Tummy tuck is a cosmetic surgical procedure commonly performed for body contouring. Why is an abdominal binder important after tummy tuck surgery? What is its purpose? How long should it be worn? Patients often ask about wearing an abdominal binder after tummy tuck surgery. There is little science behind abdominal binders after tummy tuck. Recommendations often vary between surgical practices based on surgeon preference and clinical experience.
Potential advantages of wearing an abdominal binder after tummy tuck
Abdominal binders may be helpful in several ways following tummy tuck. By applying compression to the surgical site, the binder may help reduce swelling of the skin flaps and maintain contour improvements during early healing. It may also reduce the risk of seroma formation, which refers to a collection of fluid below the skin flaps. Although studies have not definitively proven a reduction in seroma rates following tummy tuck with abdominal binder usage, it offers a theoretical advantage by applying gentle compression. This may decrease the potential space deep to the skin flaps where fluid may accumulate. If every patient following tummy tuck surgery had an ultrasound performed, seromas would be identified in the majority of patients. These seromas are generally small however and resorbed by the body over time. Large seromas causing discomfort or visible fluid accumulation as well as those concerning for superimposed infection may require further treatment.
The abdominal binder may also improve patient comfort by providing additional support at the muscle repair site. Following pregnancies or significant weight gain, the rectus (abdominal) muscles are placed under increased tension, which often leads to gapping between the muscles centrally. Referred to as a rectus diastasis, this gap is stitched together during tummy tuck surgery, which improves the contour of the abdomen. It may also provide additional core strength. During early healing when the muscle repair is at greater risk for healing complications and recurrent separation, the abdominal binder may provide additional support and protection during muscle healing. Patients often report that it increases comfort and support when shifting positions or coughing and improves one’s posture during prolonged standing.
Recommended length of abdominal binder wear after tummy tuck
I recommend for patients to wear the abdominal binder full-time except when showering for the first month after tummy tuck. If tolerating well, I often recommend a total of 6 weeks. I provide my patients with three-panel abdominal binders. The three panels allow for graded compression and improved fit around the waist and hip regions as compared to a one-piece binder.
Please contact us if you have any questions regarding tummy tuck surgery and to determine if it is the right fit for you.