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bras to wear after breast surgery

Whether you’ve had a mastectomy, lumpectomy, or breast augmentation, one of your first questions post-procedure will likely be, “What are the best bras to wear after breast surgery?”

Breast surgery can not only change your size, but also the kinds of styles that work for you. Not to mention, in the immediate weeks following your surgery, you may be dealing with tenderness, discomfort, or other sensations that demand special considerations in choosing the right bra. In other words, the bras you were wearing before your procedure probably aren’t going to cut it.

So, which ones will be most helpful during — and after — your healing process?

Fret not — in this guide, we’ll offer advice on all aspects of choosing the right post-surgery bras for you.

Step 1: Follow the doctor’s orders.

After you get surgery, your doctor should make recommendations where bras are concerned. Be sure to heed their advice, as it will pertain to the specific procedure you had. Dr. William Adams Jr., a Texas-based plastic surgeon and Associate Clinical Professor of Plastic Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center, claims that some doctors may even instruct patients to forgo wearing a bra for several days after undergoing surgery, while others may suggest special post-surgical bras while the tissue heals. According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, most surgeons recommend wearing surgical bras and support bras in the first three to six weeks after a procedure.

After six weeks have passed, much of the swelling will likely have gone down, but it’s possible you may have some discomfort or tenderness. At this point, you may want to wear a supportive sports bra before going back to your traditional underwire bras. Supportive, wire-free bras can be ideal in the healing process because they are slightly less rigid/structured but still help to protect the ligaments in your breasts. Many women prefer to wear front-close bras after getting surgery, as these are far easier to take off and put on given that the clasp is right in front of the bra.

Dr. Emily Kirby, a board certified plastic surgeon, recommends trying a compression sports bra, which can ensure that any incisions heal adequately and implants settle into their proper position. She notes that if you’ve undergone augmentation, underwire bras may potentially cause some irritation at an incision site if it’s under the breast (in the inframammary fold).

Remember: It’s crucial to follow your doctor’s recommendations. And while you may be itching to go back to underwire bras, wait until your surgeon gives you the go-ahead to ensure that you don’t interfere with the healing process. And the most important thing in terms of comfort and support, of course, is that your bras fit flawlessly. Breast Cancer Care suggests finding bras that fit on the loosest hook so that you can tighten as needed as the swelling goes down post-surgery.

Related: What Is A Wireless Bra?

where to buy post breast surgery bras

Step 2: Find out your new bra size.

You may be eager to figure out your new bra size, but it’s best to wait at least four weeks before getting fitted. After all, you probably won’t be able to accurately assess your size until the swelling has completely gone down. So, if you buy bras before the breasts have totally healed, they may end up fitting poorly (and worse, hinder the healing process).

Dr. Kirby advises asking your surgeon for their guidance on when it’s appropriate to invest in some new bras. Typically, she says it’s advisable to buy new bras at intervals. For example, you might buy a couple of new bras five weeks after your surgery and then invest in a couple more several months later. Without a doubt, this is the exciting part. Now that you’ve fully healed, you can pick out some fun new bras that are well-suited to your needs and preferences — and who doesn’t love an excuse to go shopping? Be sure to have a professional bra fitting before buying any new bras.

Fittings are available at many department stores and lingerie boutiques, either by appointment or walk-in. If you do call ahead to book an appointment, don’t be afraid to ask to be seen by a fitter who has specialized experience in women who have had breast surgery. A pro can not only measure you to find out your new size but also make suggestions as to which styles will work well for your breast shape.

And as for those bras that don’t fit you anymore? There are so many women in need of undergarments — and there are a number of nonprofit organizations that will take your lightly-used bra donations.

Related: Ask A Bra Fitter: What Are Bra Fittings Like?

bras for after breast surgery

Step 3: Test out some new styles.

Without a doubt, one of the most exciting elements of shopping for new bras is that you’ll get to try out some new styles you may never have considered before. Depending on the surgery you got, you may decide to look for bras with more or less padding, seaming, different kinds of cuts, and other features as well.

If you’ve had a lumpectomy, Everyday Health advises opting for bras made with fabrics that have good “recovery” — meaning they bounce back to their shape quickly after stretching out. That typically means synthetic blends or polyester — cotton, while comfy and breathable — is not ideal in the recovery department.

If you’ve had a unilateral or partial mastectomy, you may want to try a pocketed bra that you can add a cutlet to, which can help to achieve a more even look between both breasts. Some women may use a symmetry shaper as well. Or, if you’d like to go the prosthetic route, look into Nordstrom’s Breast Prosthesis Program. Through this program, a certified fitter can help you find the right bra that will help you to look and feel comfortable and supported after your reconstructive surgery.

If you’ve had reconstructive surgery, note that you may want to stay away from bras that are super high on the sides, which may cause gaping given that women with implants typically have less tissue there. A plunge bra can be universally flattering and may be less likely to cause that issue as it features narrower angled cups and lower cut sides.

Of course, finding the right bra depends on the surgery you had. In the first year following surgery, Breast Cancer Care recommends wearing bras with a wide underband, separated cups, fully adjustable straps, and minimal detailing. All of these aspects will contribute to the comfort of your bra, as well as the support it can offer (both of which are super important after surgery!).

Above all, stay open-minded. You may be surprised to find that a style you’d never have previously considered is actually super flattering to your new bustline. Consider shopping in person until you’re sure you’ve fully recovered. After all, you can’t try on bras that you buy online, and you may need to get a sense of what works as you get used to the changes your breasts have gone through. So head to your local department store or lingerie boutique — and why not bring along some girlfriends on your shopping trip to get their take in the fitting room?

Remember: It is possible to find bras that are comfortable, supportive, and help to facilitate your healing process. As long as you heed the advice of your surgeon, get fitted by a professional, and take some time trying out a variety of styles, you’re sure to find some post-surgery bras that can meet your needs.

Related: How To Build A Lingerie Wardrobe You Love

post breast surgery bras

We Highly Recommend

Whether you’re shopping for new everyday bras or lingerie for a special occasion, it’s always a good idea to seek out a second opinion. We know how hard it is to find bras that fit well and feel good, especially when you’re doing it on your own. If you’ve ever felt unsure about your bra size or you just don’t know where to go to find good bras, it’s time to let a bra fitter help.

Many specialty lingerie boutiques offer bra fittings. Their expert bra fitters will take the pain and frustration out of bra shopping and do all the work for you. Even better, their product knowledge can save you time and money. Plus, they know where all of the best bras are hiding.

If you’ve struggled with finding bras in the right size, it’s time to make a change. Visit our specialty store locator to find a store near you and schedule an appointment.

Happy bra shopping!

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be medical advice and it is not meant to be a substitute for a professional’s opinion. Be sure to consult your doctor if you notice any changes in your breasts. Breast self exams are not a replacement for regular exams by your doctor.
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Published by

Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.

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