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Finding the right compression bra after a mastectomy or lumpectomy… the first time!

Some of the most common statements I get from breast oncology patients are:

"The doctor said to get a compression bra but I have gone to so many stores and can't find a good compression that's comfortable!"


"I am so tired of shopping for bras after my surgery, I don't even know what size I am?!"

Well stay a little while and read this real quick girlfriend because I'm about to save to you a lot of time and money!

Studies show wearing compression the first 4 weeks following a surgery, will reduce the risk of lymphedema. Which is why following your mastectomy or lumpectomy the surgeon should be putting you in some sort of compression bra. More times than I can count, I have heard the bras given at the hospital end up not being comfortable and patients often do not end up wearing them as directed. OR they may have missed the piece of information for how long to wear the compression. OR the physician may have recommended the patient to just wear a sports bra (eek!).

Now if you met with your therapist who's a Certified Lymphedema Therapist BEFORE your surgery, they should be recommending the best compression bra (and there are some good options out there) for you to wear immediately after surgery. Boom - stress is gone and the endless search for the right bra doesn't even begin!

But this isn't always the case, unfortunately. So if you are unable to see your therapist prior to surgery definitely advocate for yourself at your two-week post-surgery follow up to meet with a lymphedema therapist ASAP.

So what bras do I recommend... well there are a few depending on what your body needs. My top three compression bras I recommend are as follows:

1. Prairie Wear (My #1 go to - check out the three different kinds on my website here!)

Some key points a CLT looks for in a compression bra post-surgery?

  • It has the perfect fit under the axilla area, an essential feature especially if you have lymph nodes removed. If should come up high enough for compression to aid in preventing seromas, but also doesn't rub under your armpit.

  • Straps do not dig into your shoulders.


  • 360 compression - I try to make sure there are as little seams present as possible.

  • Pockets - Two big reasons: prosthetics and swell spots. Some patients end up needed swell spots (an item to help manage fibrosis/scar tissue) and a bra that already has pockets at minimum in the breast area is ideal. If they have pockets in them then the swell spot can be placed in the bra to prevent it from moving around while also protecting your skin.

  • Soft fabric - great for when you have to wear the item 23/24 hours a day.

Now you might be wondering...

Do I have to wear this forever?

Well, it depends on the person and how they are healing to determine if this is a forever bra. But for the first month to six weeks following breast surgery, yes you need to wear a compression bra. After that check with your CLT to see what the next steps would be for compression bras.

Is it worth the investment?

Reducing your risk of Lymphedema, healing faster and promoting great skin - Absolutely! Not to mention it is very likely your insurance will help cover the cost of your compression bra. You can also look into using money from your HSA. A new law, The Lymphedema Treatment Act was passed end of 2022 and by next year (2024) all compression will need to be covered by Medicare- so stay tuned for those updates!

So RUN, do not walk!

Ask to see your CLT today to get measured and fitted for the just right bra for you!! They will help determine the proper bra the FIRST time and save you from spending too much time and energy looking for 'the one'.

Need a CLT? Here are some websites to help you find your therapist!

*Though I am a Certified Lymphedema Therapist, I may not be your therapist. As always check with your therapist and oncology team to determine the best product for you and your care. This is just to provide general information and not medical advice.

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