How to Choose and Wear a Waist or Abdominal Support

Unlike a rigid back brace, abdominal supports are usually made of soft, elastic fabric. They’re designed to compress the stomach and torso when you need extra support — after abdominal surgery, for instance. This guide explains the different types of abdominal and waist supports and when you may need to wear one.

Types of Abdominal Braces and Supports

An abdominal support or abdominal binder can be worn after surgery to hold and protect your stomach area. The binder’s compression may also speed healing and reduce swelling. Depending on the type of support, it may be called a truss, girdle or abdominal belt. Some abdominal binders are designed to hold drainage bulbs for post-surgical monitoring.


An abdominal support wrap performs the same functions as a binder.


Postpartum belly wraps are made specifically for women to wear after pregnancy. They can support abdominal organs and muscles during the postpartum period and promote healing of a caesarean section incision.


It’s important to know that a belly wrap or binder is not the same thing as a waist trainer. Waist trainers are rigid waist supports that claim to help women lose weight or reshape the abdomen after pregnancy. They can cause negative side effects and aren’t proven to provide long-term benefits.


A hernia belt compresses an abdominal or umbilical hernia. A hernia belt won’t heal your hernia or make it go away, but it can reduce pain and protrusion. A hernia support belt may also be worn after surgery,


A rib belt provides gentle compression and support for fractured or bruised ribs.


A pelvic sling or pelvic stabilizer can stabilize a pelvic fracture in an emergency.

Conditions that May Require an Abdominal or Waist Support

lways consult your healthcare provider about wearing an abdominal support.


Abdominal surgery: An abdominal wrap or binder can help you heal after surgery by supporting and compressing the abdomen. If advised by your doctor, you may wear a binder after:

  • Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)
  • Liposuction surgery
  • Gastric bypass surgery
  • Hysterectomy
  • Laparotomy (exploratory surgery of the abdomen)


Spinal cord injury: People with tetraplegia resulting from a spinal cord injury may wear an abdominal binder to improve their ability to breathe and speak. Abdominal binding is thought to mimic the non-functioning abdominal muscles and compress the abdomen, elevating the diaphragm into position that’s better for breathing and allowing an increase in lung volume.


Post-pregnancy and caesarean section: Your doctor may advise you to wear a belly band or postpartum wrap after you give birth to reduce swelling and pain, help your muscles heal, and allow you to become active again.


Abdominal or umbilical hernia: These types of hernias occur when the intestines or internal organs push through the abdominal wall, creating a visible bulge. A hernia support belt can compress the hernia and relieve discomfort.


Hypotension: Orthostatic hypotension is a condition when standing up results in low blood pressure, causing feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness. Postprandial hypotension causes low blood pressure after eating. People with both conditions may find that wearing an abdominal binder helps, because it decreases blood pooling in the abdomen and improves blood pressure when you stand up.


Broken or bruised ribs: Rib injuries are painful and can take a long time to heal. Your healthcare provider may recommend wearing a rib belt to support the area.

Tips for Wearing an Abdominal or Waist Support

Don’t fasten the binder too tightly. It should fit snugly around your torso, but it shouldn’t be painful or prevent you from breathing normally.


An abdominal support should be worn under your clothes. If you’re allergic to latex or neoprene, choose an abdominal support that’s not made with the problematic material. Look for one made with spandex and/or nylon instead.


Measure the widest part of your body before you buy. Most abdominal supports are not one-size-fits-all, so choose one that’s designed to fit you.


If you’re using a postpartum belly wrap, begin wrapping at the hips and move upward. Starting at the waist and wrapping downward can create pressure on your pelvic floor and lead to prolapse.

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