Recovering from a mastectomy can be distressing both in an emotional and a physical sense. Apprehension and fear surrounding the changes to your body can weigh heavily on the mind.
While surgical drains and the temporary restriction of movement after breast surgery can make dressing more difficult. But speaking with your surgeon before your procedure, about what type of post-mastectomy bra will be best for you, can make your recovery much more comfortable.
Read on, for more understanding about why post-mastectomy bras work and how to find the right one.
What Is The Best Bra After A Mastectomy?
For some women, a mastectomy includes breast reconstruction at the same, while others choose to use breast prostheses. Whichever you choose, a mastectomy bra is the best option to provide support, comfort, and confidence while you heal.
Thoughtfully designed with soft inner linings that won’t rub or aggravate sensitive surgical incisions, mastectomy bras also include pockets for lightweight breast prostheses, as well as a place to hold the surgical drains that you will have for a few weeks after your procedure.
Types of Mastectomy Bras & How They Work
There are a few different options available when it comes to mastectomy bras and it’s always best to consult with your surgeon before your procedure to understand which type is best for you. Your surgeon’s recommendations will depend on whether you will undergo a single or double mastectomy, as well as whether you are opting for breast reconstruction or a breast prosthesis.
In general, mastectomy bras omit underwires for increased comfort and include the feature of extra-wide straps for added support, as well as a breathable material to minimize sweating. Compression bras are sometimes recommended for a few weeks after surgery.
And surgeons often suggest specially designed mastectomy camisoles, t-shirts, or pajamas for patients who might not yet feel comfortable wearing a mastectomy bra.
Recovering from a recent surgery? Try our new ultra comfortable Mastectomy Pillow.
Post-Mastectomy Compression Bras
Depending on the type of mastectomy, surgeons sometimes suggest that breast surgery patients wear a compression bra immediately after surgery. Compression bras (similar to a good sports bra) will help to reduce any build-up of fluid or swelling after surgery, in addition to holding surgical incisions in place to prevent any pulling on the stitches.
Compression bras are usually worn for anywhere between ten days and a few weeks after surgery. And although they can feel tight, this type of initial support after surgery can ensure a good start to the healing process.
Mastectomy Camisoles & Vests
For breast surgery patients who are not yet feeling ready to wear a mastectomy bra, post-surgical camisoles and vests are comfortable enough to wear immediately after a mastectomy, lumpectomy, or breast reconstruction.
Available in a variety of sizes, these camisoles and vests are usually made from a soft, stretchy material that allows the wearer to pull it up over the hips. This is especially helpful for breast surgery patients due to the lack of mobility in raising their arms overhead for at least a few weeks after surgery.
Many post-surgical camisoles also feature discreet pouches to hold surgical drains and breast pockets for lightweight prostheses. (Lightweight prostheses are typically used immediately after surgery to keep pressure off the surgical incisions while providing confidence and improved posture to patients adjusting to a changing body at the same time.
The lightweight options are then replaced with weighted prostheses when patients have fully healed.)
Front-Closing Mastectomy Bras
Because a mastectomy can temporarily limit arm movement while incisions and breast tissues heal, front-closing mastectomy bras are easy to open and close. This type of mastectomy bra typically features soft and seamless cups too, which gently sit against the breasts and offer a moderate compression for surgical incisions.
Many soft-cup mastectomy bras are designed in a bilateral way, which means breast prostheses can be placed in one or both cups, catering to women who have undergone single or double mastectomies.
Tips for Buying Mastectomy Bras
When purchasing a mastectomy bra, or any post-mastectomy recovery aid, the first thing to consider is the advice from your surgeon as to which bra is right for you. You might even be advised to buy a few different types for different stages of recovery.
Rather than shopping online, get fitted in person, ideally by a board-certified mastectomy fitter. Where you can find a mastectomy fitter, is something your oncology nurse can help with.
Additional tips for mastectomy bras include the following:
- Wireless – Avoiding underwire bras after a mastectomy will allow your surgical incisions to heal without the uncomfortable rubbing from the wires or the seams around them. It’s always best to consult with your surgeon as to when you can return to wearing underwire bras.
- Seamless – A seamless mastectomy bra will prevent surgical incisions and sensitive skin from irritation.
- Breathable Fabric – Mastectomy bras made from a breathable fabric like cotton will minimize sweating and itching during recovery.
- Wider Straps – A mastectomy bra or camisole with wide straps will ensure more comfort and support.
- Adjustability – Being able to adjust the straps for your dimensions will provide more comfort.
- Simple Style – Finding a simple mastectomy bra, but also one that suits your style will help to improve your self-image as you get used to your new body post-surgery.
Healing from breast surgery such as a mastectomy, lumpectomy, or breast reconstruction can be a harrowing and challenging time. Giving yourself the physical comfort and support of a well-fitting mastectomy bra will not only enhance your recovery but slowly help you to accept the changes to your body with confidence.
Support, positivity, and healing are of paramount importance when recuperating after a mastectomy. Remind yourself every day that you are the same beautiful woman you were pre-surgery, just braver and stronger. Once recovered, you can look forward to enjoying the rest of your life.
American Cancer Society – Mastectomy - https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/treatment/surgery-for-breast-cancer/mastectomy.html
BreastCancer.org - Type of Mastectomy - https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/surgery/mastectomy/types
Royal College of Surgeons of England - Innovative postoperative bra for patients with drains following breast surgery - https://publishing.rcseng.ac.uk/doi/10.1308/rcsann.2014.96.3.241
Dovepress - Relevance of low-pressure compression corsets in physiotherapeutic treatment of patients after mastectomy and lymphadenectomy - https://www.dovepress.com/relevance-of-low-pressure-compression-corsets-in-physiotherapeutic-tre-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-PPA