I wouldn't say compression garments are absolutely essential, but in my experience they are beneficial following a tummy tuck.
Compression garments not only minimize swelling, but help to prevent the build up of fluid following tummy tuck surgery.
The complication we try hard to avoid is the excessive accumulation of serum (or blood) beneath the skin.
Serous fluid is released when the skin and fat are separated from the underlying tissue during plastic surgery. During the post-op period, this fluid can form a seroma, or a pocket of fluid. By using tummy tuck compression garments like abdominal binders (as well as abdominal drains) we can help to prevent fluid build-up and accelerate the healing process.
Many patients also find that they actually feel more comfortable wearing a compression garment after surgery.
But this isn't to say that compression garments are “really necessary”. If your plastic surgeon says otherwise, I suggest following his or her advice. Always remember to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon for best practices and results.
I can't provide any direct medical advice without a consultation, but generally speaking surgery compression garments are not essential to a successful recovery. But they can be helpful.
Post-op compression garments are also commonly used after breast augmentation, liposuction surgery and many other cosmetic surgery procedures in addition to tummy tucks. In many cases patients prefer to wear post-op garments because they provide additional support to the treated area after surgery.
Compression garments may help to reduce swelling and inflammation and can accelerate the recovery time. Additionally, they may help to prevent the collection of serous fluid beneath the skin.
Left unresolved, a fluid build up can persist for many months and cause a hardening of the surrounding tissue -- so it's important to prevent this from happening in the first place. By using surgical drains and post surgical compression garments we can ensure a smoother recovery process.
Does that mean compression garments are essential? No, I'm not aware of any studies that prove conclusively post-surgery garments result in consistently better outcomes. Since your plastic surgeon is directly familiar with your case, I recommend following the advice you have been given.
Kimberly Henry has 2 Tummy tuck before & afters:
I use compression of some form on all of my tummy tucks, either a wraparound abdominal binder or panty girdles, or both. I believe it helps trememdously with reducing the overall healing time. One of the most common complications of a tummy tuck is the accumulation of fluid (serum or blood) in the space created by releasing the skin/fat from the underlying muscle layer in order to pull this tight. Even a small amount of postoperative seepage can result in a large collection over several days. For this reason, I always put in drainage tubes as well as use external compression. The tubes typically come out a week later, in the first postoperative visit and the compression is discontinued about a week later, after I feel comfortable that fluid buildup is unlikely. Most patients do not complain about the compression. Many ask to continue it for a while stating that it makes them more comfortable.
Hope this helps,
R. Bosshardt, MD, FACS
There are no major studies that I am aware of that show compression garments help or hurt. Most plastic surgeons however, do recommend compression garments after body contouring procedures, largely because patients actually find it useful to have support. You should discuss it further with your surgeon to make a final decision.