QualiBra Advanced - Breast and Sternum Support

The nurse-designed QualiBra Advanced Sternum and Breast support with accessories were created with the primary goal of reducing pain and wound infections for women with larger sized breasts after open heart surgery. Its specific focus lies in keeping the sternal wound free from breast tissue to prevent heat and moisture build up thus decreasing the potential for infections and helping women to achieve faster recovery, experience less pain, and significantly decrease the likelihood of readmissions.

Read more about QualiBra Advanced below or select a topic from the index to jump to the relevant section.

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What problems could female patients face after open heart surgery?

Female patients who undergo open heart surgery may encounter a range of challenges during their recovery that could result in complications, particularly if they fall into the category often referred to as the high-risk group. Patients considered in high risk for complications are those with diabetes, kidney disease, lung disease, or peripheral arterial disease, as well as obese patients and women with larger breast sizes.

The most common complications after surgery are pain, pulmonary and sternal wound infections, which can disrupt the healing process. Statistical observations reveal that women with a Medium bra cup size have a 12.3-fold higher risk, while women with a Large bra cup size have a 38.5-fold higher risk of developing a Deep Sternal Wound Infection.

In addition, patients may endure lingering discomfort, unsettling sensations like clicking and popping of the sternum, and even sternum instability, with rare instances of non-union.

Astonishingly, a staggering 50 to 80% of these complications are detected only after patients leave the hospital's care, further highlighting the criticality of postoperative interventions. Notably, the financial burden on hospitals and healthcare providers rise significantly when treating postoperative complications.


Common issues for female patients after sternotomy procedures:

If a woman has large breasts, some of these issues can be intensified. The weight of the breast tissue can exert a gravitational pull on the incision, particularly when lying down or standing up.

Respiratory pain
• Deep breathing
• Coughing, sneezing, straining

Muscle pain
• Sore respiratory muscles
• Sore ribs, shoulders, back, and neck

Incisional pain
• Sternotomy wound
• Drainage site

Wound healing issues
• Superficial Infection
• Deep sternal infection
• Dehiscence

Psychological issues
• Feelings of weakness
• Ineffective coping

Functional limitations
• Problems with eating
• Sleeping difficulties
• Mobilization difficulties


    Why do women especially need a Sternum and Breast Support?

    Pain relief:
    There are compelling reasons to choose the QualiBra Advanced external chest and breast support for women who undergo open heart surgery, with a primary focus on relieving pain. After the procedure, women commonly face discomfort in their ribs and muscles, which worsen by the weight of their breast tissue pulling on the incision. This can lead to increased pain during essential activities such as breathing, coughing, sneezing, straining, and movement.

    To manage this pain, patients are typically prescribed opioids, powerful narcotics known for their effectiveness. However, it is crucial to acknowledge the inherent risks associated with opioids including the potential for addiction and the possibility of unused medication entering the broader community.

    Therefore, it is in everyone's best interest to minimize the reliance on opioids. QualiBra Advanced, with its comfortable support of the breasts and to sore ribs and muscles, and its CryoPouch accessory designed for cold treatment targeting incision pain, is a promising adjunctive tool in achieving this goal.

    Prevention of infections:

    The adjustable, vertical breast bands on each sides of the breast tissue helps to prevent sternal wound infections by keeping the wound dry and free from heat and moisture build-up. The bands also prevents pulling on the wound that could open the incision and increase the risk of infections.

    Any broken bone is supported from both the in- and outside until it has healed.
    A sternum, or breast bone, is no exception. It needs external support because it is vulnerable to the patient's constant chest movements when breathing, and in particular during coughing, sneezing, straining, and performing daily activities. The QualiBra Advanced horizontal chest band protects and stabilises the breast bone by giving constant support and it complements and protects the internal closure made by the surgeon.
 Furthermore it empowers patients with extra support when coughing, sneezing, straining.

    To ensure unrestricted breathing while stabilizing the sternum, it is essential to limit any external support device to the upper torso only. The lower lung lobes and upper abdominal areas should not be covered, allowing for unrestricted respiration, as well as providing the additional advantage of promoting abdominal breathing and engaging the diaphragm. This approach contributes to the prevention of post-operative pulmonary complications.

    Stabilization of the sternum furthermore provides an optimal setting for effective
    soft-tissue healing which minimizes the risk of infection in the surgical incision which could expand to the deeper layers of tissue and the sternum bone.

    Enhanced protection for high risk patients:
    Statistically women, obese patients and those with diabetes, kidney or lung diseases, or other conditions have a higher risk of developing infections or other complications. Both the pain relieving function and the preventive potential of infections which QualiBra Advanced can provide, should be considered when planning for an effective postoperative treatment for these patients.

    Decreasing the cost of sternal wound complications:

    While the average cost of open heart surgery without complications is around $20.000 (USD), the average cost of treating sternal wound complications raises the costs to around $60.000 (USD) with 18-20 additional hospital days. Just preventing 1 patient from encountering complications could pay for many months supply of QualiBra Advanced. 


    What is QualiBra Advanced?

    QualiBra Advanced, a specialized device developed by a nurse, is specifically designed to minimize the risk of sternal wound infections in women who undergo open heart surgery. It features a chest brace that serves two crucial functions, offering significant benefits to women in their recovery journey. Firstly, it provides continuous pain relief by preventing strain from breast tissue on the wound and supporting tender ribs and muscles, while also ensuring stability of the sternum. Secondly, it delivers additional chest support whenever necessary during painful moments throughout the recovery period.

    Patients can purchase from here:

     The QualiBra Advanced utilizes soft double-layered elastic cotton for its bra cups, carefully designed without external seams to enhance comfort. The breast band is constructed from lightweight, breathable, and stretchable material, ensuring a pleasant fit for individuals of all body shapes. The device is adjustable, allowing for personalized support that can be tightened to the desired level.

    Moreover, the brace band is equipped with special pockets where patients can insert their fingers to achieve further tightening. This feature proves especially beneficial in alleviating pain during activities such as coughing, sneezing, respiratory therapy, straining, or movement.

    Why is extra support during coughing and sneezing important?

    The importance of additional support during coughing and sneezing lies in the fact that these actions generate a sudden and significant increase in internal chest pressure. This heightened pressure puts immense strain on the breastbone from the inside, leading to pain and discomfort. It is crucial for patients to have a means to counteract this pressure, safeguarding their breastbone, reducing pain, and promoting a safe healing process for the wound.

    QualiBra Advanced, equipped with pockets in the brace band, precisely serves this purpose, providing the necessary support during these actions.



    Why should a standard postoperative bra not be used?

    Standard postoperative bras, similar to regular bras, often exert pressure on the breasts, pushing them towards the center of the chest and enhancing cleavage. Unfortunately, this compression can lead to increased heat and moisture around the surgical wound, thereby elevating the risk of infection and potentially prolonging the hospital stay. Additionally, most bras are closed at the back and a backward movement of the arms should be avoided until the wound has fully healed since such movement “opens” the chest and strains the breastbone. Lastly, it's important to note that standard bras lack a chest surrounding band, which plays a crucial role in protecting and stabilizing the breastbone.

    Why is lateral support (from each side) on the breast bone important?

    Any broken bone is supported from both the in- and outside until it has healed. A sternum, or breast bone, is no exception. It needs external support because it is vulnerable to the patient's chest movements when breathing, coughing, sneezing, straining, and performing daily activities.

    The QualiBra Advanced chest band protects and stabilises the breast bone by giving constant support and it complements and protects the internal closure made by the surgeon.
    It also relieves pain by reinforcing the rib muscles that may be sore after surgery, and encourages deeper breathing needed after surgery.
    Furthermore it empowers patients with extra support when coughing, sneezing, straining.

    Why is extra support during coughing and sneezing important?

    Any cough or sneeze causes a sudden, sharp rise in internal chest pressure that places strain on the breast bone. The patients need to counteract such pressure to protect and stabilise their breast bone and to secure the safe healing of the wound. Integrated, easy-to-grasp bar handles in the QualiBra Advanced help to do just that.

    QualiBra Advanced has unmatched comfort and functionality and can be used day and night, even for a long time if necessary. Chest support devices such as the QualiBreath have been documented to decrease pain and to help prevention of complications after surgery, such as wound infections and separation of the breast bone.  

    How does it work?

    QualiBra Advanced is a unique, nurse-designed breast and sternum support for patients who need heart surgery with opening of the breast bone (sternotomy).
    It reduces potential complications and advances the recovery process to get patients home and back to normal life sooner.

    QualiBra Advanced is the only dual functional breast and chest support.
    It combines two key functions:

    • constant reinforcement of the breast bone from the lateral sides with breast support
    • integrated bar handles for coughing, sneezing, and straining


    What is the normal chest wall movement during breathing?

    Restful breathing: The diaphragm does most of the work with only small movements in all 3 directions (abdominal breathing).

    Breathing during exercise and stress: The lateral and anterior-posterior movements increase (thoracic breathing)

    How does coughing or sneezing affect chest wall movement 

    Reflex-caused sequence of events:

    • Contraction of the diaphragm with inhalation of air
    • Epiglottis closure and vocal cords contraction
    • Abdominal muscles contraction forcing the diaphragm upwards
    • Significantly increased intra-thoracic pressure (up to 300mmHg)
    • Sudden release of air through the epiglottis and vocal cords

     Chest wall movements


    Constant protection and support:

    The wound and breast bone are constantly protected by the elastic, firm, ventilated and remarkably light material of the chest band. The chest band is positioned above the breasts and has a left-sided, adjustable closure. The level of tension can be adjusted to be as tight as possible, while patients still feel comfortable and can breathe freely. Patients gain comfort and a better posture, which improves your breathing and can help with clearing secretions from your lungs.

    Female heart surgery binder QualiBra Advanced

    The chest surrounding band is closed by Velcro at the left side, so your wound is undisturbed.

    Female heart surgery chest support QualiBra Advanced

    The chest band is integrated with the breast support at each side and dictates the choice of size.

    Pain control and aesthetic wound healing:

    Patients can increase the surrounding tension to help control pain when needing to cough, sneeze or strain. Insert the thumbs or fingers in the integrated pockets on the chest band and bring the hands together or over each other. The soft and comfortable bra cups are made of absorbent elasticized cotton that have vertical support bands on each side of the breasts. These bands can be adjusted to prevent the pull of gravity on the wound and to keep it free from breast tissue to avoid heat and moisture buildup. When the wound is not squeezed, healing will be more esthetically pleasing.

    Female heart surgery support band QualiBra Advanced

    Grasp the pockets by your thumbs or insert your fingers and bring them together for more chest support.

    Female heart surgery binder QualiBra Advanced

    Vertical bands prevent pulling and keep the breast bone wound free to heal neatly.

    Comfort and dignity during wound care:

    Wound inspection and care is easy and cause less pain with QualiBra Advanced, and it is not needed for patients to uncover their breasts. Just one of the bands need to be opened, either the sternum band or the under-bust band, and the health care staff has full access to the wound while the support of the breasts is maintained. Which band to open will depend on the position of your wound and your body shape. QualiBra Advanced also acts as a constant “reminder” to protect the breast bone and wound, both in the hospital and at home. The chest band pockets are always there for them to grasp when they need them.

    Female heart surgery binder QualiBra Advanced

    The sternum band can be opened for wound care while the under-bust band remains closed.

    Female heart surgery binder QualiBra Advanced open underband

    Depending on wound position or body shape it could be more convenient to open the under-bust band with the sternum band closed.

    When is it used?

    QualiBra Advanced is recommended to be used after all open heart surgeries or other interventions in the chest area that require a sternotomy. It is highly recommended for women in the the high risk group.
    Patients that are considered to be in the high risk group for developing postoperative complications can be identified with the following risk factors and are recommended to wear QualiBra Advanced immediately after surgery continuously for at least 6 to 8 weeks.

    Risk factors:

    • Obesity
    • Diabetes
    • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Macromastia (large breast size)
    • Current smokers
    • Chronic cough
    • Osteoporosis
    • Preoperative renal failure
    • Previous myocardial infarction
    • Use of bi-lateral mammary arteries for CABG

      Increased risk factors in the postoperative period:
    • Atelectasis caused by anesthesia
    • Diaphragmatic dysfunction
    • Pain
    • Immobility
    • Ineffective cough Neurological injury
    • IMA dissection
    • Inflammatory response to CPB Low core temperature

    Risk factors for postoperative persistent pain are linked to psychosocial elements such as anxiety, depression, catastrophizing, illness perception, poor coping strategy, low sense of control, poor social support and expectations.

    How is it used?

    How to measure for the best size:

    10 reasons to use QualiBra Advanced after open heart surgery: 

    1. Dual-functional external chest and breast support
    Constant lateral support on the sternum and patient-activated reinforcement handles during coughing, sneezing, pain. Includes adjustable breast support.

    2. Documented positive effect on patient’s entire recovery process
    Improves sternal stability, pain relief, ease of breathing, comfort, patient function, ease of activities and exercise.

    3. Decreases deep sternal wound infections
    Documented effect of a firm, constant external support on the chest and sternum.

    4. Keeps the lower lung lobes and the upper abdominal area free
    Secures unrestricted deep respiration and increased comfort.

    5. Supports the respiratory muscles and relieves pain
    The firm, elastic material encourages deep breathing and coughing to clear the lungs of atelectasis and secretions.

    6. Compliments the internal closure from the outside
    Increases the potential for an optimal sternal alignment.

    7. Unmatched comfort
    Adjustable tension with the ability to loosen or tighten to near rigid state which increases compliance with usage in the hospital and at home.

    8. Important adjunctive recovery treatment
    Constant “reminder” to the patient that encourages mobilization and exercise of the upper limbs which increases blood supply and stimulates healing of the fractured sternum.

    9. Important psychological aid to put the patient in control of his own recovery
    Helps the patient to handle responsibility for sternum protection and wound care after discharge.

    10. Decreases health care costs and gives a hospital significant return of investment
    Prevents sternal infections, decreases postoperative pain and pulmonary complications.

    Patients can purchase from here:


    QualiBra Advanced can be used with the following accessories: 

    CryoPouch: A practical tool to provide pain relief without narcotics. Fits directly on the QualiBra Advanced sternum and breast support. The CryoPouch has two pockets for cold packs and is designed to provide cold treatment to relieve incision pain and discomfort after sternotomy and other surgeries in the chest. Apply the cold packs for 20 min. and repeat every 2 hours or as recommended by a health care professional.



    AxillaPads: The AxillaPads are soft, comfortable cotton pads which adds comfort under the armpits and will help women to protect the product from excessive underarm sweating. Simple to attach and fold over the upper border of the binder.

    QualiPad: A postoperative wound protection pad to use in the car after cardiac surgery. It protects the wound or trauma area from the seat belt in the car after hospital discharge. It's easy to apply to the seat belt and patients can leave it on - no need to remember to bring it. Made of a comfortable, soft material it maintains the safety of the seat belt with the softness of a pillow.

    Female patients with breast size below cup D and therefore don't necessarily need QualiBra Advanced can also use QualiBreath. For additional comfort and privacy, the breast cover accessory can be added simply by attaching its upper corner velcro pieces to the inside of QualiBreath and by closing the elastic band around the chest. The breast cover is not a bra but will cover any breast tissue appearing below the QualiBreath.