1. Follow the Two-Week Rule
Many surgeons recommend that female patients receiving shoulder surgery wait two full weeks before wearing a traditional bra. A traditional bra is one that clasps in the back, includes two over-the-shoulder straps, and may or may not include underwire. These first two weeks are the most important for shoulder recovery, and it is common for patients to be advised to avoid exercise and strenuous activity during this time period. While it is a good idea to avoid wearing any type of bra for the two weeks after your surgery so that you can also avoid further shoulder stress, you may be able to wear a more non-traditional bra if you feel the need to.
2. Opt for a Non-Traditional Bra
Depending on the type of shoulder surgery you have received or are expecting to receive, your surgeon may allow you to wear a non-traditional bra that does not put extra strain on the shoulders. Unlike traditional bras, these bras do not use the shoulders to support the chest. Before choosing to wear any of these bras, though, you should still consult your surgeon to make sure they will not affect your recovery.
Strapless bras are those that do not include any straps, and they often rely on strips of silicone lining to keep the bra in place. They can also use sturdy underwire and molded cups that distribute the bra's support evenly along the chest. A lot of strapless bras come with removable/addable straps, too, so that you can use the bra with straps later on after your surgery recovery.
Racerback bras do include straps, but they use a T-shaped back that keeps the straps closer to the sides of the neck and less on the shoulders. Some of these bras are also convertible, so their straps can either be removed or changed to the traditional over-the-shoulder shape. However, some women may be advised to still not wear a racerback bra after certain shoulder surgeries, so it's a good idea to consult your surgeon or doctor before choosing to wear one post-op.
When you aren't sure what type of bra you'll be able to wear after your shoulder surgery, you can choose a convertible bra, which includes straps that can be converted from the traditional over-the-shoulder style to either strapless or racerback. This versatile bra can be worn after your surgery recovery, too, if you'd like to switch between styles easily. As an added tip, know that you can also wear this type of bra as an over-the-shoulder style with just one strap, removing the strap over your recovering shoulder, similar to a strapless style with a little extra support.
A lot of surgeons recommend women wear front closure bras after shoulder surgery because, although they include straps, they do not put much pressure on the shoulders compared to other bras. There are some front closure bras that include a racerback design, too, which is even better for shoulders recovering from surgery.
3. Stay Focused on Recovery
While it may feel odd to wear a different type of bra than you are used to or to not wear a bra at all for a few weeks after shoulder surgery, it's important to remember that the healing process won't take forever. It's also more important to focus on the work you may have to put into physical therapy or into changing your dressings than to be distracted by the feel of your bra. The more you allow your shoulder to recover now, the better you'll feel in the long run.