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Cellulitis from tight bra?

lastar Member Posts: 551

Hi, All —

I'm 11 years out from diagnosis and Lx/Mx. I have had issues with LE off and on since, but not much in the last 4 years or so. I wore a more substantial bra on Sunday. I usually only wear it for a few hours and then take it off, but I wore it all day. When I took it off on Sunday night, my cancer-side reconstructed breast was very red and warm. There was also splotchy redness on the bottom center part of my right reconstructed breast. I have had cellulitis once before and keep antibiotics on-hand in case it came up again on a weekend or during travel, so I started those right away. Today the redness is a little better, so I'm feeling relieved. How does this happen? I've had no obvious lymphedema for years (ever since an amazingly uncomfortable but very effective lymphatic drainage massage by a LMT), and there is no broken skin for bacteria to enter. Thanks for any thoughts.

Best ~ Leigh Ann



  • maggie15
    maggie15 Member Posts: 1,007

    Hi Leigh Ann, I have to wear a loose bra (no support, more of a modesty cover) because of my LE breast. Compression makes it worse contrary to theory. It seems to stop the limited lymph fluid flow and cause more swelling. The heavy duty bra might have had this effect. Even if there is no evident broken skin bacteria can get in through a microscopic opening. I'm glad the antibiotics are working.

  • lastar
    lastar Member Posts: 551

    Thanks, @maggie15 ! I will start bra shopping for something less restrictive. I was enjoying wearing something with a little more support for a change, but I knew better. My flap-reconstruction breasts are much larger than the B/C cup that I was asking for. Plastic surgeons only seem to know BIG.

  • rrs
    rrs Member Posts: 22

    Could it be that the bra was rubbing and created a tiny bit of skin irritation and then maybe you touched the area? It is amazing to me how easily we can get these infections. I'm just getting over a bad bout that started in my arm pit/shoulder with no redness just extreme pain. Then in a few hours I had a hot rash down my arm. It is such a frightening experience. I've had this three times now and I want to figure out how to try and avoid in the future. Is there a thread on this somewhere? I'm having trouble dealing with the new layout of this site. Looking for discussion on skincare, gardening precautions, bath vs shower… I love relaxing in the bath but think it could be a place for bacteria to enter a small place in my skin. Thanks for any info.

  • ratherbesailing
    ratherbesailing Member Posts: 127

    Leigh Ann, are you wearing a designated lymphedema bra, or just a supportive regular bra?

    I call my Belisse lymphedema garment the "iron bra" because it is so heavy, but it has kept the lymphedema at bay. It is really comfortable, I think, because it distributes the compression evenly. And my breasts are now different sizes, but it substantial enough to even them out. I also have another that is lighter and quite comfortable so, yes, trying different ones is always a good ide.

    If you don't have a lymphedema bra, you could ask a provider to write a prescription. Medicare now covers them, as do most private insurers. But it is really best - more so than with "regular " bras - to be properly fitted for one, if you can find a local supplier. And best to be fitted every few years, to make sure sizing is still correct as our bodies change.

    Hope you find a solution!