Is It Necessary to Wear a Girdle After Tummy Tuck?

My doctor says I don't have to wear a girdle after my tummy tuck. Is this normal? It seems other doctors require this.

Doctor Answers 24

A binder helps minimize fluid build up after tummy tuck

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I request that all of our abdominoplasty patients wear a binder during the first three weeks post-operatively.

One of the biggest enemies cosmetic surgery patients face after surgery is swelling. What's the point of reducing or tightening an area through liposuction, facelift, or in this case abdominoplasty if you're not going to try to control the amount of post-operative swelling that can significantly reduce what you accomplished in surgery?

Ours is a multi-step program. We ask patients to eat a good, high nutrition diet in the weeks leading up to any surgery. A South Beach type diet is a popular, easy-to-follow and easy-to-find system.

We also supply patients with a regimen of vitamins and minerals that they'll take in the two weeks leading up to and the two weeks after their surgery. This works in concert with the increased nutrition in not only reducing swelling, but bruising as well.

The binder is the final ingredient. Those three components work together to give patients the best possible chance of an outstanding post-op result.

Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Many treatment options when it comes to tummy tuck

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There are a multitude of approaches when it comes to post-operative care.

The general tendency is to wear a compression garment to compress the skin against the muscle with the intention to limit swelling (edema), minimize fluid collections (seroma) and prevent localized bleeding (hematoma). Kind of similar to squeezing your nose when you have a nose bleed.

Some physicians use drains while other's don't. In those that don't, they may use a technique called quilting sutures to make the skin "stick to" the muscle and prevent it from separating. In these instances, it is not unusual to go without a binder.

However, other physcians are finding that binders have caused patients significant discomfort and have opted to forego the use of binders.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Binder use after Abdominoplasty is up to the surgeon

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This truly is a preference of the surgeon, and should be discussed in advance of any procedure. I will suggest, however, that many surgeons, myself included, insist on the patient wearing a binder (similar to a girdle) for a period of four to six weeks after the surgery. The reasons for this are many, but suffice to say that many surgeons see it as a valuable and useful form of treatment after the abdominoplasty.

Manish Raj Gupta, MD
Toledo Plastic Surgeon

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Few factors to consider in wearing garment after Tummy Tuck

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If the tummy tuck is done without liposuction, wearing the garment is not as strict and it is mainly for comfort and protection. I always make sure that the garment is not tight at all during the first few days to avoid any pressure necrosis on the abdominal flap. If lipousction is done at the same time, I keep it loose in the first few days and ask my patients to wear it for 4-6 weeks afterwards to help with the swelling. Hope that helps!

Hisham Seify, MD, PhD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Compression after tummy tuck is not necessary and a matter of surgeon preference

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I have been performing abdominoplasties for 25 years and have never used a postoperative binder or girdle. Suction drains are always used with abdominoplasty because the raw surfaces created tend to leak a fair amount of serum in the first week or so postop. These remove the fluid that accumulates and helps the raw surfaces stick together.

Surgeons who use binders or girdles cite their beneficial compressive effect. However, the blood supply to the "flap" of abdominal skin and fat that is raised is compromised. Compression from the outside, in addition to the suction drains, can cause loss of skin if placed too tightly. I do not believe it improves the outcome at all.

There are many ways to do things correctly. There are very few things done in medicine that HAVE to be done ALL OF THE TIME. I suspect your surgeon has reasons for not using a girdle--just ask him to explain these to you.

Barry Press, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon

Most use a binder or girdle

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Although each surgeon has their own preferences and techniques, most use some sort of postoperative support. Patients like the support provided by a binder. It helps with movement after surgery and decreases discomfort as well as help with swelling and fluid buildup.

I would ask your surgeon the reasoning behind foregoing the binder. They will usually provide an answer that is acceptable depending on their surgical techniques such as using drains and/or quilting sutures.

Bahram Ghaderi, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Elastic support necessary for first month after Tummy Tuck

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It is necessary to wear some type of elastic support garment (girdle) for the first month after a tummy tuck.  After that it usually is not necessary.

Fred Suess, MD (retired)
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon

Girdle after tummy tuck

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Most surgeons require compression of some sort after a tummy tuck. During surgery, the skin is disconnected, the deep layer is tightened and the skin then sticks down to its new home.

Compression allows the skin to stick to its home and reduces the tendency of fluid formation.

Also, if liposculpture is performed during the procedure, compression helps to reduce bruising and swelling, and may actually improve the eventual result.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Compression garment after Tummy Tuck is doctor's personal choice

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It is not essential that you wear a girdle or compression garment after a tummy tuck. Some doctors recommend it others don't. If the tummy tuck result is good then I don't think a girdle will improve results.

I often use an abdominal binder, not too tightly, after a tummy tuck, just for patient comfort.

It is important that the girdle or compression garment not be too tight if one is used.

I have seen patients who have had skin damage and actually lost skin after a tummy tuck when the garment was too tight and interfered with circulation.

Girdle After Stomach Lipo

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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


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.