What's the Purpose of Wearing a Compression Garment?

To reduce swelling or bruising? Can I take a break from it maybe 2 hours a day? I was 118 pds and gained 10 pounds after the procedure. Today is day 5 and I am 122 pounds. Is that normal? My bruising is getting better but still quite black. I am taking Zinc & vitamin C & E. Will they help?

Doctor Answers 10

Liposuction garments help control swelling

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After liposuction there are channels and spaces where the fat has been selectively removed, and inflammation sets into the area. The tender tissue will swell and the suctioned area will retain fluid like a sponge. The garment will apply uniform pressure over the treated area and provide support, much like wrapping a sprained ankle to reduce and control swelling. The swelling reaches a peak after three to five days so it is not surprising to see the weight gain. We ask our patients not to weight themselves but most cannot resist the temptation.

We have our patients wear the garment day and night for the first two weeks, and then will transition to something lighter like a Spanx with a leg or waist high enough to cover the area suctioned. The Spanx should be comfortable to wear and your clothing will slide on easily right over. When bruising has set in as in your photo it will be with you three weeks, perhaps longer. You can take a break from the garment, though as the swelling resolves and the "weight" comes off it will loosen and become more comfortable. Try washing it once or twice to soften it up as well.

Best of luck,


Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

I find that firm but comfortable compression is important for liposuction results.

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I have found a big difference in my patients who use compression vs. those who do not use compression. Compression garments help reduce swelling (edema) and aid in pushing fluids into the lymph system for remval from your body. The compression from the garment will help hold skin firmly against the body, aiding in proper skin retraction and general body contouring. I feel that the compression garments help to shape the overall result greatly.

Unfortunately, compression is not easy after liposuction, because every body is different and your body changes quickly after surgery; first swelling significantly and then slowly getting smaller. We have found that in order to get proper compression, it takes alot of effort. My staff are trained to work with my patients to take measurements and select appropriate compression for each patient. We order all of our garments from Design Veronique (www.designveronique.com) because we find that the quality and comfort are the best and the customer service department is very helpful in getting you a proper fit. They also offer money back guarantee.

If your surgeon recommends compression, follow his advise. However, if the compression garment does not fit properly, it will be very uncomfortable and may make things worse. Contact your plastic surgeon if the compression garment that you are wearing is too uncomfortable and find out if he wants you to switch to something else.

Thomas T. Nguyen, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon

We very seldom use garments after liposuction.

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Hi!  Other surgeons in New York who do a lot of liposuction agree with me on this.  Garments are uncomfortable, and, for most patients, don't improve the final result.

Patients who use garments tend to look better after one week, but after 4 weeks, you cannot tell the difference.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

It really is up to you.

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Originally when liposuction was introduced to the world of plastic surgery it was felt that you had to put French Elastoplast on the areas. This tape was left in place for 10-14 days. It often caused tape burns and certainly was uncomfortable and prevented the patient from taking a shower. So in order to avoid this we turned to compression garments and felt these were needed to get the skin to go to the right place. Fortunately it was discovered that in the long run it made no difference where you wore them or not. It turns out that the best reason to wear them is that they minimize the post operative swelling and most patients feel better when they wear them. But if you want to take them off for a few hours or not wear them at all, you will have the same great result in the end.

Carl W. "Rick" Lentz III, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Garments are initially preventative

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Garments that are placed at the time of surgery is preventative to reduce the amount of edema and bruise by applying counterpressure. You have significant bruising and with bruising you always have swelling and fluid accummulation since the pigmentation that causes bruising is hydrophilic or water-attracting. I would certainly advise wearing the garment continuously for the first weeks since this is when most of the swelling and bruising will occur. Once the edema has occurred, it will take longer for it to be absorbed so prevention is better than treatment. But you should really ask you surgeon.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Compression Garments Following Liposuction Help to Decrease Swelling, Bruising, and PostOperative Pain

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Patients who undergo liposuction can expect swelling and discomfort following this procedure.  In an effort to decrease swelling, most surgeons utilize compression garments in the post-operative period.  Although each patient should be considered individually, we generally recommend three to four weeks of compression following liposuction.
Compression minimizes swelling, minimizes bruising and decreases post-operative pain.  It helps to remodel the soft tissue by collapsing the tunnels created by the liposuction cannula and controls skin shrinkage following the procedure.  Compression contributes significantly to the contour improvement seen with this procedure.

Compression Garment Purpose after liposuction

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Following Liposuction compression garments are required 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

It is common for weight gain due to edema and serum that collects in the area as well as the tumescent fluid that was injected. This will resolve over time. The more you wear the garment initially the quicker this fluid resolves.

The length of time that the garment is worn varies dependent on the amount of fat removed, the elastic nature of your skin, how much loose skin remains and other factors. Your surgeon would give you the best advise. However in general this is the routine for my patients.

The first garment 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.


Oh My..

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Let's start from the beginning. Stop the Vitamin E. Hopefully you have a list of meds not to take from your physician. Don't take any of them. You have significant bruising so it must be gotten under control. The garment is intended to help the skin retract after liposuction. It's like suddenly placing a smaller letter in a large envelope. We need the envelope to shrink. I insist on 23hours/day for the first 3-4 weeks then 12 hours/day for 3-4 weeks. Severe bruising, like you have, will require a lot of compression. Because you need to control the skin shrinkage and bruising at the same time.

So wear the garment as much as you can. Try to keep moving and don't take anything that will make you bruise.


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I generally advise patients wear their garment 24 hours a day for three weeks, removing it only when bathing or washing it. From 3 to 6 weeks, wear your garment in the day only. It helps with easing swelling and reducing the risk of seroma. The garment should fit snugly but not to the point that you can't breathe or are feeling sore. It's best to follow your PS's advice or express your concerns directly to them so that they may respond.

Your weight gain is probably related to swelling, which can be controlled by wearing your garment, drinking plenty of fluids (and going to the washroom regularly) as well walking leisurely around to keep your circulation going.

You should talk to your surgeon about the vitamins you're taking. 

They help with swelling.

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A compression garment will help minimize swelling after liposuction. There is some bruising that happens postoperative and the garment may also help with that. Garments should fit snugly, but not too tightly. They should not act as tourniquets and they should not be so uncomfortable that you can't sleep in them.

The photo you posted shows a significant amount of bruising for day 5. I would make sure to visit your surgeon in the next couple of days. I suspect your bruising will take at least a month to resolve. You may also be at risk for fluid accumulation (seroma/hematoma).

As your swelling decreases, you may need to transition into a smaller garment. Discuss the plan carefully with your surgeon and hang in there. Best of luck.

Francisco Canales, MD
Santa Rosa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 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.