Live each day as if your life had just begun. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A tummy tuck compression garment is a heavily elasticized cloth that stretches around your mid-section, much like a girdle. It fits quite snugly, applying even and constant pressure on the encased area. The garment typically covers the area below your breasts down to the hips or pelvic area — everywhere that was treated during your tummy tuck, including the immediate surrounding area.
Why do I need to wear a compression garment after my tummy tuck? This is a question we often receive from patients. Because it fits so snugly, some patients find it rather uncomfortable to wear. However, you should know that you should wear it as advised. A compression garment can help a great deal in your recovery after abdominoplasty. Here are the top four reasons:
1. A reduced risk of seroma
Excess serous fluid collection filling a pocket under the skin is technically referred to as a seroma (when it is blood, it is known as a hematoma). Seromas are considered to be the most common complication associated with abdominoplasty according to several studies, including one from 2002 published in the Annals of Plastic Surgery. The constant, even pressure applied by your compression garment is designed to push down on tissues that were rearranged during your surgery, so that pockets where fluid could collect are minimized or eliminated. The garment also promotes circulation. These two reasons are believed to be how the incidence of seromas can be decreased.
2. Better circulation
And since we’re on the topic of circulation, we all know that keeping your blood going during your recovery is key to getting better, since it’s how beneficial nutrients are delivered to the treated areas to promote healing. This also reduces swelling, bruising and the risk of blood clots, which can be serious or even fatal.
3. More comfort
Your compression garment helps keep tissues in place while you move around. Damaged tissues and incision lines are protected from being pulled or strained. That means you’ll feel more comfortable. In fact, some patients like to wear their garment for weeks after it’s okay for them to stop because they feel more comfortable with it on.
4. Better contouring
While great care is taken to tighten your mid-section and minimize any contour irregularities, there may still be a chance that uneven contours may appear. Many contour irregularities can become permanent if they’re not corrected early on in your recovery. A compression garment helps to flatten out any lumps and bumps that appear.
However, sometimes an ill fitting compression garment may leave permanent indentations. For example, seams can leave long lines in your skin. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your garment fits properly. If in doubt, let us know. Another option is to either wear your garment inside out if you can, or wear a seamless tight cotton shirt underneath your garment as a protective layer.
Having difficulty breathing?
We’ve had patients complain about having difficulty breathing while wearing their compression garment. While it should be snug, your garment should never prevent you from breathing properly. It should also not cause you any pain while you wear it. If it does, let us know as soon as possible so we can get you another one.
In some cases, patients find it difficult to breathe not because of the garment, but because they’re breathing unnaturally.
When you breathe, there are three parts of your body that are involved: the intercostals muscles, diaphragm and abdominal muscles.
The intercostals muscles are located between your ribs. When you breathe in, these muscles contract upwards and outwards to allow your lungs to expand with air. At the same time, your diaphragm moves downward toward your abdomen to create more space for the lungs as well. With proper and natural breathing, you’ll see your chest rise and widen while your stomach expand. It’s exactly how we breathed when we were younger.
As we become more sedentary, we start to get lazy with how we breathe. Instead of involving these three body parts with every breath, we only use our stomach. Your abdominal muscles expand and contract, but your chest doesn’t move. This is known as belly breathing, and it’s a habit that can lead to a bloated stomach that no dieting or tummy tuck can fix!
Belly breathing is why some patients may find it difficult to breathe while wearing their compression garment. They rely just on their stomach to bring in air, but their stomach can’t expand because of the pressure applied by their compression garment.
If this is true for you, take a moment to be conscious of how you breathe. Feel your rib cage expand with every breath, and your diaphragm and abdominal muscles will automatically work together at the same time.