How to choose the best post-breast surgery sports bra
We speak to Rhoda Fletcher from breast care industry leaders Amoena, who provide essential advice on how to choose the right post-breast surgery sports bra. Plus, our pick of the best bras on the market
What should you look for in a post-breast op sports bra?
The key features women should look for when choosing a mastectomy sports bra are:
- Soft fabrics and comfortable, but supportive seams.
- Wider straps to support the weight of a breast form and to relieve strain on the shoulders.
- A wide underband for support and stability.
- Pockets to a hold a breast form or shaper in place.
- Deep front and side panels.
Other considerations might be a front-fastening style (if arm mobility is an issue), temperature-balancing fabrics (for example Coolmax) and adjustable straps.
We would also recommend a lightweight breast form with temperature-equalising technology for sports, as these reduce perspiration by equalising the temperature behind the breast form.
How long should you wait post-op before resuming exercise?
Breast Cancer Now have a couple of great articles about exercise after breast cancer, which will provide more detailed information on this and other key considerations for woman exercising post-op:
Why is a compression bra better than a sports bra after breast surgery?
Although sports bras are great for exercising, they’re not really the best option for women to wear immediately after surgery. Compression bras are designed to help reduce post-operative bleeding and swelling, and to support tender skin. A compression bra also ensures the right level of immobilisation and stabilisation of the operated breast tissue, keeping it in place to better support the healing process.
The four main differences between a sports bra and a compression bra are:
Support where it’s needed
- A sports bra rarely has a deep enough underband to provide the support needed after surgery, nor does it allow for any post-operative swelling, which means it could restrict lymphatic drainage.
- 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
- Sports bras are rarely seamless and these seams can rub on newly operated skin.
- 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 to support the healing process
- There is 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.
- Compression bras offer the right amount of stability and support as well as ensuring optimal lymphatic drainage.
Ease of access
- Many sports bras close at the back and some are designed to be put on over the head. After surgery women may have limited mobility and find it painful to reach their arms above their head or behind their back.
- Compression bras fasten at the front, which makes dressing easier and allows better access to the surgery site.
What are the key differences between post-surgery bras and mastectomy bras?
Generally, post-surgery bras refer to the specialised styles that women wear immediately following their surgery, whereas a mastectomy bra refers to any type of bra that has a pocket or pockets to hold a breast form or breast shaper in place.
For example, we recommend that women wear a post-surgery compression bra for the first 4-8 weeks immediately after surgery to help support the healing process. Once a compression bra is no longer needed, a post-surgical comfort bra can be worn for a few months while skin is still sensitive. After this period, a woman may choose to wear a regular bra, without pockets, or a mastectomy style with pockets for extra security.
However, that said, the terms ‘post-surgery bra’ and ‘mastectomy bra’ are often used to describe all of the above!
Are there many brands that produce post-surgery sports bras?
As far as I’m aware, all the major post-surgery brands supply sports bras as part of their range.
Which post-surgery sports bras would you recommend?
I’ve recommended two bras from our range plus a breast form, as these can be as important as choosing the right bra for sport. [The remaining three bras in this list were chosen by 220.]
- Racer back sports bra with locking front zipper for easy closure.
- Higher coverage at the sides and back.
- Wider underband.
- Wider straps.
- Soft microfibre pockets to hold a breast form or shaper in place.
- Seamless, moulded cups.
- Wider, padded straps.
- Breathable Coolmax pockets to hold a breast form or shaper in place.
- Three-dimensional pearl surface on the back of the breast form allows air to flow freely behind the form, increasing air ventilation and moisture evaporation.
- InTouch light silicone.
- Energy forms have 30% more Comfort+ temperature-equalising material.Comfort+ reduces perspiration behind the form for ultimate comfort, all day, every day.
Macom Signature Post Surgery Bra
- Seamless design means no rubbing or snagging.
- Medical-grade compression for optimal recovery.
- Improve blood circulation.
- The compression around the back will help to minimise swelling.
- The deep back offers superior support and is ideal for use as a post-surgery sports bra.
Anita Extreme Control Mastectomy Sports Bra
- Maximum support and excellent comfort, designed for women after a mastectomy.
- The materials used in the extreme control prosthesis sports bra are super soft and finished in such a way as to prevent any kind of friction or skin irritation.
- The prosthesis pockets are made of a hydrophilic terry, which wicks away sweat from the body for an extra comfortable feeling on the skin.
- The padded straps offer a secure hold and comfort for the wearer.
Royce Impact Free Flex Fit Sports Bra
- Designed specifically for women with a smaller frame, the adjustable racerback offers excellent comfort and support during exercise.
- The removable foam pads in the cups offer great shape but can easily be removed, leaving a pocket to hold a prosthesis if required.
- Racerback styles are great for smaller bust sizes as they anchor the bra closer to the body for support. The Flex Fit’s adjustable racerback will give you all the support but with added comfort.