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Whichever chest or breast surgery you have, there’s lots of preparation for before and after your procedure.
In addition to lots of snacks and a solid list of shows to binge, you’ll want to have a post-procedure bra ready.
Yes, your surgeon will likely give you a bra after the procedure, but it’s often worth selecting at least one bra to have at the ready at home.
We’ve compiled tips for finding the best bra for you. We’ll also discuss 10 postsurgery bras for different types of breast and chest surgery.
Q: What’s the benefit of postsurgical bras? Why do postsurgery bras get recommended?
A: A postoperative bra can be a critical part of your recovery after breast surgery. They help reduce swelling, support implants that tend to drop, and provide an easy way to attach drainage tubes if you have them after your surgery.
Not all surgeons recommend bras after procedures like tissue flap breast reconstruction, as they can cause too much pressure. Be sure to ask your surgeon if they suggest using one and if they’ll provide one after surgery.
— Catherine Hannan, MD, FACS
Some key features to look for in a post-procedure bra include:
- No wires. Most post-procedure bras should be wire-free. The wire can cut into your skin, which you may not realize due to numbness.
- Pockets. If you intend to wear a prosthesis after surgery, look for a bra with pockets.
- Soft fabrics. As a general rule, the softer the fabric feels, the more comfortable you’ll be. Shy away from stiff, tough fabrics in favor of stretchy, high-cotton combinations.
- Adjustability. Most post-procedure bras should have adjustable straps and closures. You’ll probably want everything to be adjustable from the front so you don’t have to twist or stretch.
- Longer lines. Choose a post-procedure bra that has a longer band. This will feel less restrictive than a bra with a short band, which can tighten and chafe.
One of the hardest things to predict is the size bra. You may wish to ask your doctor for advice as to how much post-procedure swelling you can expect.
If you’re having an augmentation or reduction, you can ask your doctor for an estimate of your post-procedure bra size.
The following are some questions you may want to ask your doctor and nurses before surgery. This will help you feel more confident that you’re wearing your postsurgical bra correctly.
- Fit. How tight should my postsurgery bra be? Would you recommend I purchase my current bra size or should I order a smaller or larger size?
- When to wear. How long should I wear my postsurgery bra each day during the first week after surgery? Should I wear my bra when sleeping? Do I need a separate bra for physical activity?
- Duration. How long should I expect to wear this type of bra after surgery? How many bras do other patients usually go through?
The answers will often depend on what surgery you’re having and how long you’re expected to recover.
While we placed the bra options into categories, many could apply across all post-chest surgeries. Some of the features we looked for included:
- Price. We included a variety of price points (including two options that are less than $25).
- Customer reviews. We read reviews from actual women wearing the bras.
- Medical recommendations. We read doctor’s recommendations for compression and support in the post-procedure period.
Keep reading for a list of 10 postsurgery bras.
You can use the following cost guide to estimate how much you may spend on a postsurgery bra:
- $: $0–$25
- $$: $26–$50
- $$$: $51–$75
- $$$$: $76 and up
Price point: $$$$
Key features: This post-procedure bra includes a stabilizer band to ensure breast implants stay in place during the recovery period. This bra has a lot of adjustability — the shoulder straps, front closure, and stabilizer band are all adjustable to ensure the right fit for you.
Considerations: The bra has four sets of hooks in the front, which allows you to adjust the bra’s compression as you recover and your swelling decreases.
Price point: $
Key features: This lightweight, seamless bra has an across-the-chest strap to help prevent implant migration. The bra also has three-snap closure options that can help you improve the fit and adjust for post-procedure swelling.
Considerations: Reviewers commented frequently on how soft the material is, which can help enhance post-procedure comfort.
Price point: $$$
Key features: In the immediate post-procedure period, your doctor will want you to wear a bra for compression as continuously as possible. The HuggerPRIMA bra has an antibacterial additive that allows wearers to wear the bra anywhere from 3 to 5 days in a row without washing it
Considerations: The manufacturers recommend buying one cup size higher if you’re a D cup or higher and worried about a too-tight fit.
Price point: $$
Key features: This soft, wire-free bra has adjustable straps and a front closure. The closure has two positions, which can help provide extra compression or lessen the pressure until your post-procedure swelling goes down.
Considerations: The bra has a criss-cross back, and its support level means many who wear the bra after surgery give it a second life as a supportive sports bra after recovery.
Price point: $
Key features: Although not specifically named a postsurgery bra, this bra has several key factors that make it a good fit for post-cardiac surgery. These include wire-free construction, comfortable straps, support, and extended wear time.
Considerations: Reviewers noted this bra is especially beneficial for those with larger bust sizes — sizing goes up to G cup.
Price point: $$$
Key features: Providing compression and wire-free support in the postsurgical period is important for your recovery from cardiac surgery. You’ll have a sternotomy incision down your chest, making it very important that your bra holds your breasts in place to promote wound healing.
Considerations: Users noted the bra’s larger straps enhanced comfort and provided extra support.
Price point: $$
Key features: This is a versatile bra. It looks pretty and also has compression capabilities after surgery. It’s wire-free and seamless, which helps to cut back on irritation.
Considerations: The bra also features interior prosthesis pockets, so you can wear it long after your surgery.
Price point: $$$
Key features: This bra is proof that a postsurgery bra can be both beautiful and functional. The bra is wire-free and also features pockets to insert a prosthesis, if desired.
Considerations: Some bra reviewers noted the lace cups were slightly visible under thinner tops. You may need a seamless bra when you wear sweaters or knits.
Price point: $$$$
Key features: This bra has two pouches that secure to the bra to hold postsurgery drains. It’s a great fit in the immediate postsurgical period for mastectomy and reconstruction. By having a secure spot for your drains, you can reduce pain and discomfort from the drains pulling on your skin.
Talk to your doctor before surgery to make sure they’ll use drains. Some doctors don’t, which could impact your need for this bra.
Price Point: $$$
Key features: While most postsurgical bras use hook-and-eye closures that can be difficult to navigate, this bra provides an alternative with Velcro. Using the Velcro, you can adjust the sizing across the chest as well as on the shoulder straps.
Considerations: The bra has four tabs to hold bulb drains, if applicable, for post-procedure purposes. Women also wear this bra for post-mastectomy and cardiac surgery purposes.
Postsurgery bras can provide compression, support, and a place to secure drains after surgery.
Of course, this advice is no substitute for your doctor’s. If you have further questions or health concerns, call your doctor’s office to get more information.