Choosing the Right Bra After Breast Cancer Surgery

Breast cancer surgery, and sometimes radiotherapy, can result in heightened sensitivity in the chest area. While wearing a bra can provide comfort, it's not always necessary. Your surgeon or breast care nurse will guide you on the appropriate bra choice based on your specific surgery. You don't have to wear a specific post-surgery or mastectomy bra unless it's recommended.

If you don't receive any bra guidance after surgery, it's advisable to consult with your surgeon or breast care nurse for recommendations.

During the initial weeks following surgery, most women opt for a soft, wire-free bra that doesn't constrict. A front-fastening bra may be more convenient, especially if your shoulder is initially stiff. Additionally, there are exercises in our "Exercises after breast cancer surgery" leaflet that can help alleviate stiffness.

Men who undergo breast cancer surgery will receive advice from their medical team on how to enhance the comfort of the treated area.


Wearing a bra shortly after breast reconstruction

If you've undergone breast reconstruction, your doctor may recommend wearing a bra both during the day and at night immediately after the surgery.

A common concern for women after breast reconstruction is finding bras that are comfortable and fit well. The type of bra you should wear will be suggested by your surgeon based on the specific type of reconstruction you've had.


Choosing a bra while you are healing

In the first year following your surgery, your shape and size may undergo changes due to weight fluctuations and the effects of treatment. Consequently, the type of bra you require might also change during this period.


While your body recovers from surgery, your nerves heal, and any skin alterations caused by radiotherapy settle down, you may prefer a bra that features the following characteristics:

  • Soft seams
  • A wide underband that encircles the area under the cups and around your back
  • Deep front and side panels
  • Full cups
  • Proper cup separation (ensuring the center of the bra between the cups lays flat on your chest)
  • Fully adjustable straps
  • A simple design, as detailed elements like lace may be less comfortable

No underwires (these can be uncomfortable while the area is healing, but they can be worn once it's fully healed)

Initially after breast surgery, you may experience some swelling. In such cases, consider selecting a bra that is one chest size larger. For instance, if you typically wear a 34B, opt for a 36B.


If possible, opt for bras with a higher cotton content. Mamaway Seamless Bra are gentler on the skin during the healing process and can help manage hot flushes more effectively. 


Shoulder cushion straps can enhance comfort and help keep the bra securely in place. You can purchase these from lingerie stores or online.


Once the skin in the chest area has fully healed and stabilized, which may take up to a year, you can choose any bra that suits your preferences. However, if you plan to use a prosthesis (an artificial breast form), it's essential that your bra fits well and offers ample support for the prosthesis.

When can I go braless after a breast surgery?

Once you have fully healed and recovered from breast augmentation surgery, which can take 6 – 8 weeks or longer, it is acceptable to go without a bra from time to time. However, many patients find that wearing a bra is actually more comfortable and provides additional support for the newly added weight of their implants. Furthermore, wearing a bra – particularly when exercising or engaging in high-impact physical activities – helps to support the implants and may prevent or delay sagging, drooping, stretched-out skin, and other unwanted changes to your breasts over time. With a highly experienced plastic surgeon, proper breast augmentation aftercare, and supportive undergarments, your perky new look can last for years or even decades to come.