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Can I wear a bra after rotator cuff surgery?

Wearing a bra after rotator cuff surgery is possible, but needs to be done carefully. The type of bra, how it fits, and when you start wearing it again are all important considerations after rotator cuff surgery. Let’s take a closer look at the factors to consider when wearing a bra after this procedure.

When Can I Start Wearing a Bra After Surgery?

Most surgeons recommend waiting 1-2 weeks after surgery before wearing any type of bra. This allows enough time for initial healing and protects the surgical site from any pressure or irritation from the bra.

During the first 1-2 weeks, many patients find it more comfortable to wear loose, front-close shirts, camisoles, or crop tops that provide some support but put minimal pressure on the shoulders. After the first couple of weeks, you can try wearing a bra as long as it is comfortable.

What Type of Bra is Best After Rotator Cuff Surgery?

The best bras to wear after rotator cuff surgery are wireless, soft, and provide light support:

  • Wireless/Non Underwire Bras – Underwire bras can dig into the skin and put unwanted pressure on the shoulders during initial healing.
  • Soft, Stretchy Fabrics – Cotton, modal, or spandex blends are gentler on the skin.
  • Sports Bras/Light Support Bras – Look for bras that have wide shoulder straps and light compression rather than heavy, tight support.
  • Front Closure Bras – Avoid having to lift the operated arm up and over the head to take a bra on and off.
  • Seamless Designs – Bras without seams will help prevent irritation or rubbing on the incisions.

Avoid underwire, strapless, and push-up style bras during recovery as these put more strain on the shoulders.

How Should a Bra Fit After Surgery?

Make sure any bra you select after surgery fits properly and is comfortable on your shoulders:

  • The band should fit snugly without digging in or pinching.
  • Cups should fully encase the breasts without spillage.
  • Shoulder straps should not dig in; use bra strap pads if needed.
  • Avoid tight clasps or bands that add pressure.
  • The bra should not rub or irritate incision sites.

You may need to go up a band size or cup size if your regular bras are too tight. Having the right fit will help prevent pain and discomfort around the shoulders. Avoid bras that are overly tight or restrictive.

How Long Should I Wear the Bra Each Day?

When you first start wearing a bra again, limit the time you wear it to just a few hours a day. Try wearing your bra for just 2-4 hours at a time when up and around the house.

Gradually increase the time as comfort allows. It’s also important to let the skin breathe by going bra-free for parts of the day. Many women find that wearing a bra for 8-10 hours daily is reasonable by 6 weeks after surgery as long as it remains comfortable.

Always listen to your body and immediately remove the bra if you experience pinching, irritation, or increased shoulder pain when wearing it.

Other Bra Tips After Rotator Cuff Surgery

  • When putting on your bra, slip your operated arm in first, then lean forward and bring the second strap up over your shoulder. This avoids straining the surgical site.
  • Use your hand to lift the breast tissue up into the bra cup rather than pulling up the bra itself.
  • Use a bra extender to add extra closure rows if your bra feels too tight.
  • Apply an ice pack or cooling pad over the shoulder and bra straps to reduce pain and swelling if needed.
  • Ask your physician when it is safe to resume underwire bra use and for guidance on when you can transition back to regular bras after healing.


Wearing a comfortable, wireless bra can typically be resumed 1-2 weeks after a rotator cuff repair as long as it does not cause pain or pressure on the shoulder. Choose soft, gently supportive bras that avoid the repaired area. Work up to wearing a bra for longer periods gradually. With your surgeon’s guidance and listening to your body’s signals, you can safely transition back to your regular bras after healing is complete.