One area of the lingerie industry that doesn’t get talked about much is bra wear after implants. Last year in the US alone, over 300,000 people had cosmetic breast augmentation surgery. That’s not even counting reconstructions.
Breast implants come with a unique set of bra-fit issues. Not just immediately post-surgery, but once they’ve healed too. Augmented breasts don’t act like unaugmented ones.
Implant shape (round vs. teardrop) and material (saline vs. silicone) affect how the breasts will look and feel, as will their placement. But post-op, your breasts will always end up fuller, and possibly firmer. They will be much harder to mold into different shapes via a bra.
So what can you do? In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention here that I haven’t had an augmentation personally. But I have done lots of research! And here is the bra-fitting and bra-buying advice I took from it:
Wait to buy the fancy stuff.
Once your surgeon gives you the go-ahead to return to regular bras, it’s tempting to go on a lingerie shopping spree. But your implants will continue to ‘settle’ for months after medically healed. They’ll drop a little lower on your chest, which can change your overall breast shape.
Only splurge on fancy bras if you’re okay with them maybe not fitting in a few months. Otherwise, it’s best to be patient. Buy bras that are pretty, sure, but save those expensive investment purchases for later on.
Look for short or flexible underwires.
Because implants are firmer than natural breast tissue, underwires may feel less comfortable. You can counteract this by finding bras with flexible wires that are less likely to dig in. Plunge bras are a great choice too. They have shorter wires, which will fit more easily around the implant.
Get a professional fitting.
If you’ve had implants, then you know they’re sized by ‘CCs’ or cubic centimeters. A surgeon might give you an idea of what new cup size to expect, but they can’t guarantee one. So it’s a good idea to get an expert fitting. Bra fitters don’t just know how to measure your size correctly. They can also advise on brands and styles (such as which have the most flexible wires).
Prefer to measure yourself at home? Lingerie retailer HerRoom advises a unique fitting method for augmented breasts.
Stretch fabrics will likely fit better.
Unaugmented breasts are quite malleable. The right bra can change their shape rather significantly. Breasts with implants, on the other hand, stay more or less the same shape at all times. So you need a bra that can flex to match you.
That means that stretch fabrics will be your lingerie best friend! Think stretch jersey, stretch mesh, and of course, stretch lace.
But molded bras will hide your nipples.
That said, contour cups can come in handy for one thing---a smooth silhouette. One possible side effect of a breast augmentation is permanently erect nipples. Lightly molded bras can hide this. Alternatively, there are many reusable nipple covers on the market to slip inside your bra.
Try bras with horizontal seams.
A horizontal seam adds depth to a bra cup. It allows it to fit better a breast that sticks out a long way from the ribcage. Implants come in different ‘projection’ levels from moderate to extra-high. Especially if you chose one of the more projected profiles, you might find many bras are now too shallow for you.
Is the gore not lying flat against your sternum? Are the cups empty or wrinkled at the bottom, but the top fits fine or is cutting in? Then you need a deeper cup, so look for that horizontal seam.
Above all, don’t be afraid to try something different. Styles that didn’t suit you before may now fit great and look fantastic. And what harm can a little experimenting in the fitting room do?
Oh, and don’t forget to recycle or donate your old bras too. Plenty of places can do good things with them.
If you’ve had a breast augmentation, I’d love to hear what your favorite bra styles are. Let me know in the comments below.