The Beginner's Guide to Garments

Compression garments may not necessarily receive a lot of attention during the whole plastic surgery process, but in fact, these can be a patient´s best friend after a procedure. This is best attributed to their ability to increase your comfort and reduce swelling during the first stages of postoperative care and help you with the healing process and with your new contours in order to have the best results possible.

This compression is usually prescribed after surgical procedures such as tummy tuck surgery, liposuction, breast augmentation, breast lift, among others. The use of compression garments has become a key component for many plastic surgeons worldwide. In this article, we will help you to understand more about the background, basics, and benefits of compression garments. Click here to explore our shapewear selection.

What are compression garments?

Is very common to think of compression garments and remember those ugly, thick, and cheap stockings for sale in the pharmacy that your grandma bought for her varicose veins. While similar in some aspects, the compression garments that plastic surgery patients receive after their procedure are specifically made to ensure healing and increase the chances of better results thanks to its high-tech.

Commonly made from strong and synthetic fabrics like lycra and nylon, these garments are made in such a way that these produce graduated and 3D stretch, providing comfortable support and directing the subcutaneous fluids (water and lymph) to the right places for its absorption. Modern compression garments are made with both anti-microbial and breathable fabrics to prevent skin irritation and increase convenience, respectively.

Will I need a garment after my procedure?

Most likely. Surgeons usually prescribe the use of these elements as part of the postoperative care of liposuctions, tummy tucks (abdominoplasty), breast augmentations, lifts or reductions, body lifts, facelifts (rhytidectomy), butt lifts, arm lifts (Brachioplasty) or thigh lifts, facial procedures, gastric bypass procedures, and several other types of surgical procedures.

Dermatologists usually recommend the use of compression garments to those patients who suffer from burns, varicose veins, and lymphoma to improve their lives. 

Why do you need compression garments after your surgical procedure?

It's true, these garments are not that attractive, but is the price to pay in order to get all of its benefits:

  • Constant pressure will reduce swelling and pain. Having constant compression on operated tissues will help fluids not to accumulate, increasing its absorption. This reduces bruising, swelling, and edema, which is basically the accumulation of fluids, and at the same time, it reduces pain. This pressure also helps normalizing lymphatic circulation, avoiding the formation of lymphedema.

  • The compression will reduce the risk of developing a seroma. The excess of serous fluid collected under the skin is known as seroma and is one of the most common complications of abdominal plastic surgeries. The regular and constant pressure produced by compression garments will allow the correct flow of these fluids by maintaining the affected tissues in position.

  • You will have better results sooner. While there is swelling, the healing process will take longer to finish. So, using compression garments to reduce inflammation will increase the chances of seeing better results faster than expected. Also, the patient will return to his regular routines and physical activity faster.

  • They make your skin look better. Constant compression allows your skin to contract to the new contours, which is a key factor to consider especially if you do not want a wrinkled appearance after a body contouring procedure.

  • The compression will reduce blood clots formation. Postoperative conditions may increase the chances of blood clots formation due to the present physiological factors such as bleeding, vasoconstriction, swelling, etc. These blood clots could represent a serious life threat due to its capacity for producing thromboembolism or other complications. The patient will also have to practice early mobilization to increase blood flow.

  • More comfort and security. The compression garments will make sure the tender and inflamed tissues do not move. Damaged tissues and incision lines will be protected from harmful movements, feeling more comfortable and secure during recovery.

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For how long should compression garments be used?

The period of time for its use depends on many factors: the type of surgical procedure, the amount of fat and tissue removed during the procedure, the elastic characteristics of the skin, how much loose skin remains after surgery, inflammatory predisposition, blood circulation issues, patient´s recovery, among others.

The instructions on their use may vary from one surgeon to another, but usually, the surgeons will recommend the use of compression garments for about 4 to 6 weeks after the surgical procedure, existing cases in which the surgeons recommend the use for only 1 week and others for more than 6.

  • Patients that have undergone body contouring surgeries such as liposuction or a tummy tuck should use compression garments for about 4 to 6 weeks.

  • Patients that have undergone breast augmentations, lifts, and reductions or implant revisions should use these for about 2 weeks. After this, compression garments should be replaced with a soft, non-underwire bra for another 3 weeks.

  • The duration with patients that have undergone facial plastic surgery such as rhinoplasty or facelift especially varies from surgeon to surgeon, whit some removing the garments 24 hours after surgery and applying medical tape strips in specific places, and others leaving the garments for about 2 weeks for then passing to the medical tape.

What are the differences between the first stage, second stage, and third stage compression garments? Click here to explore our shapewear selection.

Stage I: Immediately after the surgical procedure is done, the compression garments need to be used to help drain the excess of fluid that can increase swelling and bruising. With the help of some surgical drainages, the compression garments will send the fluids right to them for its expulsion.

Most of this process finishes in the first 24 hours after surgery, increasing the chances of healing properly and in the right form. The more fluid you drain, the less swelling, inflammation, bruising, and pain you will have, representing a shorter healing period of time.

First stage compression garments are used for 1 to 2 weeks after surgery.

Stage II: Too much pressure over your skin is not that good either. Using first stage compression garments for too long is not recommended due to the high compression received.

When the surgical drainages stop expelling fluid, you need to use a second stage compression garment to increase the healing process while returning to your normal blood and lymphatic circulations.

This process will allow you to reduce swelling and eliminating the remaining excess fluid. These are worn for 2 to 8 weeks after surgery.

Stage III: In this stage, the patients will need to use these as everyday wear, being capable of filling comfortable while obtaining their look goals at a minor compression rate. Shapewear is another term for this stage. These compression garments are allowed to be more fashionable than the previous ones because they are considered as more regular clothing, especially for women who had some abdominal surgical procedure.

What type of compression garment do I need?

The type of compression garment you will need depends very much on the procedure you will have to undergo, being capable of covering the affected regions of your body. Here is a list of the most common ones:

  • Compression girdles: cover the region from the buttocks to the upper chest. Used for patients who underwent surgical procedures in the abdominal area such as liposuctions and tummy tucks.

  • Compression stockings: used in patients with affected blood circulation in the legs or with risks of deep vein thrombosis, these begin in the toes and go up to the knee, where it ends above or below.

  • Mid-thigh girdles: extended from the thigh to the abdomen or inferior chest, these garments are ideal for patients who underwent surgical procedures in the buttocks, thigh, and abdomen.

  • Surgical bras: these are similar to some sports bras or chest vests, and obviously are used in those patients who received a breast augmentation, reduction, reconstruction or mastectomy.

  • Compression arm sleeves: these may extend from the fingers or the wrist up to the shoulder. These have a similar use compared to the compression stockings, indicated in medical conditions that affect the blood circulation of the arm.

How to find the right size of compression garment?

First of all, is very important to consider that the regular sizes of a patient will only be used as an indicator to take into consideration due to the possibility of having an implanted material or presenting important swelling after surgery. Is important to speak with your doctor and consult the sizing tables of the garment´s brand before buying.

Here are a few tips to take into consideration while you measure yourself:

  • Bust: put a measuring tape horizontally and wrap it around the major part of your bust. The tape needs to touch the nipples in the front and the shoulder blades in the back. Do not wrap it too tight, you have to feel it comfortable.

  • Waist: wrap the measuring tape around the narrowest part of your waist while you remain in a normal abdominal position.

  • Hips: wrap the measuring tape around the fullest part of your hips, about 7 inches under your natural waist. Include your buttocks in the measurement and be careful not to incline the tape, losing its horizontal position.

If you have any question about the measurements, go seek the help of your doctor or an expert on compression garments.

How do I know if my compression garment is the right one for me?

The pressure will have to make you feel tight, but not that much. The correct compression garment does not have to make you feel uncomfortable, make you breathe heavily, cut off your blood circulation or make your movements difficult to do. Be careful with skin marks or indentations. To avoid this you could use the compression garment over a t-shirt.

These garments should also cover the regions of the body that were treated, not leaving anything exposed. These should be used covering from above the highest point of surgery to below the lowest. Other things such as duration of wear, color, number and locations of zippers, washing possibilities, cost, brand, etc. also need to be considered.

Wearing compression garments in public.

One of the concerns most of the patients have before surgery is the fact that how much the compression garments will be noticeable while being in public. The patients must understand that, with some exceptions such as facelifts compression garments, these elements will fit very easily under the clothes. This means that although these have to be used for several weeks after the surgical procedure, the patient does not have to stay at home during that whole time.

Compression garments allow postoperative patients to return to their normal life without turning attention to them. These garments will fit very well and are very discreet.

A final thought.

Remember this is temporary, you will not need to use compression garments for the rest of your life. But is necessary to keep in mind that these are very important during the postoperative care, diminishing swelling, inflammation, bruising, pain, and other medical complications, allowing you to complete the healing process and achieve the best results possible regarding your new figure.

Also, remember to ask everything you need to your doctor and/or expert in compression garments before buying one.

Click here to explore our shapewear selection. Feel free to leave a comment below if you should have any questions or concerns and we will get back to you as soon as we can. Thanks for reading!


  • Christina

    Hi, is it ideal to purchase a faja after the surgery since I don’t know the size or swelling? How do I know the best option

  • Alma M.

    This guide keeps helping me choose all the right garments !

  • Shante, C.

    Great info! Thank you!!!

  • Kayla

    I’ve looked everywhere for more information on garments and this guide is super helpful. Thank you for putting together this information for us. ❤️