"Compression" Bra Versus "Sports" Bra

What is the difference between a compression bra & a sports bra? Although my surgeon provides a compression bra after surgery, I will need some other type of supportive bra while the compression garment is being washed. Compression bras are expensive & if a sports bra (w/ a front zipper so I don't have to raise my arms)will do the same thing, then I'd rather not spend the $50+ to buy a special garment.

Doctor Answers 12

Does the postoperative bra really matter

Hi there-

As my colleagues have mentioned, there is going to be a great deal of variability on this among surgeons...

Here's the bottom line, though...

You chose your surgeon (HOPEFULLY) because he/she is well trained, experienced, easy to get along with, and has a great reputation. You've seen photos of his work and believe he can achieve your goals for you safely.

So that being the case, why would you compromise your surgeon's chances of making you happy by second guessing their protocol- or worse, having your deviation from their postoperative regimen validated by surgeons on this site??

If you chose your surgeon for the right reasons, and your goal is to be safe and happy- you owe it to your surgeon and yourself to follow their instructions to the letter- and even if they are different than what other surgeons might do. 

What bra to wear after breast augmentation.

Essentially, the goal of the bra is to support the newly placed implant while the capsule forms and the breast heals. The term "compression" bra is confusing. A supportive cup bra (with or without an underwire) will support the implant. A sports bra will tend to put uniform pressure across the breast, causing it to flatten. Give your plastic surgeon a call and find out what he or she recommends. If you only need a bra for the time while the other is being washed, a $50 specialty bra sounds like a waste of money.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

The best bra after breast augmentation

Surgeons will have personal preferences concerning bras right after breast augmentation, and some do not use any at all. The key is support and comfort and we use a soft cup bra without an under-wire, snug on the chest to help set the implant in the pocket, with a band wrap over the breast to keep the area still and reduce swelling and soreness. Patients can be out of the bra long enough to wash them so a second should not be needed.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Compression band after augmentation

Thank you for your question. Your surgeon may be wanting to influence the decent of the implants within the breasts over the first six months after surgery as it usually takes several months for the breasts to settle out. If the strap or bra is uncomfortable I would revisit with your surgeon to see if there are other options. I often to transition my patients to a sports bra with a front zipper after a week.  I would recommend following your surgeon's instructions and follow-up.

Compression will vary from patient to patient.

In the vast majority of patients, we don’t use a bra strap or surgical bra in the post-operative period.There are exceptions, but these are rare.In most cases, we place our patients in a compressive ace wrap dressing which applies mild pressure to the area.This helps minimize swelling and makes patients more comfortable.It also decreases the potential for displacement of the new breast implants within the newly formed breast pocket.
When we perform submuscular augmentation, we feel that the ace wrap dressing helps to prevent superior displacement of the breast implants.This can occur with spasm of the pectoralis major muscles and result in loss of the inferior breast pocket expansion.When superior displacement of implants occurs, a bra strap may be indicated.
The vast majority of patients are switched to a sports bra one week after surgery.They wear this bra for about 6 weeks and, in most cases, are able to switch to an underwire bra at that time.
It’s important to realize that every patient’s situation is unique.For this reason, the management of compression garments needs to be individualized.

Sports Bra vs Compression Bra

Please follow your surgeon's instructions on this. It would probably be okay to wear a sports bra, as long as it provides good support and is soft without underwire, however ask your surgeon.  

Compression bra after breast augmentation

You should follow the advice of your plastic surgeon. All plastic surgeons will have a different routine for post operative care. Your plastic surgeon understands your surgery and your anatomy and is in the best position for making this decision. Some plastic surgeons like underwire bras others want you to avoid their use.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Bra After Surgery

Here, again, different experts will have different preferences.

Your best advice is to do what the surgeon of your choosing recommends.

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Bras after surgery

Some surgeons do not use any bra.  I use a soft bra just to keep the dressing inside the bra cup. It is not used for compression or support of the breasts.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

What type of bra to wear after implant surgery?

There is a wide range of opinions on this subject, but my preference is for a bra that provides support more than compression. We don't really want to compress the breast into a flatter shape after augmentation. It is important to have the implants securely held in position though. Your surgeon should be able to give you specific advice.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.