What Are the Effects if I Keep Wearing my Sports Bra After Breast Augmentation?

I am 2 weeks post op from breast augmentation. I was told I can wear any bra I'd like as long as its underwire free. I would like to know what the effects would be if I keep wearing the sports bra?

Doctor Answers 24

Here are some ill effects of wearing a sports bra after breast augmentation.

All of my colleagues have given answers that are thoughtful and informative, but they all seem to lack information about one problem I have seen in a few of my patients who wear a sports bra "too much" after surgery. I would define "too much" as most of the day and night, as in some patients who tell me when I ask them to remain braless during the day (when not exercising, jogging, etc.) and they respond with "But I HAVE to wear a bra!" Some patients are apparently raised that wearing a bra is essential for feminine modesty, and they feel so uncovered or psychologically "wrong" about being braless, they would actually violate my recommendation rather than go without a brassiere. 

Complete healing takes 6-12 months after breast augmentation, and things can change for that entire period, not just for the first few weeks or months.

Some surgeons apparently like the immobilization and gentle compression that a sports or stretch bra allows after surgery, as this can help reduce bleeding and bruising. But wait, I thought that was the job of the surgeon in the operating room! I personally recommend as perfect hemostasis (control of bleeding) in the operating room as possible, and then no bandage or compression bra--not needed. Drains should never be used when implants are involved--too much potential for bacterial contamination leading to capsular contracture. I know--drains are used to evacuate blood that can lead to capsular contracture, but how about better hemostasis so drains aren't considered "necessary?" 

I start with implant position a bit higher than ideal (gravity works on what % of patients???), have my patients use an elastic bandeau at night, and have them go braless during the day--they can wear a camisole or tube top-built in light bra is OK, but no tight or push-up bras (yet). As the implants near their desired positions (still a tiny bit high), then the nighttime bandeau is discontinued, and a supportive (not push-up or jog/stretch bra) bra is added to slow the rate of implant dropping into position. Remember, this takes 6-12 months until "final" position is achieved.

But, how about position and width of the implants side-side? (This is about position beneath the nipple/areola complex to give proper cleavage and "side boob.") Too high a profile for your breast base diameter and you get "Grand Canyon" wide cleavage--not good. Too close in the midline and you get uni-boob (and "wall-eye" nipples that point sideways.) So what does this have to do with jog or stretch bras being worn too much?

The problem is that the breast pocket is created surgically to be centered beneath the nipple/areola complex, and the chest in cross-section is an oval, with the breasts actually "pointing" slightly to the sides. In other words, the chest is not flat facing forward with the nipple/areola complexes pointing straight ahead. Yet a snug (non-cup) elastic sports or jog bra compresses the breasts inward, pushing the implants together in the midline, stretching and perhaps tearing a few of the fibers that connect the pockets to the breast bone centrally, and potentially creating or worsening uni-boob (known as symmastia). The not-yet-healed (for that aforementioned 6-12 months) pocket can close down laterally and seal shut, malpositioning the implants too far to the center. If worn too much and too long, this malposition and potential symmastia (uniboob or loss of cleavage) can become permanent.

And re-do surgery is the only way to correct this when it occurs.

I believe the way to avoid this unfortunate turn of events is to advise patients that for the first year or so until their breast pockets have healed completely, they should NOT wear any sports or stretch bra day and night, and in fact should probably go braless for a part of each day. I also have my patients move their implants in the surgically-created pocket to keep the capsule from becoming the exact same size as the implants. This allows the pockets to stay slightly larger than the implants, minimizing capsular contracture and enhancing softness and natural movement. Some surgeons feel implant movement exercises are not necessary, since there is always some movement of the implants, and if submuscular, the normal contraction of the muscles "massage" and move the implants "enough." Perhaps true, but I like to ensure the pockets stay open and the breast softness and movement "natural."

Every augmentation patient's implants drop with gravity and scar softening and stretch over time (unless capsular contracture occurs--fortunately rare if surgery is done carefully)--the only thing is we don't know how long this will take or how far the implants will drop over time. This is why I believe starting a bit higher than ideal, and ongoing follow-up after surgery is essential for 6-12 months. And why a bra day and night (especially a jog bra that presses inward) is NOT a smart thing when you want implants to drop and stay centered side-to-side. When position is almost perfect, then a supportive bra will slow any further drop and aid in maintaining proper position long-term.

Like most of my colleagues, I advise no underwire bra until a minimum of 3 weeks after surgery, or until the (crease) incision is not irritated by the wire. (Surgeons who use other incisions may not have this requirement). And, of course, all this good (and potentially bad) implant movement assumes the use of smooth implants.

Bottom line: ask your surgeon what his or her recommendation is (and perhaps why), since most of us have given this much thought and have actual reasons why we recommend what we do! Best wishes! Dr. Tholen

Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 255 reviews

Sport bra? underwire?

Dear Aet,
Thank you for your post.  I do not believe in not wearing an underwire bra after augmentation or lift, and actually recommend it.  I do not feel like it causes a problem with the incisions as long as they are taped and the bra fits well.  I am very protective of my patients with augmentations who are runners. I recommend that they buy the athleta underwire sports bra with the front adjustable straps. My patients really like this bra for running and find that it holds them very stable. It is cupped instead of compressing the breasts together. Some patients use an additional regular sports bra on top of this for extra security. Some like it for everyday wear in the initial post-operative period. Using a regular sports bra that just compresses the breast together rather than cups that keep their shape can cause flattening of the breasts especially in the early post operative period and wearing a bra that doesn't have enough support, especially when running or any bouncing type activity, can cause bottoming out or stretching of the breasts.
Best wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

No bra for 1 month

I prefer that the patients wear no bra for 1 month after surgery.  This allows the implants to fall into position.  If you wear a bra too much, it can hold the implants up and prevent them from falling into position.

Gary Lawton, MD, FACS
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 136 reviews

Wearing a Bra after Breast Augmentation surgery

We recomend patients to avoid wearing an underwire bra for 4 weeks after surgery. This allows the incision to fully heal and to avoid any irritation the underwire might cause. As far as wearing the sports bra, there is no real effect to your breasts if you continue to just wear the sports bra. You do want to allow time for your breasts to drop into the pocket that is created at the time of surgery, however your body will naturally allow that to happen. We also recomened using the SIlicone Gummy Bear implants, which allows you to not have to wear a sports bra at all. 

Peter J. Capizzi, MD
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 87 reviews

Sports Bra Usage Following Breast Augmentation

The management of support garments following breast augmentation varies from surgeon to surgeon and depends on a multitude of variables. In the immediate postoperative period we place our patients in a soft comfortable sports bra that’s worn for about six weeks. After six weeks we allow our patients to switch to an underwire bra.

Each patient’s situation is unique and for this reason the management of this issue is modified when necessary. In the majority of patients, we see no long term problems with the extended use of sports bras.

If you’re concerned about this issue, it’s important to consult your plastic surgeon. Your surgeon has information about your procedure that might impact this decision. 

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Sports bra after BA

Different surgeons have different recommendations for wearing bras after breast surgery. Sometimes it depends on what was does done.  Also breasts respond differently to the implants. Some stretch easily while others are tighter. One size does not fit all. You should ask your surgeon what is right for you.

Ronald Schuster, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 78 reviews

Sports bra after breast augmentation surgery

Continuing to wear your sports bra after breast augmentation surgery will have no ill effect.  I ask my patients to wear a supportive bra for the first 3 weeks after breast augmentation surgery around the clock then some sort of bra to give support to the enhanced breasts indefinitely.  I feel that the breasts will maintain their youthful appearance for a longer period of time rather than going completely bra-less at all times. 

As for under-wire bras, it's only an issue if the incisions are under your breast folds and the under-wire can irritate your healing wounds.  Otherwise, if the incisions are elsewhere, (i.e armpits, areola, umbilicus) then any bra will be OK.

Hope that helps!

Jimmy S. Firouz, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Wearing a bra after augmentation

The scar around your implant will be affected by pressure or lack of it.  I tell patients that you support a fractured bone until it is well healed when a scar forms around the fracture.  If you support the implant to an abnormal place while it is healing, the scar (or capsule) will form in that same abnormal place.  If on the other hand you are just supporting the actual breast tissue, and not the breast implant, then there should not be problems with forming the capsule in the wrong place.  I have unfortunately seen many patients that said that they had high riding implants that on revision I noticed that the scar in the lower portion of the breast had healed up, and after talking to the patient I concluded this was from the use of push up bras in the healing phase. This has some controversy with plastic surgeons however, but has worked will for me in my 24 years of practice.   You should talk to your own Board Certified Plastic Surgeon for their input.

Dan Mills, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Sports bra after breast augmentation

Thank you for the question.  doctors have different opinions with regards to post operation recovery based on their experiences.  It would be best to follow your surgeon's advice and notify him or her if you have any concerns.  Best of luck.  Dr. Michael Omidi

Michael M. Omidi, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Wear a bra

I recommend a supportive bra, preferable with an underwire for my patients because it offers more support.  Underwire or not, I think a bra with cups supports the shape of the breast.  Wearing a sports bra in place of a regular bra with cups may distort the shape of the breast because a sports bra is designed to be compressive.  The "compressed" look is not the shape we want after surgery.  I tell my patients it is OK to wear a sports bra when running or exercising but not in place a regular bra.

Thank you for your question.

Ralph R. Garramone, MD
Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 62 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.