The Ultimate Guide to Compression Garments

The Ultimate Guide to Compression Garments

Posted on August 10, 2021 by Dr. Susan MacLennan

If you’re considering having cosmetic surgery, you have likely done your research about the procedure itself, seen before-and-after photos, and read about what to expect during recovery. During that time, you’ve likely stumbled across instructions for wearing compression garments, which is often a point of confusion among plastic surgery patients.

In this post, I’ll walk through why we use compression garments, how to wear them properly, and what types are best for you.

Why Compression Garments Are Important

The reason so many plastic surgeons encourage patients to use compression garments is two-fold: they speed recovery by reducing swelling and bruising, and they help ensure the shape and contour created during surgery stays put. Studies have also shown that gentle pressure and support can lessen pain and discomfort, a key benefit especially in the early days of recovery from an extensive procedure.

In surgery, the skin is lifted away from the body wall, creating space for fluid to accumulate and allowing an opportunity for tissues to shift and potentially alter your results. In addition, swelling during the postop period is normal, but can be managed with compression.

Which Procedures Require Compression?

We recommend compression for most liposuction, abdominoplasty, and gender-affirming top surgeries. For abdominoplasty/ tummy tuck, you’ll wear a stretchy abdominal binder for the first day or two, and then switch into a high-waisted shaper garment such as Higher Power Spanx. If you can find one with an opening in the crotch, that will make your life easier because you won’t have to pull the garment down every time you need to pee! In general, we recommend buying one size larger than your usual size, since we all know these things are hard to get on even when you haven’t just had surgery!

Top surgery and liposuction patients will usually need a specific post-surgery garment. We typically recommend www.marena.com for their extensive range of comfortable and well-designed garments.


Breast surgery patients often wonder if they need a compression bra. In most cases, snug compression isn’t necessary and breast surgery patients can wear any soft, comfortable bra they like. We carry Coobie and Joy bras in the office and most of our patients love these stretchy, soft, comfortable bras so much that they often keep wearing them even after recovery.

How to Correctly Wear Compression Garments

Depending on the type of procedure you have and the type of garment we suggest, compression garments should be worn for about a month after the procedure. During this time, the garment should be worn pretty much 24/7, except when showering. After the initial swelling improves, you may be able to stop wearing your compression at night but continue during the day, then gradually wean off as swelling subsides.

Garments should be snug but not restrictive. I like to say that your garment should snap back when you tug on it like snug lycra bike shorts. You should make sure your garment lies flat and smooth against your skin. If a compression garment bunches up, it can lead to surface irregularities or creases in your skin; not something we want to see!

While compression garments don’t “create” your result, they will often help you manage swelling and discomfort so your recovery goes smoothly.

Schedule Your Surgical Consultation

We’ll give you specific expectations about recovery and garments once we decide what procedure is right for you. Give us a call or fill out our online contact form to get started.