Sizing and Fitting

Heart Hugger Components

Decrease Pain, Increase Quality of Life

Heart Hugger is a simple, lightweight, and comfortable way to decrease and manage pain after thoracic surgery. It’s a simplistic system that is easy to size, fit, and put on (with the help of a nurse or loved one). Heart Hugger comes in multiple sizes and has many adjustable straps so it can be set to fit a wide variety of body types and sizes.

Sizing Before Surgery

The best practice with Heart Hugger is to measure, size, and adjust before surgery. This will be much easier on the patient and make it easy to help them slip on after surgery. First, take a few measurements to determine which size of Heart Hugger to purchase. For men, measure chest circumference at the nipple line. For women, measure above the breasts.

Heart Hugger sizing:

GT 500-Small GT 1000-Regular GT 1500-Large GT 2000-X-Large
22”-38” 36”-55” 45”-72” 50”-90”
55-96 cm 91-138 cm 114-181 cm 127-228 cm

Adjusting the Straps

When sizing the patient, have them put on the Heart Hugger and then evaluate the chest strap. Adjust it so the handles are centered around the sternum with just enough space between them that the patient can grasp both handles with one hand.

Next, fasten the retention straps above and below the handles to help secure them in place. The handles should be as close to parallel and evenly spaced on either side of the wound as possible. Also, adjust the shoulder straps so the chest belt is comfortable and not digging into the armpits. Vertically, the handles should be mid-chest on men and above the breasts for women. More details on adjustments for fitting women can be found on the how to use page.

Putting the Heart Hugger on After Surgery

To put the Heart Hugger on when the patient is out of surgery, detach the shoulder strap from the handle on one side and slide the handle under the patient’s arm. Bring the shoulder strap over the shoulder and reattach it. Next, help the patient lean forward and help adjust the chest strap so it lies flat on the patient’s back (like you’re helping them put on a backpack). Then lean them back, and attach the other shoulder strap in the same way as the first.

Important note: Make sure the patient does not try to reach back as you assist them into the Heart Hugger. This can be very painful and could injure the surgical wound. Instruct the patient to keep their elbows close to their sides.


To discuss sternal support options,