If you are considering any kind of cosmetic procedure then it is very likely you will soon be introduced to the world of postoperative garments, whether it is a bra, corset, thigh or arm compression, or some imaginative combination of each. And you have my sympathies, because it can be a somewhat confusing world for the uninitiated. Hopefully we can demystify things a little bit here.


So what’s the difference between a postoperative garment and sportswear, for example? Let’s be clear, postoperative garments are often rather expensive. The difference in cost between a “bra” and a “surgical bra” is a bit like that between a “cake” and a “wedding cake”. How so? At the end of the day they’re roughly the same thing, right?


Well, not quite. Just like a wedding cake isn’t really the same as a supermarket trifle, surgical garments are specially made to be comfortable when you are at your most sensitive – with fresh bruises, fresh scars, possibly oozy bits, lumpy dressings and a more-or-less accurately predicted postoperative size of the bit of the body in question – after all, the usual reason for having cosmetic surgery is to make bits of you bigger or smaller. Proper surgical garments are designed with such considerations in mind. The seams tend to be on the outside, the material is breathable and sometimes impregnated with soothing or antibacterial materials, and they should have enough stretch to deal with the uncertainty around how big they actually need to be, yet enough resistance to compress what they are supposed to.


They may also fasten in unusual or versatile ways. For example, a bra which does up as usual at the back is not much use to theatre staff faced with a patient who is unconscious and lying on their back with drips connected to their hands. As a result, surgical bras are usually front-fastening with detachable shoulder straps, allowing them to be slipped underneath the sleeping patient and reconstituted from the front. The same applies to compression short/tummy combos. Have you noticed how floppy a new baby is when trying to put them into a baby grow, and how easy that doesn’t make it? Now imagine the baby weighs 60 kilos and the baby grow is slightly too tight. We need all the help we can get, and the various cunningly placed zips, fasteners and Velcro straps can really come in handy.

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