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Why a compression bra is better than a sports bra after breast surgery

How medical compression bras support healing

Post Surgery Bra


After any kind of breast surgery – mastectomy, lumpectomy, reconstruction, reduction or augmentation, you want to be sure you are helping your body to heal as effectively as possible. So what bra should you get to wear immediately after surgery? Surgeons will often recommend a sports bra, as they have soft cups, no underwires and are designed to stop your breasts bouncing too much during exercise.  Although sports bras are great for exercising, they’re not really the best option after surgery. In this article, we take a closer look at why it’s better to opt for a compression bra that’s designed for the job.


What happens after breast surgery?
To understand why compression bras are so important, it helps to consider what happens after breast surgery. Cancer treatment often includes the removal of your lymph nodes – part of the body’s natural drainage system that helps maintain fluid levels and rid the body of toxins. If your lymphatic system is compromised, your body cannot maintain these fluid levels so effectively. During surgery, you may also experience some inflammation and the surgery site might be swollen and bruised.   

Reducing the risk of fluid retention and severe bruising is key to your recovery and important when it comes to achieving a good result. This is when compression garments provide a better solution than sports bras. 

Fit for purpose?
Sports bras are designed to support your breasts during exercise and their features work really well, however, they don’t work so well for those who have just had surgery. Here are four reasons why a compression bra is the better option:

Ease of access
Most sports bras are closed at the back or behind the neck. Many are designed to be put on over the head. These options aren’t great if you’ve had major surgery, because for a while it may be painful to reach your arms above your head or behind your back. This means you will struggle to put the bra on, do it up, or take it off without help. Compression bras fasten at the front, which makes dressing easier and allows better access to the surgery site.
Support where it’s needed
A sports bra rarely has a deep enough underband to provide the support you need after surgery, nor does it allow for any post-operative swelling, which means it can quickly cut in and could restrict lymphatic drainage. And because it’s not the job of a sports bra to apply even pressure across the back, lack of support, or design features like racer-back straps, can quickly lead to lymph fluid accumulating in your lower back. Compression bras have padded, adjustable straps for a perfect fit, a wider underband and special panels to help with lymphatic drainage, plus the option to add a compression belt.

Soft and seamless
Fabrics and seams play a role too. Sports bras are rarely seamless and these seams can rub on newly operated skin, which at the very least can be painful and at worst can lead to blood clots. Compression bras are designed to be worn immediately after surgery. Care is taken to use only seamless designs in soft fabrics that will not irritate sensitive wounds or scar tissue.

Designed for the best results
There is also little choice in the level of support and compression with a sports bra. Most won’t support a woman’s surgery site in the right way – they could be too loose, but they could also be too tight and, unlike a compression bra, they are not designed to keep operated tissue in place for the best surgical outcomes. Compression bras offer the right amount of stability and support as well as ensuring optimal lymphatic drainage.   

A good compression bra isn’t just more comfortable after breast surgery – it is critical to a successful result. Designed to help reduce post-operative bleeding and swelling, as well as to support tender skin, a compression bra keeps operated breast tissue in place to support your surgery site while it heals.

The right level of compression
The type of surgery you’re about to undergo will determine the best compression bra for you. Amoena’s post-surgery bras come in low, medium and high compression levels:

amoena layla


The seamless LEYLA compression bra with front closure, here in combination with the Amoena Anchor and Mammilla Circle silicone patches. Silicones keep the scar soft and supple (can only be used after wound closure). LEYLA is suitable for direct clinical use immediately after breast surgery due to the pre-washing procedure.  

amoena sina


The SINA postoperative compression bra with seamless circular knitting technology. Special knitted zones and targeted medium pressure levels support lymphatic drainage and the healing process. Adjustable straps with Velcro fasteners, front fastening and pre-formed, flexible cups are designed to fit the woman, not the other way around . 


Post Surgical Compression Bras  - see the full Amoena range here


How long should you wear a compression bra?
A compression bra should be worn continually for the first couple of weeks after surgery – wearing it day and night will help keep you comfortable and well supported. How long you continue wearing it will depend on the surgery you’ve had, but could be for up to 6-8 weeks. Your breast care team will be able to advise you about this. It’s best to have at least two compression bras so that you can wash them regularly.

Can I still wear a sports bra?
Although not the ideal option to wear immediately after surgery, sports bras can be worn again once your wound has fully healed and you feel ready to go back to sport or exercise after recovery. Do be gentle with yourself, though, and make sure you take your time before attempting to bounce around again. Your body will thank you for it.