Misfortune sometimes spurs innovation. One example for women who have breast reconstruction after mastectomy is an improved surgical bra that is practical and comfortable, thanks to one woman’s personal post-op experience and the desire to make the recovery process easier for all women who have breast reconstruction.
While wearing a surgery bra as she recovered from a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction, radiation oncologist Dr. Elizabeth Chabner Thompson considered how outdated compression garments could be improved upon.
Realizing that the design of surgical bras had remained unchanged since the 1970s, Thompson surveyed plastic surgeons and patients to confirm what was needed: surgical bras that not only provided adequate compression, but were also more comfortable and definitely more attractive at a time when women need to heal and feel good about themselves. Thompson then set out to develop a product that would satisfy these goals.
Wearing some type of compression garment to promote healing is recommended after most major breast surgeries: augmentation, breast lift, breast reduction, and breast reconstruction. Surgical bras promote healing by exerting constant mild pressure on the new breast; this reduces post-operative swelling and bruising, and supports the desired position of the reconstructed breast. Surgical bras are important after any type of breast reconstruction. They gently hold breasts created with autologous tissue flaps in place, and they are particularly helpful for women who have reconstruction with breast implants, because a surgical bra stabilizes the implant in position from the side and bottom while the pocket heals.
After breast reconstruction, a surgical bra is worn 24/7 (except while showering) for several weeks until the plastic surgeon determines that you have healed sufficiently to progress to a normal bra (or none at all if you prefer).
The result of Dr. Thompson’s efforts is the Elizabeth Pink Surgical Bra™, designed with both the surgeon and patient in mind. The pink, front-closing bra features:
- appropriate support compression.
- a Velcro front closure.
- durable, soft fabric that is kind to sensitive skin.
- adjustable padded shoulder straps for a comfortable fit.
- side openings and small rings that hold annoying-but-necessary surgical drains in place against the body.
- comfort without chafing.
Based on the instructions of individual plastic surgeons, many hospitals provide a specific type of surgery bra; some surgeons instruct patients to purchase their own garment and bring it to the hospital on the day of surgery. Numerous hospitals now provide the Elizabeth Pink Surgical Bra to their breast reconstruction patients. The bra is also available from Amazon and other online retailers, including Dr. Thompson’s own company, BFFL, which develops products that help patients to recover from surgery and other medical treatments in comfort and with dignity.
Always follow your plastic surgeon’s instructions regarding use of surgical bras, how long you should wear them, and other recommendations for your recovery.