Recommendations regarding post-operative support garments vary between surgical practices. In general, most surgeons recommend a full-time support garment to be worn for 6 weeks after breast augmentation, even when sleeping. This may be a sports bra or surgical compression garment. The goal of a bra after breast augmentation is to support the breasts, decrease swelling, and to secure them in position during early healing. How long should one avoid wearing an underwire bra after breast augmentation?
I generally recommend for patients to avoid an underwire bra after breast augmentation for 6 weeks. The inframammary fold incision (hidden in the fold beneath the breast) is the most common approach used for breast augmentation in my practice. I recommend against an underwire bra after breast augmentation during early healing since the wire may irritate the incision and produce more friction in this location. Underwire bras if worn during early healing may increase risk of wound healing complications or cause more discomfort. Underwire bras are generally not as supportive as sports bra or surgical compression garments, which is another reason to avoid them for six weeks post-operatively. More supportive garments are recommended to reduce swelling and to support the chest as healing takes place.
Implants are often placed in the submuscular plane for thin patients to lower the risk of implant visibility and palpability. When implants are placed in the submuscular plane, they often take a few months to settle into position due to pectoralis muscle spasm. Implants often appear high on the chest wall during early healing after breast augmentation when placed below the muscle. An underwire bra after breast augmentation may prevent submuscular implants from settling into the appropriate position during muscle spasm and should not be worn for six weeks.
It is important to wear a sports bra or supportive garment while sleeping for the first six weeks following breast augmentation. Sleeping on one’s back is also recommended to protect the surgical site and to lower the risk of developing asymmetric swelling or implant malposition. Over the first two weeks after breast augmentation, steri strips – small pieces of surgical tape – are placed overlying the incisions. They are removed at two weeks during routine follow up. It is then recommended to apply paper tape overlying the incisions over the first 3-4 months after breast augmentation. This may hydrate and increase scar temperature, which may expedite scar maturation. At six weeks post-operatively, a patient may resume wearing an underwire bra after breast augmentation if desired. The paper tape may still be worn with an underwire bra and removed before showering and then replaced.
Please contact us if considering breast augmentation in the Toronto region to schedule a consultation with female plastic surgeon Dr. Power!