The type of bra you need after undergoing breast surgery will change over time. Right after your surgery (and up to a few weeks later) you'll probably have some tenderness and swelling and should choose a soft bra that isn’t too restrictive. If you have a bra that fits on the loosest hook this can be made tighter as the swelling goes down. A front-fastening bra is a good option as it will most likely be easier for you to put on as your mobility may be limited - it should prevent the discomfort you may have around the arms and armpits when fastening a standard bra clasp.
While the skin and nerves settle down and repair after radiotherapy and once the area recovers from surgery it’s best to have a bra that has a wide underband, fully adjustable straps, soft seams, full cups and no underwires.
In the next few months and potentially up to a year post-surgery many women find that their size and shape changes because of weight and treatment-related factors. After about a year, once the skin around the chest area has healed completely and returned to normal, you can start to wear less restrictive bras (providing they still have a full cup to hold a prosthesis in place). Specialist lingerie shops, chains or department stores will have experienced bra fitters with training who know how to serve women who have had breast surgery.
Some forms of breast surgery, such as reconstruction using silicone implants, require a compression garment to be worn day and night for up to 6 weeks after surgery. These garments ideally are front-fastening for ease of putting on and taking off and often have two rows of hooks to allow for a better fit as the swelling goes down. Additionally, a compression belt may be worn across the top of the breasts to stop the implants from rising.
If the Latissimus Dorsi Flap is used in a breast reconstruction a similar bra may be worn but preferably one with a longer line as it will help support the back area from where the flap was removed.
Suitable bra: Amoena Patricia Post Surgery Bra.
If surgery involved the removal of lymph nodes it is advisable to wear a bra that will not dig into the skin, causing the flow of lymphatic fluid to be restricted. Mainly wearing a wire free bra with wide straps, good underband and soft seams will help to prevent the possibility of lymphodeoma setting in.
For some women who have had a mastectomy, wearing a breast prosthesis may be a temporary choice prior to reconstruction surgery. For other women the decision may be not have breast reconstruction, whether that’s because they are less concerned than others about changes to their appearance, or whether they do not want to go through the extra surgery and recovery that breast reconstruction involves. There are lots of reasons why someone may not have breast reconstruction surgery, but if that is the case then many find wearing a prosthesis an effective and suitable long-term choice.
Breast prostheses are artificial breasts, usually made from soft silicone gel, that replace the shape of all or part of the breast that has been removed. The prosthesis will fill a bra cup and is moulded to resemble the natural shape of a woman’s breast (or part of a breast, dependant on the surgery).
A prosthesis can be fitted once your scar area is fully healed and any swelling has gone down (this usually occurs after a six to eight week period). You'll need a well-fitting, supportive bra to hold your prosthesis.
Mastectomy bras are made from soft, breathable fabric, such as moisture-wicking microfibre for comfort, and are specifically designed for women who have had a breast removed. They feature pockets for prostheses or breast forms and some are designed to cover any irregularities at the underarm or towards the top to cover upper chest scars. The best thing is, they come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, colours and styles, from practical sports bras to lace-detailed balconettes so you’re not limited to what to wear once you are fully recovered from your breast surgery.
Whether you’ve had a reconstruction or use a prosthesis it’s best to avoid wearing an underwired bra while the area recovers post-surgery because the wires can apply pressure to the area and impact how a prosthesis sits as well as restricting the flow of lymphatic fluid.
A well fitting bra to help shape the breast and provide support after breast reduction surgery is important. Once again, front fastening is ideal with rows of hooks for adjustment as well as soft fabric with no seams on the breast area. The Amoena Ester is suitable here as the moulded cups give shape and support and the sporty look means you can enjoy wearing it after healing has taken place.
We hope this guide has been helpful. If you need any further information please get in touch, we’re always happy to help. You can shop our full range of mastectomy bras here.