During your consult, your surgeon may prescribe compression garments to help in your post-operative healing. Surgeons, however, commonly face compliance and consistency issues in getting patients to wear compression garments for 24 hours a day throughout the duration of recovery (typically spanning from a few weeks to a few months). Why are patients uncompliant and inconsistent when it comes to wearing their compression garment? Simple, because they are not comfortable, and Comfort. Equals. Compliance. Thus it is absolutely critical for a patient to recover in a comfortable, medical-grade compression garment that can cater to your daily needs.
Here are 8 important components to look for in a comfortable compression garment, suitable for post-surgery compliance or maybe even dropping a dress size or two.
1. Power & Stretch
The main purpose for compression fabric is to mimic the human skin, enabling natural body movements without causing any restrictive sensation. The material must be able to stretch easily and in four directions – North, South, East and West – to provide consistent gentle compression optimal for post-operative healing.
Most compression garments have a two-way stretch. This means when the fabric is stretched in two opposite directions, you will see W-shaped ripples in the middle of the fabric (as pictured on the black fabric pull). This happens as the yarn structure is not built for four-directional stretch, causing the garment to ride, bind or pull and producing a harsh, itchy sensation on the skin.
Optimal healing comes with the right level of applied pressure being placed on the traumatized area. Dr. Yves-Gerard Illouz, who introduced blunt liposuction techniques in France in 1982, established in his clinical evaluation of pressure therapy in conjunction with aesthetic and reconstructive surgery, that 17-20mmHg is the acceptable and beneficial range of applied pressure. (Body Sculpturing by Lipoplasty, Yves-Gérard Illouz, 1989) If the applied pressure is too low, there is insufficient compression on the wound. If the pressure is too high, it may cause circulatory issues. The perfect compression garment for post-operation should be a flexible enough to move with you, while giving your skin and body the support necessary.
It is essential for a garment to feel soft and smooth to allow evenly distributed compression and healing. The need for fabric softness prevents the tendency of stiffer fabrics to crease and ripple.
The construction of Powernet was developed several decades ago, consisting of non-elastic nylon yarns (visible on the front and back) tightly wrapped around elastic yarns (not visible). This creates a more open structure allowing the skin to push through the openings. This structure is directly tied to the common perception that Powernet is itchy and harsh against the skin.
The patented knit structure of ComfortWeave®, however, consists of elastic soft LYCRA® yarns (visible on front view) are fused together to form a floating spandex grid. The TACTEL® Nylon fibers (visible on back view) are loosely laid in, providing protection and strength. This creates a silky smooth fabric surface. As a result, users reported that ComfortWeave® felt softer.
To avoid the possibility of an allergic reaction, ensure your garment fabric does not contain latex, silicon or formaldehyde. Rashes, itchiness
Wear and tear should be minimal and the garment must be able to retain as much of its shape, stretch and size memory after extended wear and washing. Interlocking-knit, premium yarns help to maintain original garment qualities.
6. Cool & Dry/Absorbent & Wicking
The fabric must be able to absorb body moisture and pull it away from the skin. This promotes evaporation, absorption and wicking of body moisture to aid the body’s normal cooling and drying process. By keeping the skin cool and dry, the possibility of skin irritation, rashes and discomfort decreases.
The human body – especially that of a recovering surgical patient – provides a warm, cozy environment for odor, mold and mildew-causing microorganisms to grow. Antimicrobial agents incorporated into the fabric fights odor, mold and mildew caused by bacterial, microbial and fungal colonies.
Placement of other elements besides the fabric must be carefully considered. The goal is to limit skin contact with any hard or rough surfaces and minimize discomfort.
- All seams must be on the outside of the garment otherwise the seam can indent the skin.
- Zippers and fasteners must be shielded by a soft-cushioned fabric or padding to prevent the zipper from digging into your skin or leaving a mark during extended wear.
- Labels are recommended to be heat sealed or sewn on the outside of the garment, to prevent any skin irritation.
The construction of the garments also has to enable convenience. That is, the accessibility for ease in putting on and taking off the garment, and the ability to accommodate bodily functions.
For compression garments that are FDA-approved, clinically tested and made in the USA, consider Marena compression garments. Marena is the global leader in medical-grade compression, outperforming leading competitors in strength, comfort, durability and moisture control.