The purpose of wearing a well-fitting bra after breast implant surgery is to limit the movement of the implants in the pocket created during the procedure. In order for the implants to fit properly, the pocket needs to be a little larger than the implant, so there is some room for the implant to move.
In some situations, such as in implant revision surgery or cases where there is a lot of asymmetry of the breasts going into surgery, more of the pocket is ‘released’ in one or more directions making it possible for the implant to move more out of position. In these cases, it is more important to wear a good supportive bra the vast majority of the time for a couple of weeks to help prevent the implant moving out of the intended pocket.
An appropriate bra serves several purposes. It holds the dressing in place without the need for taping the skin which can cause blistering. It limits the motion of the implants to help keep them in the proper position within the implant pocket which helps with the final shape of the breast as well as symmetry. A bra also works as a constant reminder that you have had surgery and to keep you activity down for a few weeks, even if you are doing very well in your recovery.
We generally recommend that you wear a supportive bra most of the time at least for the first couple of weeks after surgery, including at night. Unless you have a drain in place, which is very unusual for my patients, you can generally remove your bra the day after surgery to shower and you can leave it off for an hour or two every now and then to give yourself a break. If you have drains in place, which is not uncommon when a lift is done at the same time, you should keep the bra on all of the time until the drains are removed; then take it off to shower, wash it or change it.
As we generally use an incision in the crease under the breast for insertion of implants, we like to avoid excessive pressure in that area for a while. That is why we recommend not wearing an underwire bra for at least five weeks after implant surgery. At that point, an underwire bra can be worn if it is comfortable.
One of the misconceptions of breast implant surgery is the idea that after surgery, you always have to wear a bra during the day to prevent the implants from dropping too low. In patients with normal muscle anatomy and their implants under the muscle, their breasts are somewhat ‘gravity resistant,’ just another advantage of going under the muscle. No one has ever proven that wearing a bra prevents breasts from sagging. After you have healed from surgery wearing a bra is optional.