Best Bras For After Shoulder Surgery

 three doctors operate on a sedated person lying on an operating table

Having shoulder surgery is an ordeal, between the pre-op appointments with your surgeon and the day-of nerves. But sometimes, the post-op is the hardest part of the whole experience. You may be in pain and have limited mobility as you heal.

Being prepared both mentally and physically can help limit your pain and improve your recovery time. Knowing what bras to wear after shoulder surgery ahead of time also means you won’t have to head to a superstore or wait for online shipping to bring you a bra that will let you recover in comfort..

Now I’m not a medical professional, so I can’t give you medical guidance. But I am a (self-proclaimed) bra expert, so that’s why I’ve created this guide for the best bras for after shoulder surgery! So read on—We’ll cover whether you should go for hemp vs cotton bras, a bralette vs bra, or underwire vs no underwire? We’ll even discuss whether going braless is a good idea!


a shoulder lit up against a dark background wearing a white cotton tank top

Bras aren’t called “over the shoulder boulder holders” for nothing. Unless you’re wearing a strapless bra, your shoulders carry some of the weight of your gorgeous tatas. And when you’re freshly post-op, that weight can feel like a million pounds. Plus, putting too much strain on your shoulders may hurt your recovery time.

In fact, many surgeons recommend bringing a loosely-fitted, front-clasping bra to the hospital with you to wear home. And it’s important that the straps of your bras for after shoulder surgery don’t rub against any stitches or wounds. That can cause not only pain, but also may prevent proper healing.

Also, you may have to wear a sling, which makes it difficult to know how to take off a bra without discomfort. So you’ll also need a bra that’s easy to take on and off: that’s absolutely key!


smiling woman holding up two peace signs wearing a rust-colored racerback bralette

There are a lot of factors to consider when looking for the best bras after shoulder surgery. And while some may be obvious (like comfort), you may not even realize the important factors until it’s too late. So let’s go over everything that makes for the best bras for after shoulder surgery!


How should a bra fit post-op is very different from how it should fit on normal days. You want a looser fit to take the load off of your shoulders. Plus, when you’re dealing with post-op discomfort, the last thing you want to feel is a tight band pinching into your rib cage. So, find your bra sister sizes and go up a band size or two.

You’ll also want to loosen your straps as much as you can. That way, they won’t pull on your recovering shoulder as you move around. And you should avoid tight straps that may rub against your incision to prevent re-opening or agitating the wound. Having the perkiest-looking boobs just isn’t as important as your comfort and healing!


 multiple rolls of white fabric on top of eachother

Try to find bras made from sustainable fabrics like organic cotton. Hemp fabric is the most ideal because it’s:

  • Super breathable, which means you won’t have to deal with boob sweat on top of your post-op pain
  • Extremely soft because the area around the incision will likely be very sensitive, especially to rough fabrics

  • Antibacterial, which may prevent infections on your incision

That’s why hemp bras are the ideal bras to wear after shoulder surgery!


After shoulder surgery, you’re most likely going to have limited mobility in your arm. It may be difficult to put on clothing, do everyday household tasks, or even brush your teeth. So your bra should be easy to put on and take off with one arm. Sizing up will assist with this, but you can also get front closure bras or bras that you slip on and off instead of having to clasp. Or if you have a loved one living with you, you can always ask for their help!


Most surgeons recommend avoiding traditional bras for about two weeks after shoulder surgery. So the style of bra you choose after surgery is super important. Like are bralettes bad for you after shoulder surgery? Does a strapless bra make sense after shoulder surgery? It can be super confusing, so I’ve listed out some pros and cons for bra styles that may work after shoulder surgery. These are some great options to consider. But ultimately, you may have to test a few out until you find what feels right to you! Always listen to your body!

 smiling woman in a black bralette and high waisted underwear combo with hands on hips in front of a bookshelf and dog


  • Good support with a lot of comfort

  • cross body back relieves the pressure from your shoulder

  • Shape of the back will also avoid most incisions


  • May be difficult to put on over your head unless you size up

woman’s chest wearing a nude color triangle bralette with her wavy brown hair coming down over one shoulder


  • Convertible straps mean you can take the load off of your recovering shoulder

  • Easy to adjust both the band and strap size, so you can find a comfortable fit

  • Super soft cups and straps for extra comfort


  • The back claps may be difficult to reach. However, you could also ask for help from someone, clasp it in the front and then shift it around you, or keep it clasped and pull it over your head.


 a blonde woman’s torso wearing a black strapless bra


  • No load on your shoulders


  • Difficult to put on or take off

  • You may have trouble pulling it back up if (or let’s be real: when) it starts to slide down



  • Easy to put on or take off


  • Difficult to find front-clasp styles without underwire or thick straps

  • Not the most comfortable or breathable option


 five camisoles lying on top on each other in a gray gradient


  • Low pressure on your shoulders


  • Not as supportive, especially for my big bust beauties

  • Lacks coverage

  • Not very breathable, so may feel too hot if you wear it underneath another top



  • No pressure at all on your shoulders
  • Very breathable


  • No support or coverage
  • Lots of underboob sweat


woman laying on her side in a green bralette and robe holding her glasses up by her face

Now that you’ve chosen the best bras after shoulder surgery for you and your lifestyle, let’s talk through a few more tips for a comfortable and healing recovery!

  1. Ask for (and accept) help! I get it, you’re a tough little soldier. But guess what? You’re also somebody recovering from an operation! So don’t feel shy about asking for what you need. And definitely don’t turn down help from loved ones who just want to support you in your time of need.

  2. Change your sleep set-up. Many people find it difficult to sleep comfortably in their bed as normal after a shoulder surgery. You may find a recliner more comfortable for sleeping . If you don’t have a recliner, try sleeping upright in bed, propped against pillows. Just make sure to stack a pillow or two under your elbow to avoid stretching your shoulder, as well.

  3. Listen to your doctor. It’s frustrating to feel limited in what you can do. And when you’re used to living a super active or independent life, you may feel tempted to disregard your doctor's advice and push yourself. But your body just went through a lot, so give it some time! Your recovery will go so much smoother if you wear the sling for as long as your surgeon recommends, do all of your physical therapy exercises, and take it easy on your body. And a smooth recovery is a fast recovery!


 laughing woman bent over in a matching black bra and panty set holding the wrapped up white towel on her head

The best bra after shoulder surgery is whatever is the most comfortable for you! Start with breathable materials like hemp, a loose fit, and a style that avoids your incision site and doesn’t put weight on your recovering shoulder and you’ll be set! And don’t forget to take care of yourself!

When I had an appendectomy, I found chocolate milk was the ultimate pain reliever. And yes, I was 24 when I had my appendix taken out, why do you ask?? Do you have any more tips for post-op comfort? Let me know in the comments below!

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