Compression Garments after Breast Surgery

If you are considering undergoing breast surgery, (whether it is a Breast Augmentation, Reduction or a Lift) the chances are you’ve heard about wearing a compression garment after breast surgery. But just because you’ve heard about them doesn’t mean you understand why they are so important or what they actually do. That’s what we will help you understand.

Below is information regarding; what compression garments do, the different types, the benefits of wearing one as well as answers to the most frequently asked questions and more.

What is a Compression Garment?

  • A compression garment is a firm fitting, compressive undergarment (Bra, singlet, underwear, bodysuit, shorts etc) that is lightweight and stretchy.
  • It is often made of a combination of nylon, nylon and/or spandex(elastane).
  • They give the patient much needed support and pressure after surgery.

 Benefits of Compression Garments After Breast Surgery

There are many benefits to wearing a compression garment after breast surgery including the following;

1. Helps Reduce Both Swelling and Bruising

Swelling and bruising are part of any surgical recovery. However, wearing a compression garment after your breast surgery evenly applies pressure over the surgical area. This not only helps prevent fluid build-up and retention but also helps compress the blood vessels around the chest, preventing too much blood and fluid from flowing towards the wound/incision area.

Without a compression garment swelling and bruising are worse which also creates more pain for the patient and a longer recovery time as swelling and bruising take time to dissipate.

2. Can help prevent Blood Clots from Forming

Blood clots are a risk when it comes to any surgical procedure. Wearing a compression garment can significantly reduce the risk of blood clots forming. This is because they help circulate the blood through the body.
Good circulation is also a vital part of the healing process.

3. Can Speed up the Healing Process which in turn reduces patient recovery time

Wearing a compression garment can help implants settle in the correct place, as well as, help your skin contract into its new position.  They can also help you feel more secure and assist you to move, post-surgery. In addition to these factors, constant pressure can also help alleviate some of your post-op pain and discomfort.

Post Breast Surgery Support Garments – Stage 1 and Stage 2

Stage 1

  • Patients will wear stage one garment immediately after surgery for between two and four weeks depending on several factors, including the; type of surgery, surgeon’s preference and rate of patient’s physical healing.
  • Stage one post-op garments usually have front fastenings. This makes them easy to put on and take off as they do not require patients to extend their arms. They are also wire-free.
  • These garments help drain excess fluid away from your breasts which in turn helps reduces both swelling and bruising.
  • These compression bras must be worn 24/7. The only time patients should be without their compression bra during stage 1 is when showering.

Stage 2

  • Generally, stage 2 bras are compressive sports bras, with no underwire.
  • These help with long-term recovery.
  • At this stage, the body is not producing as much excess fluid.
  • However, extra support is still necessary as the body is still recovering.
  • Ideally, stage two garments should be worn until you have fully recovered from your Breast Surgery.
  • Although they offer similar compression to stage 1 garments, stage 2 garments don’t need to be worn 24/7 (you can have a break). That being said, there is no harm in wearing them all the time.

How to choose the Best Compression/Support Garment after Breast Surgery

As previously mentioned a good compression bra has many benefits. It is an essential part of your recovery. But how do you choose the right one for you? Here are some things to consider when choosing your post-surgery compression bra;

  1. Front closing – Bras that close at the front require less manoeuvrability. Your movement will be limited in the initial few weeks, having a front closing bra is easier to adjust and take off.
  2. Adjustable straps – This may seem like a no brainer but not all bras have them. This is important to ensure you have the right support throughout your recovery.
  3. No Underwire – choosing a compression bra with no underwire will maximise your comfort. Underwear can dig into your incisions and cause irritation. Underwire bras should be avoided until your breasts have fully recovered.
  4. Breathable Material – Breathable material equals less sweat and proper ventilation, whereas materials that don’t breathe mean poor ventilation and sweating which increases your risk of infection.
  5. No excess pressure – While this may sound strange because you want your compression bra to be firm fitting what you don’t want is uneven weight distribution and discomfort. It should be firm and comfortable all over, it should not dig in or be uncomfortable to wear.
  6. Antibacterial – Your compression bra should contain antibacterial properties to prevent bacteria from growing, infection and bad odours.

So in summary, the best compression bra for you is one that is front closing with adjustable straps, made of a breathable, antibacterial fabric that is also comfortable and supportive enough to wear all day every day to further support your healing and recovery.

FAQS about Breast Surgery Garments

How can I prevent swelling after breast surgery?

compression-garment

In addition to wearing a compression bra, there are other things you can do to help alleviate swelling, including;

  • Applying cold compresses/ Ice packs. Especially in the first few days.
  • Elevate your upper body. Make sure your body is at a 30-degree angle when laying down(this includes when sleeping), this helps reduce fluid retention.
  • Watch what you eat. Avoid foods that are high in salt. Salty foods cause your body to retain water, which results in swelling.
  • Avoid Diuretics and stay hydrated. Diuretics can lead to dehydration and staying hydrated is important for recovery.
    • Water not only helps remove toxins from your body it also helps move oxygen and nutrients around your body, nutrients your body needs to heal.

How Long Should I Wear a Compression Bra After Breast Surgery?

  • As long as your surgeon advises.
  • This can vary from surgeon to surgeon, however, generally, compression bras should be worn for between 3 and 8 weeks.
  • This time frame also depends on the type of breast surgery you have and your body’s natural healing ability.
  • It’s important that you have this discussion with your surgeon.

What Happens if I don’t wear a Compression Garment After Breast Surgery?

  • Not wearing a compression bra/garment after surgery can compromise your results.
  • You can also compromise your results if you don’t wear it for long enough.
  • If you get implants and stop wearing your compression bra before your implant settle, you are at a higher risk of your implants moving from their intended position.
  • If you have undergone a reduction or implant removal and don’t wear your compression bra you may end up with more excess, sagging skin around your breasts.
  • Furthermore, your wound healing and the reduction of swelling will take significantly longer, which will not only result in unnecessary pain and discomfort but also in a delay in the visability of your final result.

How tight should a compression garment be after breast augmentation?

  • It should be tight enough to firmly and comfortably hold your breasts.
  • Tighter is not better. If your compression bra is too tight the blood supply to your breasts may be affected. This can affect your recovery and result in hyperpigmentation and discolouration on and around your breasts.
  • You should feel supported and comfortable. The bra should not dig in or cause bunching in any area.
  • If you are concerned that your compression garment is either too firm or too loose speak with your surgeon.

What is the Best Bra After Breast Surgery?

As mentioned above, the best compression bra for you is one that is front closing with adjustable straps, made of a breathable, antibacterial fabric that is also comfortable and supportive enough to wear all day every day to further support your healing and recovery.

Further Reading about a Garment after Breast Surgery