There are many decisions to make after breast surgery. One thing you may not have considered yet is bras. Should you wear one at all? Do you need regular bras or post-mastectomy bras? Should you wear mastectomy bras with built-in forms?
At Horton’s Orthotics & Prosthetics, we can help answer these questions and provide expertise and support in the process. Here you will find some guidance to help you decide what is best for you and how to find post-mastectomy bras you love.
Mastectomy bras after reconstruction
Some women choose to have reconstructive surgery after their mastectomy. This involves surgery to rebuild the breasts, sometimes at the same time as the mastectomy, and other times after a healing period. If you went this route, you will not need mastectomy bras with built-in forms or pockets for the prosthesis. You will be able to wear more typical bras with adjustments from the ones you wore before surgery.
Bras with underwire are a popular choice for many women. However, after breast surgery, you will likely want to forgo those. The underwire will be more uncomfortable against your newly sensitive skin. Some women also lose some feeling in the areas around their chest, so if a wire were to pop free and poke their skin, they would not notice until it had done some damage. Reconstructed breasts do not require the support offered by underwire, as they are made to stay in place on their own.
You can choose to go bra-free after your reconstruction if you would like. Many women prefer to wear bras, because they can help with the new weight and temperature differences that come with reconstructive surgery. They can also help minimize any unevenness that might have come with a unilateral mastectomy or lumpectomy.
The best options tend to be bralettes with wide chest bands. While reconstruction provides more bra options from more typical stores, you will still benefit from a mastectomy bra fitting. When you find a certified mastectomy fitter, they have more experience and expertise in sizing your new body. They know exactly what to look for and where to measure, while the average store employee might not have seen your particular challenges before. Mastectomy fitters can recommend specialized bras that will fit and support you best while giving you the appearance you desire.
Prosthesis options and mastectomy bras
Women who have decided against reconstructive breast surgery may choose prosthetics, also known as breast forms. These are typically made from a soft silicone that has been molded as a natural-looking breast. Forms are also available in soft fabrics that you can wear while healing or sleeping. Most are worn inside a pocket in the cup of a mastectomy bra, and some can be adhered to the skin of the chest. You can also find mastectomy bras with built-in forms so that they are always in place, and you can put them on along with your bra.
Even more so than if you had reconstructive surgery, it is important to find a certified mastectomy fitter for your breast forms. Companies that provide this service, such as Horton’s, work with you to find the size and fit you need as well as a form that you like.
During a mastectomy bra fitting, you will meet with a specialist for a private consultation. You can expect to spend about 45 minutes to an hour with them as they find the right option and answer any questions you might have. Companies with experience know that there is no one solution and that every woman requires a unique approach.
A form customized for you and a good mastectomy bra fitting means that no one will be able to tell you’re wearing one – it should look natural under your clothes. It’s often encouraged to bring some of your favorite outfits to the mastectomy bra fitting with you so that you can make sure you like the look of the bra under them.
It is not just about looks
While deciding to wear mastectomy bras with built-in forms helps you look the way you want, which is important, there are good health reasons to consider them as well. Wearing a form provides weight where you were used to having it. With that weight suddenly gone, you will find your muscles and posture changing. It is common for women to hold one shoulder higher than the other, and the change strains on the spine.
Women are usually eager to return to their normal lives after a mastectomy. For some, that means getting back into exercise. Physical activity not only increases overall health but in some cases can also help reduce the risk of breast cancer returning. However, many women do not feel comfortable going somewhere public like a gym without their breast forms. Without a proper fit and the right bra, the forms are too heavy to work out with.
You can now find sports bras made for women that have been through mastectomies. There are even things like swimsuits that include attached mastectomy bras with built-in forms so that you can exercise just like you did before surgery.
For more information
Having a mastectomy does not mean you no longer have options where bras are concerned. Contact Horton’s Orthotics & Prosthetics today at (501) 683-8889 to find the right bra for you. Our team will organize a free consultation to help you with this next part of your journey.