How Tight Should a Compression Garment Be?

I am one day post op for lipo of the abdomen and flanks. The compression garment I was sent home in had clasps up the front (with pads under to absorb drainage), shoulder straps and a hole in the crotch. It wasn't extremely tight and felt like my lower abdomen/groin weren't being compressed much, and were swelling up as well as jiggling when I moved. I put spanx over the garment which helps the support and doesn't feel uncomfortable, but is there such thing as too much compression?

Doctor Answers 11

Trust your doc to put you in the right compression garment after liposuction.

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Liposuction garments should give moderate compression for the 1st month after liposuction. We compress alittle less today than we did many yrs ago since we want both drainage of fluid and compression.  If too much compression, then patients get nauseated and vomit and there is less fluid able to escape by leaking out as we would like. If no compression, then there is also less drainage since the fluid just sits in the abdominal fat layer cavity creating a seroma or hematoma which will need draining manually. You do swell for the 1st 3-4 days so do expect the compression garment to get tighter for a few days before the swelling starts to go down. You won't be any bigger than you were prior to the lipo surgery though.  That is why you only see a little improvement at the 1 week time.  After 1 week you start to massage and exercise which help stimulate the lymphatics to help drain away the fluid faster and you see a big difference at 1 month.  Sincerely,

David Hansen,MD

Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Tightness of Lipo Garment

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My personal opinion is that the first elastic garment/girdle should be fitted for you in the office prior to surgery and applied in the operating room. Often it will become loose as the edema is mobilized and then it will need to be replaced. Spanx is a reasonable compression garment if it gives enough support and is the right size. I have my patents bring them in and confirm that it fits well.
Most important advise is to listen to your surgeon's advice as he best knows how much fat was removed, the elasticity that remains in your skin and amount of skin redundancy.
I recommend my patients wear their garments for a minimum of 3 weeks full time then for 12 hrs (day or night). if not a lot of redundant skin following liposuction to a maximum of 6 weeks. To be effective the garment needs to fit snug but not too tight as to cause pressure problems (inspect your skin if discomfort and when skin is exposed), or prevent you from sleeping. As the edema resolves it is common for patients to switch to a smaller garment that fits - A Spanx type garment would work rather than ordering one or paying more at your doctor;'s office.
Liposuction requires compression garments for three main reasons:
it restricts the amount of edema that forms and hastens its resolution by mechanical pressure
It decreases the amount of bruising
It assists the loose skin in retracting or shrinking



Compression Garments

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Compression garments should feel snug but comfortable.  Occaisionally, you may have periodic swelling in the area you had surgery and the garment needs to be adjusted.  If it is too tight, the garment can irritate the skin and create irregularities (creases) in the skin.  Ask you surgeon to show you how snug he wants it.

Best Wishes,

Dr. Brian Joseph

Brian Joseph, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

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Liposuction and Compression

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Too much compression can impair breathing, damage the skin,  and predispose to clots forming in the leg veins (deep vein thrombosis), both of which can have dire consequences. Creases in a garment can create permanent dents if they cause sustained pressure on a treated area. 

 If you had pads put under the garment your surgeon may have intentionally left the wounds open to drain, and some surgeons believe that with this 'open-drainage' technique the garment is less important, especially after the first few days. 

If you feel comfortable, you are unlikely doing any harm, but you should confirm with your surgeon.

Michael Kreidstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Should be snug, but not too tight!

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Post-operative garments for compression are frequently utilized following liposuction surgery.These devices minimize swelling, decrease pain, decrease discomfort and help remodel tissue.
It’s important that these devices fit snugly, but not too tightly following liposuction procedures.In this situation the goal is to remodel tissue, decrease pain and minimize swelling.Severe compression goes beyond this point and can be associated with postoperative pain and discomfort.
Post-surgical compression garments facilitate recovery following liposuction and minimize postoperative discomfort.If you have questions regarding their use, it’s important to contact your plastic surgeon.Your surgeon should be able to thoroughly discuss this issue with you and alleviate any concerns that you might have about the use of compression garments.

Compression Garments After Liposuction

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A garment with gentle compression helps to keep down bruising and swelling in the early post operative phase.  It helps skin positioning as well.  There is no need for the garment to be excessively tight.  Too much of a good thing is still too much.  Excess tension can cut off circulation and damage the skin. 

Mary Lee Peters, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 117 reviews

Compression garments

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Compression garments are supposed to be snug but not too tight.  Some surgeons don't even use them.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Snug but Not Painful

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I definitely laree with my colleagues that have answered you here already. You should feel snug in your compression garment, but it should not be uncomfortable or painful. As the swelling reduces the garment will not be as snug, but if you have any concerns at all about your healing process then do not hesitate to contact your surgeon.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

How much compression

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Compression garments should feel snug, but they should be comfortable.  It is important to have even compression over the surgical areas. Visit with your surgeon to assure appropriate fit.

Mennen T. Gallas, MD
Katy Plastic Surgeon

Compression garments should not be tight

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Your surgeon is the best person to ask.  I can tell you that I have my patients fitted prior to surgery to make sure that the garment isn't too tight.  It should feel snug, but not so tight that it's uncomfortable--that would be counterproductive.  Compression garments are used to decreased post-operative swelling as well as help hold the appropriate shape following surgery.

Elan B. Singer, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.