A post-surgical bra following breast surgery provides both compression and support. However, proper support is more important than excessive compression. Adequate breast ‘support’ will reduce post-operative pain and discomfort, decrease early stress on the skin closures, and help to reduce (gravity-related) swelling within the breast. Breast ‘compression’ will help reduce swelling and enhance its resolution, while also reducing post-operative pain and discomfort.
Each surgeon may have his or her preference as to the type of bra or garment they have their patients wear. In theory, almost any type of garment that provides breast compression and support can be utilized after augmentation surgery (with two caveats). If a bra is utilized, it is important that the width of the cup properly fit the width of the swollen augmented breast. Underwire bras are usually avoided for several weeks after surgery.
Immediately after the operation, I place patients in a Surgilast® tube top. This is a tubular elastic dressing that has a fishnet appearance, and is worn around the chest/breasts like any other tube top. It is easy to place, comfortable, and avoids the need to worry about a properly fitting bra. Some patients continue this post-op, while others choose to change to a sports (or other comfortable) bra. I emphasize that whatever garment my patient chooses to wear should be comfortable – so she actually wears it and benefits from the compression and support needed during the recovery.
I want my patients to wear their support garment every day, all day, for at least six weeks following surgery. During this time I prefer that they avoid an underwire bra. Patients can begin wearing an under wire bra when their surgeon decides the time is appropriate — usually this is after the swelling has subsided, the inframammary skin closures are healed and non-tender, and the implants have settled as expected.
With respect to purchasing new bras, it is important that the majority of the swelling be resolved and the implants have settled into place. The initial post-operative swelling and upper pole fullness produce a breast shape that is much different from what is present after the swelling resolves and the implant volume settles into the lower portion of the breast. A bra that fits well three or four weeks after surgery may not fit well eight weeks after surgery. Since good bras can be quite expensive we recommend that women wait at least eight weeks following surgery (or until the implants have settled well) before purchasing expensive bras that they wish to wear for a long time.