I just wanted to touch base on this topic . It’s usually mentioned in passing probably because the process varies per surgeon but its significance is great if you are considering the best results in the long run.
Yes, I understand the sentiment that you are now flat and you just want to burn all the memories you have had with hiding the twins. Some guys even have rites of burning all their binders or just simply mentaly preparing themselves that binding is now a thing of the past only to be told that they still need to do it after surgery. Bummer, right? I really don’t have much experience with binders so imagine my frustration with having to do it for the next 6 weeks or more.
So first off, why is there a need to bind?
When you have top surgery, the removal of the tissue, fat etc creates a space or cavity between your skin and the pectoral muscle. And since your body is 75% water/fluid AND fluid flows into spaces, the cavity gives IT a chance to do just that. Fluid like lymph or blood rushes to fill up that space. But we do not want that to happen. Why? Because it causes swelling, seroma (fluid build up), hematoma (blood build up) and delayed healing. It complicates things. And this is where binding comes to the scene.
Binding allows your skin to stick to the chest wall. Aside from the drains that the surgeon usually puts to help with the fluid build up (because it WILL happen), binding prevents any fluid from creeping in as well.
Another significance is it helps in the actual healing process. Binding makes evrything stay put, not that anything is still jiggly or whatever. But it creates a support for your chest. Your skin isn’t used to carrying less “weight”, so to speak. So to counteract the gravitational pull, the binder creates sort of a scaffold so the skin would know where to stay. I have said in a previous post that I have experienced that phantom feeling as if my chest was falling. The binder helps in eliminating that feeling.
Moving forward, if your chest stays put, it creates a biological equilibrium. It allows the natural healing process to take place without any disturbances or unnecesary stress. This period is when your nerves are starting to reconnect, your skin fibers are starting to weave together again and your skin is starting to contour to your pectoral muscles. The last thing you want to do is disturb this orchestrated process.
One other importance is in the contouring of the skin. An even circumferential pressure is the best environment for the best long term results. It eliminates bumps or depressions and promotes aesthetic results.
Now the next question is how long should you bind? Well like what I mentioned, it depends on your surgeon. Some say at least 6 weeks, some even say 8 weeks. I even saw a surgeon recommend 6 months! It all depends on how the results look like on your first post-op appointment or on the experience of your surgeon. Usually it falls between at least 2 weeks until 8 weeks. Mine is at least 24 hours for the first 4 weeks, then at least 12 hours for the next 2 — a total of 6 weeks (but I’m thinking of extending it to 8 weeks. LOL)
Another question is what should you use to bind? Here in the Philippines, an ACE bandage is commonly used. An ACE bandage is the light brown/flesh-colored elastic cloth commonly used in sprains etc. It loses elasticity after continuous use. As of writing, I am using my 2nd bandage in a span of 2 weeks. Another garment is a compression vest (which I bought online for 2,000 php) and is more commonly used overseas. It is made out of a medical-grade mesh of some sort and has adjustable velcro attached on the shoulders. On the front it either has velcro or a zipper closure. The whole thing looks like an Underworks binder, just with the extra attachments.
From experience, both have their pros and cons. But from the compression perspective, the ACE bandage is more flexible in determining the amount of pressure you want. The vest has a fixed measurement so unless your vest has a velcro closure in front, then the amount of pressure it provides will be constant all throughout. Just hope that your vest is durable to withstand wear and tear and won’t lost its rigidity during the binding period. They are also a bit pricey and usually not part of your surgery package.
I will discuss my personal experience with compression on the next post as well as a healing update 🙂