Are Post Surgery Bra's for Support or to Keep Compression?

I am 11 days out and the bra is my only issue. I am wearing an XL sports bra but by the end of the day my breats and back or tingling like it is too tight. Can I wear a larger bra that does not compress the breasts or is compression what is needed

Doctor Answers 15

Use of a Bra for Compression and Support Following Breast Surgery

The use of a post-surgical bra following breast surgery (augmentation, lift, reduction) is for both support and compression. Providing good support is more important than excessive compression. The ‘support’ will decrease post-operative pain and discomfort, reduce early stress on the skin closures, and help reduce dependent swelling within the breast. The ‘compression’ will help reduce swelling and enhance its resolution.

In fact, any type of garment that provides breast support and compression can be utilized. Immediately after the operation, I place patients in a Surgilast tube top. This is a tubular elastic dressing that has a fishnet appearance. It is easy to place and avoids the need to worry about a properly fitting bra. Some patients continue this post-op and others change to a sports or other comfortable bra. I emphasize to my patients that whatever they chose to wear should provide support and compression, but most of all be comfortable. I want my patients to actually wear the garment for its benefits, so I certainly don’t want the garment to increase post-op discomfort.

I recommend that patients wear post-op support and compression (every day, all day) for 6 weeks following surgery. During this time I prefer that they avoid an under wire bra. Patients can begin wearing an under wire bra after their swelling has subsided, the inframammary skin closures are healed and non-tender, and their implants have settled like I expect.

It does sound as if the bra you are wearing is too tight, and you should find one that fits more comfortably. I’m sure your surgeon can offer some suggestions to help you.

Best wishes. Ken Dembny

Milwaukee Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Post-op bra's after augmentation

Great question.  Every surgeon will have a different recommendation or reason for post-operative bra/garments.

I feel a sports bra should be worn for light support and light compression. Your breasts should feel comfortable in the bra.  You should be wearing your post-operative bra 24/7 for at least 4 weeks.

If your bra feels to tight, it most likely is.  It is always good to ask your surgeon and even show them what the bra looks like on. 

Going to a larger size bra should not effect or interfer with your final results, which can take up to 6 weeks for everything to settle out and be a natural shape.

Sarah E. McMillan, MD
Bellevue Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Purpose of postop bra

The purpose is two-fold: support and compression. Compression to reduce the postop swelling and support without underwires that cut into the breasts. The question is not always size but fit so, if you have concerns that the bra doesn't fit properly, see a local corsetiere.

Sports bra after breast augmentation

My concern with the bra being too tight is it may be pushing the implants upwards.  If the bra is acting as a push-up bra, the implants may stay high and never drop.

You may want to have the fit checked with your surgeon.

Michael A. Jazayeri, MD
Santa Ana Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Post Surgical Bra?

Thank you for the question.

The postsurgical bra should fit comfortably;  if it is to type it may cause blistering or skin pigment changes. I'm sure wearing a larger bra will still provide the benefits of support and mild compression without the downsides that you have described. Your plastic surgeon's 's office will likely be able to help with specifics.

Best wishes.

Support bras after breast surgery

After most breast procedures patients are provided with a post surgical bra to wear for the first few weeks after surgery.  My take is that the bra provides some compression to speed the resolution of swelling, and also some support for increased comfort.  I typically keep patients in soft bras for the first few months after breast augmentation until i'm sure the implants have settled satisfactorily.  For breast reductions and breast lift patients, I usually allow the use of a more supportive bra afte 4-6 weeks if there are no wound healing issues.  If the bra you are wearing feels to tight, it probably is.  You may want to discuss this with your plastic surgeon or one of his/her staff members to see if they can help you find one that fits more comfortably.

Kelly Gallego, MD, FACS
Yuba City Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Post operative bra

I usually have my patients wear a post operative sports bra for two weeks after surgery to help support the tissues and compress any swelling.  However, if you are having issues with your bra, I would suggest contacting your surgeon's office to seek alternatives.  If you are already two weeks post op, you can likely just use any support bra that is comfortable.  


Good Luck.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

Use of bra's after breast augmentation

Like many things in surgery, there is no consensus on the use of surgical bras after a breast augmentation. However, I'm sure all surgeons would advise that you wear something that minimises your discomfort, and not contribute to your level of discomfort. Given this, it is always best to bring such concerns to the attention of your surgeon and they will advise what is most appropriate for you given your circumstances.

Personally, I do not believe the use a compression dressing/bandage/bra after surgery serves any purpose other than to make the patients feel more uncomfortable. It certainly doesn't control swelling, or most importantly it would not logically improve the long term results.
Having said that, all our patients are placed in a "surgical bra" after surgery. These are light fitting bras designed to simply support the breasts, and therefore provide a degree of comfort. They are not used to apply any significant compression. This is put on at the end of surgery so that when my patients wake up it's already on. I firmly believe that gentle support of the breasts provides a great deal of comfort during the early recovery phase. Furthermore, I believe all breasts newly augmented or old, need constant support.
All my patients are advised to wear this surgical bra for 6 weeks. However, we advise all our patients to purchase one or two inexpensive sports bras or crop tops so they have something to wear when they're washing the other during this first six week period.

At the 6 week stage once most of the swelling has resolved, all our patients are then advised to be formally fitted for new bras.

Eddy Dona, MBBS, FRACS
Sydney Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Post surgery bras for support and compression

For your specific concerns, you should speak with your plastic surgeon. They may suggest an alternative for the support bra and compression such as a different garment for support.

Light Weight Support/Compression Bras after a Breast Augmentation

Thank you for your question.  The use of a surgical bra post-op following a breast augmentation, lift or reduction surgery is for both compression and support, as well as comfort.  If you are experiencing tingling of your breasts or back while wearing your sports bra, I would recommend following up with your doctor for an in-person evaluation as your sports bra is most likely too tight.  I have my patients wear a light weight compression sports bra after surgery to help reduce swelling and to decrease post-op discomfort by supporting the breasts 24/7 for the first 4 weeks after their procedure.  Wearing a sports bra in this way should help to reduce stress on your incisions as well as the post-op swelling and should keep you comfortable and supported.  The key here is light compression and light support. 

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.