WHAT IS A MASTECTOMY BRA?
Mastectomy bras are made from soft, breathable fabric, such as moisture-wicking microfibre for comfort. They feature pockets for prostheses or breast forms. Some are designed to cover irregularities at the underarm; others are higher at the top to cover upper chest scars.
Before you have a mastectomy or lumpectomy, take the opportunity to find out your correct bra size. This will make bra selection and fitting much easier after your operation. Depending on the procedure you’re having, start looking out for either post surgery bras or soft bras that you will find comfortable afterwards. Cotton and microfibre options are the best. If you have a larger bust, look out for the full cup shapes as these will give added comfort and support.
If you have reconstructive surgery at the time of your operation, you may need a compression fit post-surgery bra. This will help to aid healing and reduce swelling. In the initial weeks after surgery some women use a beanbag or soft foam breast form until their actual breast-form or prosthesis is made available.
You may want to try a new soft bra, focusing on any areas of irritation, especially where you may have scar tissue.
FITTING YOUR MASTECTOMY BRA
As well as bras designed specifically for post-mastectomy, a soft cup bra with high sides, a high centre gore and a stretchy upper cup can also take a prosthesis. When you have selected your new bra and have fitted your breast-forms, make sure that you 'test' the garment by moving around, stretch up and bend down, to ensure that your bra stays firm and your breast form stays in place.
If you have had a single mastectomy it is best to fit the bra to your other breast and then fit to your breast form or prosthesis. By doing this it will be clear if you need to make any adjustments to your prosthesis. If you have a fuller bust, you may like the security of a bra with a pocket to hold your breast form. If you have a smaller cup size, you may prefer a deeper front with a stretchy top cup.
If you have had a double mastectomy, fit your bra to your rib cage measurement and then add both your prostheses and adjust the bra as required.
If you've had reconstructive surgery, fit your bra to your reconstructed side first. You may be able to eventually wear the same styles of bras that you did before your surgery, but be sure that your fit is correct. Initially, you may want a more 'practical' bra. Look for deep centre fronts and sides, as well as soft fabrics and larger straps, until your shape has softened and settled.
If you have had a partial mastectomy or lumpectomy, it is likely that you can return to a similar style of lingerie to your pre-op lingerie. You may like to look out for garments that are less likely to be scratchy or rub the areas of scar tissue. There are many types of fillers and shapers availabl that you can pad out and protect your scar with.