What Is an Abdominal Binder Used For?

An abdominal binder is an important surgical body garment used in the early postoperative phase of surgeries like an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) or an abdominal liposuction. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, approximately 121,653 abdominoplasties were performed on men and women in the United States in 2008. Abdominal binders are essential in the postoperative care of these patients.

An abdominal binder provides compression and support to both the upper and lower abdomen. (Image: BernardaSv/iStock/Getty Images)

Functions

An abdominal binder serves many important functions, especially in the early postoperative stages of an abdominal surgical procedure. An abdominal binder provides compression and support to both the upper and lower abdomen. It helps to improve blood circulation and oxygen levels at the operative site, increases healing and reduces swelling. With all these improvements, the patient is able to get out of bed sooner and walk around more easily. This further improves breathing and promotes the healing process and a speedy recovery.

Other Uses

An abdominal binder may be indicated and prescribed in other surgical procedures and situations, such as during pregnancy in certain situations, after the delivery of a baby and to support weak abdominal muscles due to aging. It may also be used for obesity or paralysis. Abdominal binders come in sizes from extra small to small and medium, large and extra large and extra-extra large,

How to Use

An abdominal binder is usually applied in the operating room immediately after surgery. The physician prescribes instruction as to the length of time it should be worn. Usually for the first 2 weeks, it is worn constantly, after which it may only be removed for showers and then replaced. After 3 weeks, it may need to be worn only in the day time. Your physician will give instructions based on your progress. Having two abdominal binders is highly recommended so they can be interchanged when one is being laundered.

How to Measure

The proper measurement of the abdominal binder for a comfortable fit that applies the right amount of compression is important. The measurements and sizing must be done prior to having the surgical procedures. Measurements are taken next to the skin without clothing. A stage 1 garment is worn for the first 2 weeks postoperatively. It is bigger and less tight to accommodate any initial swelling. A second stage garment is worn 2 to 8 weeks postoperatively or longer; it is a smaller and tighter binder.

Precautions

Individuals who are allergic to latex should use a latex-free abdominal binder. This will prevent an allergic reaction, which can include a rash, itching or swelling of the face, tongue and throat and shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. This is a medical emergency. Immediate medical care must be administered if any of these symptoms occur.

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