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Pressure garments

Pressure therapy

Pressure therapy is used to try and improve the appearance of scars. It has been shown to assist with flattening and paling of scar tissue. Although it does not erase the scar it can have significant effects.

What is scarring?

Scars are produced as part of the body’s natural healing process following damage to the skin. The extent of scarring will depend on its site, depth and the age of the individual. Part of the healing process involves the laying down of new tissue. This is partly made up of collagen fibres. In undamaged skin these collagen fibres lie flat due to the influence of the tight surface skin pressure. However in scar tissue this pressure is absent and as a result the collagen fibres become unevenly distributed forming into knotted bundles. This gives the skin an irregular lumpy appearance. Blood can also become trapped in-between the collagen bundles which gives the scar tissue a darker appearance in the surrounding skin.

What does pressure do to scarring?

Pressure garments work by replacing the lost skin pressure. This results in flattening of the collagen bundles and gives the skin a smoother appearance. It also enables the trapped blood to disperse causing the scar to pale.

Illustration of diagram of pressure garment being used on skin to help a burns wound heal

How should the pressure garment be worn?

The effects of pressure therapy are not immediate and your child will need to wear a garment for approximately 12 to 18 months. The garment should be worn at all times both day and night and only be removed for bathing. Each pressure garment is custom made to ensure that the correct amount of pressure is applied. When your child first receives their garment it should be checked regularly (once every four hours during the day) to ensure that it is fitting comfortably.

If any of the following problems arise:

  • sore marks
  • increased swelling
  • pins and needles
  • or you have any other concerns

you should remove the garment and inform your occupational therapist.

After 24 hours of wearing you will need to contact the occupational therapy department. If no adjustments are required a second garment will be sent out to you by post. Regular follow-up appointments will be required to monitor your child’s progress. Garments will need replacing approximately once every three months to maintain their effectiveness.

Washing instructions

Hand wash garments only in warm water using a mild detergent. Do not tumble dry or place on radiators.

Your occupational therapist is:



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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: OT6

Resource Type: Article

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