A special bra has been designed by specialist nurses at Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust to help improve wound healing in women recovering from cardiac surgery.
It is made in a wider range of sizes as a solution for patients who experience trouble with their wounds healing and required more comfort after their surgery.
“A well-fitting bra will promote good wound healing and reduce the risk of damage”
Melissa Rochon, a clinical nurse specialist in surveillance, worked with colleagues and the medical manufacturer CUI on the creation of the bra.
The proportion of female suffering surgical site infection was reduced significantly during a trial period for the innovation, said the trust.
It highlighted that research had shown that women were more likely to have surgical site infections after cardiac surgery than men.
This was because pressure could be put on the chest incision causing the wound to gape, if their chest area was not properly supported.
Poor-fitting bras can also lead to pressure sores and wound breakdown that can cause infections, noted the trust.
Ms Rochon said: “We know that a well-fitting bra will promote good wound healing and reduce the risk of damage to the new incision and underband area for the weeks following surgery.
Nurses design bra to aid recovery from heart surgery
“Existing post-surgery bras with removal straps were only available up to a D cup,” she said. “Fluid weight gain is typically associated with heart surgery and around 50% of women need this size or bigger after their operation.
“Unfortunately this means that women often go without a bra after surgery or wear an unsuitable or badly fitting one, leading to discomfort and increased risk of pressure ulcers,” said Ms Rochon.
The resulting postoperative bra has a unique combination of features, including side support to reduce medial-lateral tension on the wound and adjustable fastenings to allow room for different sized wound dressings and fluid gain after surgery.
“We are now using the new bras at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals and teams from other hospitals are already keen to offer them to their own patients,” added Ms Rochon.
“CUI also offers full training to theatre and ward staff to ensure they know which size bra to use and how to fit them for the best outcomes for patients,” she said.