Ask the Experts: Self-Image + Pressure Garments

Written by Dr. Lise Deguire and James Bosch on October 21, 2021

Body Image
Burn Treatment
Getting Quality Treatment

About "Ask the Experts"

In this advice column for Burn Support Magazine, a panel of experts draws on their personal and professional experience to offer guidance. They do their best to make it good advice, but remember that their opinions and views can never replace the diagnosis, treatment, or care of a licensed physician or mental health professional.

Dear Experts,

I suffered burns to both of my legs, and I’ve had a hard time getting back out there. I was so used to wearing shorts and skirts and feeling feminine, but I feel like I don’t really have any clothes that suit me anymore. I was wondering if there are any resources that would donate clothes or anything that raises money for the compression pants I have to wear.

- Lexi

Dear Lexi,

Thank you for your question, which I’m sure a lot of readers can relate to. I don’t know how long it has been since your injury. Getting back out there is a journey that can take a lot of time. Sadly, there are a few burn survivors who never do, so I’m glad to hear that you are contemplating taking these steps.

It is possible to feel feminine and be scarred. As a female burn survivor myself, I have found that place. You may not feel that possibility yet, but I want you to know that it can happen. Wearing clothes that you think are fashionable and flattering will help. Your compression pants may not be stylish, but I encourage you to embrace the other parts of your wardrobe that still feel like “you.”

Dressing to hide oneself can seem like a safe option, but it is hard to feel feminine and attractive in unflattering, unstylish clothes. How we dress often sets the tone, both for ourselves, and for the people we encounter. If people can see we are holding our heads high, dressing with care and pride, they often respond more positively. The first steps are the hardest, but it usually gets easier over time.

I encourage you to visit Phoenix Society’s Resource Center. Yours is a common concern, and there is a lot of wisdom in our community that I think you might find helpful. As a burned person, you are a member of a vibrant group, with many people who have faced these issues in the past. I hope that you find these resources helpful and encouraging. And I really hope you get back out there, head held high, and feeling feminine.

Dr. Lise Deguire
Burn Survivor + Clinical Psychologist

Guest Expert: James Bosch
Burn Survivor + Licensed Psychotherapist

If you are having trouble getting or paying for pressure garments/clothing, here are a few things to try:

  • For a child survivor, Shriners Hospital for Children can often provide garments and burn rehab services at no cost to the family. Their national hotline is 800-237-5055. For an adult survivor, contact your local burn foundation to see if they can help. If you can’t locate your state’s burn foundation, Phoenix Society can help identify that for you.

  • Contact your regional burn center. Sometimes they will have a fund or program to help people with garments. You can find the closest burn center on American Burn Association’s website.

  • Amazon and sports clothing stores sell temporary compression clothing or consult your PCP about where they refer people for compression stockings, etc.

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