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Abdominal Compression for Weight Loss

author image Jon Williams
Jon Williams is a clinical psychologist and freelance writer. He has performed, presented and published research on a variety of psychological and physical health issues.
Abdominal Compression for Weight Loss
Two views of a woman wearing an orthopedic girdle. Photo Credit Julißn Rovagnati/Hemera/Getty Images

Abdominal compression girdles for women and compression garments for men are used in lieu of bandages to reduce pain and enhance healing following abdominal surgery associated with weight loss. Compression garments do not induce weight loss. They are used before surgery for shaping and cosmetic purposes and after abdominal cosmetic surgery to provide support and enhance healing.

Plastic Surgery and Weight Loss

Compression garments are sometimes used in conjunction with plastic surgery associated with weight loss. Liposuction, also called lipectomy, removes excess fatty tissue from under the top layers of skin using suction. Removal of excess skin, also called abdominoplasty, is sometimes necessary when a person loses a lot of weight. People who are older, have a history of significant, repeated weight loss and weight gain or who have lost a lot of weight quickly may develop skin folds. Their skin has expanded to cover extra layers of fat during their fat phase. However, skin can lose its elasticity and fail to shrink sufficiently following rapid or significant weight loss. Losing weight steadily and slowly can minimize excess skin folds, but sometimes skin folds can’t be avoided and abdominoplasty is necessary for cosmetic reasons. Compression garments can help in pre-surgery preparation and in post-surgery recovery.

Pre-Surgical Use

Plastic surgery is not intended to replace weight loss, according to Michael Bermant, M.D., at PlasticsSurgery4u.com. Patients are expected to actively participate in exercise and calorie reduction to achieve as much weight loss as possible before surgery. Some people are too embarrassed or ashamed of their weight to jog or hit the treadmill at the gym. Compression garments can smooth folds and reduce bouncing flab, enhancing confidence for working out. Some may opt out of surgery and simply use compression garments for cosmetic reasons while they slowly lose weight, allowing their skin to more readily shrink to fit their more slender frame.

Post-Surgical Healing

Bruising and swelling after abdominal cosmetic surgery is the norm. It may take several days before you’re ready to go back to work and several weeks before you’re ready to jump back into exercising and other normal activities. Compression garments apply a steady pressure on tender wounds, reducing swelling, enhancing blood flow to the recovering tissue and minimizing accumulation of excess fluids. People often use compression garments for two or more weeks following abdominal cosmetic surgery, according to PlasticsSurgery4u.com. Compression garments are designed to provide extra support in areas that are typically targeted for abdominal plastic surgery.

Post-Surgical Pain Management

Steady pressure from compression garments reduces post-surgical pain. Reduction of swelling and promotion of healing contributes to pain reduction. Also, the supportive pressure provided by compression garments minimizes bouncing and rubbing that can irritate tender wounds. The garment protects the recovering tissue from bumps and jostles by dispersing the force of bumps across the supportive fibers of the compression garment, much like a catcher’s mitt protects your hand from a fastball. Finally, the pressure of the garment stimulates "slow" nerve impulses that compete with and reduce the transmission of pain signals from your tender wounds. Just as you rub your knee after a bump or press against your forehead to ease a headache, pressure on surrounding abdominal tissue can ease post-surgical discomfort.


During recovery you can expect irregularities in your contour as the fat and skin settles. Compression garments provide support to mold fat and skin as it settles into place. Unlike bulky bandages or wraps, its smooth contour does not show lines under clothing so the recovering surgery patient can head out into public without feeling embarrassed about her still-evolving shape.

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