Compression Bras after Breast Reduction Surgery

By Dr Jake Lim – Plastic Surgeon | Updated: February 16, 2024

How to Choose the Post-Surgical Bra after Breast Reduction Surgery

Breast reduction surgery is a procedure that can offer relief from physical discomfort and has become increasingly popular in Australia. While the surgery itself is a significant step, the post-operative care plays a crucial role in ensuring the desired outcome. One of the important considerations of this recovery phase is the compression bra. This specialised undergarment not only aids in the healing process but also ensures that the results of the surgery are maintained and optimised. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of compression bras following breast reduction surgery, shedding light on their benefits and offering guidance on making the right choice for your post-operative recovery.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr Lim performs breast reduction surgery and other breast procedures such as breast augmentation and breast lift.

Dr Lim’s 2024 Breast Reduction Guide

Breast Reduction Guide

What Is a Compression Bra?

A compression bra, often referred to as a post-surgical or medical-grade bra, is a unique undergarment meticulously designed to exert consistent and gentle pressure across the breast area. Its primary purpose is to facilitate the healing process, especially after surgical procedures involving the breasts. Made from materials that are both soft and sturdy, these bras ensure that the breasts are well-supported, minimising the risk of post-surgical complications.

Important Features of Compression Bras

  • Breathable Fabric: Most compression bras are crafted from materials that allow the skin to breathe, ensuring comfort even when worn for extended periods
  • Front Closures: Unlike many regular bras that fasten at the back, compression bras often feature front closures. This design makes them easier to put on and take off, especially when mobility is restricted post-surgery
  • Wide Straps: To distribute pressure evenly and reduce the risk of digging into the skin, compression bras typically come with wider straps compared to regular bras
  • No Underwires: While underwires in regular bras provide shape and support, they can be detrimental to the healing process post-surgery. As a result, compression bras are usually wire-free

How Compression Bras Differ from Regular Bras

  • Purpose: While regular bras are designed for daily wear and aesthetics, compression bras are tailored for therapeutic reasons, primarily aiding in post-surgical recovery
  • Design: Compression bras are more utilitarian in design, focusing on comfort and support rather than style or allure
  • Support: The level of support offered by compression bras is high. They ensure that the breasts remain stationary, reducing the risk of strain on healing incisions
  • Duration of Wear: Post-surgery, patients might be advised to wear compression bras continuously, even during sleep, for a specified duration. This level of continuous wear is not typical with regular bras
  • Adjustability: Many compression bras come with multiple adjustment points, allowing for changes in breast size due to swelling or the natural healing process

While both compression and regular bras serve the fundamental purpose of supporting the breasts, their specific functions, design elements, and intended duration of wear set them apart. For anyone undergoing breast surgery, understanding the benefits of a compression bra is vital to ensuring a smooth and efficient recovery.

Why Wear a Compression Bra After Breast Reduction Surgery?

There are many reasons why wearing a compression garment is recommended after breast reduction surgery. Here are some of them:

Reducing Swelling

Swelling is a natural response of the body to trauma, including surgical procedures. After breast reduction surgery, it’s common for patients to experience some degree of swelling in the operated area.

  • How Compression Bras Minimise Swelling: Compression bras are specifically designed to exert uniform pressure across the breasts. This even pressure helps in preventing fluid build-up, which is a primary cause of swelling. By compressing the tissues, these bras facilitate the movement of lymphatic fluid, preventing it from accumulating at the surgical site
  • The Role of Reduced Swelling in Healing: Minimising swelling is not just about aesthetics or comfort; it plays a crucial role in the healing process. Reduced swelling means less tension on the surgical incisions, decreasing the risk of wound separation. Furthermore, by controlling swelling, compression bras can help reduce pain and the risk of complications, ultimately leading to a smoother recovery

Support and Shaping

After breast reduction surgery, the breasts undergo a significant transformation in size and shape. During the recovery phase, it’s essential to provide them with the right support to maintain their new form.

  • Providing Necessary Support: Compression bras are structured to offer optimal support to the breasts, holding them in place and preventing unnecessary movement. This support is vital in the initial days post-surgery when the breasts are most vulnerable
  • Maintaining Surgical Results and Preventing Sagging: The healing phase post-surgery is when the breasts start to settle into their new shape. Wearing a compression bra ensures that they heal in the desired position. By providing consistent support, these bras also help in preventing premature sagging, ensuring that the results of the surgery are long-lasting

Comfort and Protection

The post-operative phase can be a challenging time, with patients experiencing discomfort due to the surgery. Compression bras are designed keeping this in mind.

  • Soft Material and Design: Made from materials that are gentle on the skin, compression bras prioritise comfort. Their seamless design ensures that there are no rough edges or stitches that might irritate the sensitive post-surgical skin
  • Protection of Incision Sites: One of the primary functions of a compression bra is to protect the surgical incisions. By holding the breasts securely, these bras prevent any tugging or pulling on the stitches. The snug fit also acts as a barrier, reducing the risk of external contaminants reaching the incision sites, thereby decreasing the chances of infection
  • Reducing Discomfort: The even pressure provided by compression bras can have a soothing effect, alleviating pain and discomfort. By keeping the breasts stationary, these bras also reduce the strain on the healing tissues, further enhancing comfort during the recovery phase

In essence, wearing a compression bra post breast reduction surgery is not just a recommendation but a necessity. It aids in ensuring that the recovery is swift, the results are optimal, and the patient’s comfort is prioritised.

Breast Reduction Patient 13 — Front View
Breast Reduction Patient 13 — Front View

Click here to see more pictures.

Top 10 Tips to Choose the Right Post-Op Bra

1. Consult Your Plastic Surgeon: Your plastic surgeon is your primary source of guidance post-surgery. He has a deep understanding of the intricacies of your procedure and can provide tailored advice on post-operative care. During your pre-op or post-op consultations, it’s beneficial to ask for specific bra brands or features he recommends. His expertise, combined with the experience with past patients, can be invaluable in guiding your choice

2. Prioritise Comfort: After surgery, your body will be in a delicate state of healing, and any additional discomfort from an ill-fitting bra can be detrimental. It’s essential to opt for bras with a soft lining. If possible, trying them on beforehand can ensure they don’t have any irritating tags or seams that might cause discomfort

3. Ensure a Snug Fit: A well-fitting bra is crucial post-surgery. It provides the necessary compression without being overly restrictive, which can hinder blood flow. To ensure you’re selecting the right size, consider getting professionally measured post-surgery. This will account for any changes in size due to the procedure

4. Avoid Underwires: Underwires, while beneficial in regular bras, can be problematic post-surgery. They can press against incision sites, leading to discomfort or even complications. It’s best to look for bras specifically labelled as “wire-free” or “soft cup” during the initial recovery phase

5. Front Closures are Best: Your range of motion may be limited after surgery, especially if the procedure was on or around the upper body. Front closures, such as easy-to-use hooks, zips, or Velcro, become more practical in such scenarios, making the bra easier to put on and remove

6. Adjustability is Key: The recovery phase can see fluctuations in swelling, which can affect breast size. Bras with adjustable straps and multiple hook settings can accommodate these changes, ensuring you have a comfortable fit throughout your recovery

7. Seamless Design: Seams, while often unnoticeable in everyday wear, can become a source of irritation on sensitive post-surgical skin. Opting for bras with a seamless or smooth finish can prevent this unnecessary discomfort

8. Full Coverage: Comprehensive coverage in a post-op bra ensures that the entire breast area, including any incision sites, is well-protected and supported. Bras described as “full cup” or “full coverage” are designed to offer this level of protection, ensuring maximum support during the critical healing phase

9. Easy Maintenance: The post-operative phase can be challenging, and the last thing you’d want is a bra that requires special care. Opt for bras that are machine-washable and avoid those with intricate care instructions

10. Read Reviews: Personal experiences can offer a wealth of information. By visiting online retailers or forums dedicated to post-surgical care, you can gain insights into a bra’s real-world performance

FAQs about Compression Bras after Breast Reduction Surgery

A compression bra is specifically designed to provide uniform pressure across the breast area, which aids in reducing swelling, improving blood circulation, and supporting the newly shaped breasts. This ensures a smoother healing process and helps maintain the results of the surgery.

Q. How long should I wear a compression bra post-surgery?

The recommended duration varies depending on the individual and the specifics of the surgery. Most often, Dr Lim advises patients to wear a compression bra continuously, even during sleep, for several weeks post-surgery. It’s essential to follow your plastic surgeon’s advice for the best results.

Q. Can I wear a regular bra soon after my surgery?

It’s advisable to avoid regular bras, especially those with underwires, during the initial recovery phase. Regular bras might not provide the necessary support and compression needed post-surgery, and underwires can irritate incision sites. Once your plastic surgeon gives the green light, you can transition back to regular bras.

Q. How do I choose the right size for my compression bra?

Choosing the right size is crucial for comfort and effective healing. It’s a good idea to get professionally measured after your surgery to account for changes in breast size. The bra should fit snugly but not too tightly. If possible, trying the bra on before purchasing can ensure a proper fit.

Q. How often should I clean my compression bra?

Given that you’ll be wearing your compression bra continuously, it’s essential to keep it clean. Ideally, you should have multiple bras to rotate, allowing you to wash one while wearing the other. Follow the care instructions provided with the bra, but in general, it’s good to wash it every couple of days to maintain hygiene.

Q. Are there any potential side effects of wearing a compression bra?

When worn correctly and for the recommended duration, compression bras are safe and beneficial. Keep in mind that wearing a bra that’s too tight can restrict blood flow, leading to complications. It’s essential to ensure a proper fit and consult with your plastic surgeon if you experience any unusual discomfort or symptoms.

Further Reading about Breast Surgery with Dr Lim

Medical References about Compression Garments and Breast Reduction Surgery

About Dr Jake Lim

Highly qualified and experienced specialist plastic surgeon Dr Jake Lim focuses on facial plastic, cosmetic breast and body contouring after significant weight loss

Dr Lim creates the best possible plastic surgery results for his Australia-wide and international patients.

Dr Lim is passionate about making sure each and every patient has access to the right information about available treatments and procedures and is able to make well-informed decisions.

At My Klinik, patient safety, education and achieving optimal results are our top priorities.