Your bra plays a critical role in the healing process after breast augmentation surgery, offering both support and comfort. Typically, the best choice is a medical-grade compression bra, followed by a sports bra for more long-term use. Here are some tips on choosing the perfect bra to wear after your breast enhancement procedure.
After surgery: Medical compression bras
Opinions vary among surgeons as to the best type of bra to wear during breast augmentation recovery. While most will recommend a medical compression bra, some surgeons will instead suggest a standard sports bra, or even no bra at all (the idea here is that going braless allows the breasts to settle into their natural position).
Despite these divergent opinions, medical compression bras (also known as surgical bras) are best suited to patient’s needs in the vast majority of cases, as they offer more support than a standard sports bra. This helps minimizes pain and swelling, ensures that the dressings remain in place, and prevents the implants from moving while the capsule tissue forms.
In short, surgical bras help ease recovery after breast surgery. In fact, studies have shown that by ensuring proper blood flow, they even minimize the risk of certain complications such as seromas and lymphedema.
How to choose the right surgical bra
If your surgeon has recommended that you wear a medical compression bra, make sure that the model you choose has the following features:
- No underwires
All surgeons agree that underwires can irritate your incisions and potentially cause complications.
- Comfortable fit
Comfort is an important consideration; if the bra doesn’t feel right, it may be because it’s not the right fit. To choose the proper size, use your projected cup size and add one to your pre-surgery band size.
- A soft cup
Again, this ensures that your incisions will be well protected.
- Ample support
Your bra should be relatively snug on your chest to keep the implants in place, but it shouldn’t flatten them or feel too tight.
- Adjustable straps
Because swelling and inflammation decreases during recovery, you may need to adjust your straps. Also keep in mind that the straps should be tight enough to support your breasts.
- Breathable fabric
You will be wearing your surgical bra 24/7 — breathable fabric such as a cotton blend will minimize moisture buildup.
Types of medical compression bras
Medical compression bras come in a variety of different styles. Here are the three most common types.
- Front-closure bras
This is the classic recovery bra. The benefit of the front closure bra, which either comes with zippers or hook and loop closures, is that you don’t have to lift your arms when you want to remove it. These bras are often recommended after axillary (underarm) breast augmentation surgery.
- Compression vests
The surgical vest is similar to the traditional medical compression bra except that it’s longer, extending further down the waist. The advantage is that it offers additional protection of the incisions, which makes it most suitable for patients who underwent breast augmentation surgery via the inframammary fold.
- Breast bands
Breast bands are placed above the breasts in order to prevent the implants from moving upwards. While they offer support, they do not provide compression or relief from discomfort.
When are sports bras recommended?
Medical compression bras are specialty garments, which means they are often more expensive than sports bras. For this reason, many women wonder if they can simply wear a sports bra throughout recovery.
Unfortunately, sports bras don’t provide the same level of support as surgical bras. They can also apply pressure across your breasts, therein causing your implants to flatten. Despite these shortcomings, your surgeon may approve the use of a sports bra in place of a medical compression bra, provided that it offers enough support and doesn’t have an underwire.
Upon recovery, most surgeons will recommend transitioning into a sports bra before moving into more traditional undergarments.
Your sports bra should then meet the exact same criteria as your medical compression bra: it should feel comfortable, providing snug support without feeling too tight, and be underwire-less.
For further advice, feel free to reach out to Gary D. Breslow, MD at The Breslow Center for Plastic Surgery in Paramus, New Jersey today!