November 7th, 2019
The sutures or staples have come out, and the surgical wound has healed. Now you can begin to prepare your residual limb for a prosthesis. So what’s the next step? Shrinkers!
Shrinkers are often elastic, nylon-like socks that cover the residual limb helping to control swelling, promote healing and assist in reshaping the leg.
Available in a variety of materials and pressure gradients for both above-knee (AKA) and below-knee amputees (BKA). Shrinkers help to compress and shape the residual limb post-surgery by enhancing blood circulation to the area and reducing fluid accumulations.
Numerous studies have supported the benefits of the application of gradual compression garments to reduce phantom limb pains, promote wound healing postoperatively, and the reduction of swelling and scar tissue.
Applying Your Shrinker
Every time the shrinker is applied (or donned), you should make sure that the bottom of the shrinker is pulled snug to the bottom of the residual limb and that there are no wrinkles in the material. It is advisable to stretch the shrinker in all four directions with assistance from a caregiver or family member initially to reduce pain while donning. It is extremely important to make sure that there are no wrinkles or creases when you apply (don) the shrinker as it may cause skin irritation and in some adverse cases, skin breakdown. If you experience any discomfort or skin irritation such as redness, rashes or abrasions, report those immediately to your prosthetist or health care provider.
Wear your shrinker night and day, only removing it to bathe. Your shrinker will need to be removed and reapplied at least 2-3 times per day to maintain uniform circumferential compression. It is highly recommended to perform a thorough skin inspection every time you remove your shrinker. Discontinue use and consult a medical professional if any issues or changes of the limb or skin develop.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Follow the washing instructions provided by the manufacturer. Hand wash your shrinker using a mild soap and hang to dry. You will be provided at least two shrinkers, so you can wear one and wash one. Wash and proper care usually will restore your shrinker’s shape as wearing a shrinker for long durations can stretch it out.
Want more information on shrinkers? Check out these videos below.