September 18th, 2019
Once your surgical wound has healed, the journey begins to prepare your residual limb for a prosthesis. Today we’re talking all about prosthetic shrinkers, which play a huge role in getting you ready for your prosthesis. Read for more information about shrinkers and their purpose, application, wearing schedule, and maintenance.
What are shrinkers?
Prosthetic shrinkers are elastic garments that are made to control swelling, promote healing, and assist in shaping your residual limb. Shrinkers are 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. Wearing shrinkers will prepare the residual limb for future prosthetic interventions by reducing scarring and contouring the residual limb for a better prosthetic fit. Numerous studies have supported the benefits of application of gradual compression garments to reduce phantom limb pains, promote wound healing post-operatively, and the reduction of swelling and scar tissue.
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. We advise you stretch the shrinker in all four directions with assistance from a caregiver.
If you experience any discomfort while wearing your shrinker, for example skin irritations such as redness, rashes or abrasions, report those immediately to a medical professional.
You will wear your shrinker essentially all day and night, only removing it to bathe. Your shrinker should be removed and reapplied at least 2-3 times per day to maintain uniform circumferential compression. Every time you remove your shrinker, perform a thorough skin inspection. Discontinue use and consult a medical professional if any issues or changes of the limb or skin develop.
Cleaning & 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 wash one. Wash and proper care usually will restore your shrinkers shape as wearing a shrinker for long durations can stretch it out.
We hope this shrinker overview provides you all the information you need to feel comfortable and confident as you progress in your recovery. Shrinkers are nothing to be afraid of – in fact, wearing a shrinker means you are one step closer to getting a prosthesis and moving toward your new normal. That is something to celebrate!