What are Liposuction Compression Garments?
While you will likely see some noticeable changes immediately after liposuction, the full effects of the surgery will not be visible for several weeks, possibly months. This is partly because liposuction usually causes quite a bit of swelling and fluid retention. Both of those conditions are temporary, but you can also speed up the healing process.
Liposuction compression garments not only help the body drain the excess fluids resulting from liposuction, but aid in the proper contouring of the body. Failure to wear compression garments after liposuction can lead to undesirable aesthetic results, or worse, medical complications.
How do Liposuction Compression Garments Work?
Just as stitches and bandages help your body heal after certain types of surgeries, compression garments help your body recover after liposuction. They do this in a few ways.
During the procedure, fat is suctioned from your body through a liposuction cannula. This instrument creates hollow tunnels within the subcutaneous fat. In the weeks and months following surgery, those tunnels will slowly collapse, thereby reshaping the areas of the body on which liposuction was performed.
During this process, liposuction compression garments provide support to procedure areas so they form into the desired shape.
Depending on your condition and goals, you may undergo laser liposuction, which "melts" fat rather than suctioning it. For several days, possibly weeks, after this procedure, the semi-liquid fat remains malleable. It takes time for it to solidify into its new, slimmer shape.
Without the support of compression garments, those treated areas on your body may form irregularities such as ridges, rippling, and indentations. The liposuction compression garments keep the fat in place to help your body maintain its new shape, and keep the surface of your skin smooth and even.
With any surgery, you'll experience some degree of swelling, pain and bruising after the procedure. However, with liposuction, you may experience a much higher degree of swelling for a couple of reasons.
Because liposuction removes the subcutaneous fat between the skin and the muscle, your skin will not immediately adhere to the muscle. Without pressure from a liposuction compression garment to keep them in constant contact with each other while a new bond forms, a layer of fluid may form in this newly vacated space, causing excessive swelling, and lengthening the healing process.
In addition, a procedure like tumescent liposuction that uses fluids to help break down and remove the subcutaneous fat can also cause a higher degree of swelling until your body absorbs and expels this excess fluid. A compression garment will keep constant pressure on the area, which encourages fluid drainage.
In performing all of these functions, liposuction compression garments help your body heal more quickly, reduce the likelihood of liposuction risks and complications, and ensure you get the smooth, contoured results you desire.
How to Choose Compression Garments
In order to provide support to many of the common areas treated by liposuction, compression garments come in various shapes and sizes.
You may have to try a few on before your procedure to find the one that offers all of the following:
Remember you'll be wearing your liposuction compression garment for up to 23 hours a day, removing it only to bathe. You'll want it to be reasonably comfortable, while still performing its primary function of compression. It should be snug, but not so tight it impedes your circulation. Comfort is a good indicator of correct fit.
As the swelling subsides, your size and shape will change, and the liposuction compression garment will need to be tightened. Avoid garments with seams and closures that sit directly on incision sites to avoid irritation and infection.
The best liposuction compression garments are made from strong, anti-microbial, breathable fabric that maintains its shape while applying pressure. The ideal fabrics are spandex and nylon. Avoid fabrics that may lead to allergic reactions, as well as lace trimmings which lay directly on skin and can cause irritation. Natural fabrics are not recommended for these garments as they cannot provide the appropriate amount of pressure.
Your surgeon will be able to help you choose compression garments, and answer any questions you have about them.
Can I use supportive underwear or bandages instead of liposuction compression garments?
No. Bandages and other undergarments labeled "supportive" do not provide the appropriate amount of pressure in the exact way needed after this type of surgery. Liposuction compression garments are specifically designed by companies that specialize in post-surgical garments, and who work in conjunction with cosmetic surgeons to create garments that meet the necessary requirements for healing.
These companies use computer-aided pattern development to calculate the force the garments exert on the body. The size, fit, and shape of the garment, as well as the type of fabric, are all chosen for a reason. Using anything other than a liposuction compression garment can seriously jeopardize your results, and your health.
How long will I need to wear my liposuction compression garments?
The exact amount of time needed will vary from person to person, depending on their specific procedure and rate of recovery. Your surgeon will give you a recommendation tailored to your needs, but the average time frame is three to four weeks.
What happens if I don't wear my liposuction compression garments?
You may end up with anomalies in the layer of subcutaneous fat that will appear in your skin as indentations, ripples, or ridges. You may experience excessive swelling and bruising, or excess scarring.
Most importantly, you may experience serious medical complications including, but not limited to:
- Necrosis – Tissue death
- Seroma – A pocket of clear fluid that may form in the body after surgery
- Lymphedema – A condition in which a compromised lymphatic system causes localized fluid retention and tissue swelling. Tissues with lymphedema are susceptible to infection.