Sometimes an abdominal hernia can be so severe that it creates a noticeable bulge in your abdomen that shows through your clothing. Although surgery is the only effective treatment for a hernia, some patients may need to decline or postpone hernia surgery for another medical reason. Such patients may want to wear binder shirts to minimize the appearance of the bulge, as well as to provide comfort and support.
Speak to your physician about your hernia to determine the best course of action. While wearing a binder shirt or truss can be beneficial in some cases, it also can cause a strangulated hernia to worsen. Make sure to get your physician's approval before purchasing or wearing one.
Ask your physician for recommendations as to the style of binder shirt to wear. In general, there are three styles of hernia shirts. The first is shaped like a normal short- or long-sleeved shirt, but is made from a very stretchy material like neoprene or spandex. Another style is more like a girdle, with no sleeves or shoulders and a series of straps and buckles around the abdomen. A third style, more commonly called a truss, is like a wide strap that does not cover the entire abdomen; it is generally recommended for smaller bulges. Your physician should be able to recommend your ideal style based on the details of your hernia and your physical needs.
Purchase one or more binder shirts or equivalent products as advised by your physician. The easiest way to buy these is online, and you can find some links to online shops that carry them in the "Resources" section. You also can find them at some pharmacies, hospitals and medical supply stores. If you're looking for a local source, ask your physician to recommend one.
Put on a light undershirt, if desired, if you'll be wearing a girdle or a truss-style product. An undershirt can prevent chafing and discomfort. Undershirts are not recommended with the full shirt-style binder shirts.
Put on the binder shirt slowly and carefully. Pull shirt-style binders over your head, just like an ordinary T-shirt--but inch them down slowly and carefully, because they are designed for a very tight fit. Wrap girdle-style binders around your abdomen, buckle them front, and then tighten them with the adjustment straps. Truss-style binders work just like the girdle styles, but place them directly over the bulge of your hernia. Most adjustable binders are tightened using simple plastic buckles like the one pictured. Thread the adjustment strap through one buckle slot from beneath, then thread it through the other slot from above. Pull the loose end of the strap to tighten the binder, and twist the plastic buckle to loosen it. When tightening the adjustable types of binders, tighten them only to the extent that they are still comfortable to wear.
Wear your regular clothes over the binder shirt. With the binder on underneath, your usual clothes should fit much better without revealing the bulge of the hernia.
Follow your physician's advice when deciding how frequently to wear a binder shirt, how long you can wear it and whether or not you should wear one while you sleep--all depending on your personalized plan of care.