Many women wear ill-fitting bras without realising it - almost 80% of us, in fact! Whether it’s a band that’s too loose or a cup that’s too small, if you haven’t had your breasts measured in the last few years, you’re probably wearing the wrong size.
Wearing the right bra is so important to breast - and overall - health. Walking around all day with improperly supported breasts can have a negative impact on posture, skin texture and even circulation, so let’s look at a few key signs to look for that will help you identify whether you’re wearing the wrong bra size.
Your straps are slipping
If your bra straps keep falling down, this is the first sign your bra may not be the correct size. First, try tightening them up a bit - they might have stretched out a bit in the wash. If this makes no difference or your straps keep slipping even after you adjust them, then your bra isn’t supporting your breasts and you should try going down a band size.
Many women convince themselves that slipping straps are just something everyone deals with post-mastectomy. However, it is actually a sign that either your cups are too big, the band is too large, or your bra has lost its elasticity and needs to be replaced.
Your straps dig in
This is the opposite problem to the above - if your straps are digging into your shoulders, your bra is probably too small. This isn’t about how heavy your boobs are, it just means your band isn't giving you the support you need, so your straps are taking the slack and digging into your shoulders. Try going down a band size.
Your prosthesis rides up
A bra that fits properly should make your prosthesis stay in place all day. If the prosthesis rides up during the day or when you move in certain ways, then your bra does not fit as well as it should. This may be a sign that the band is too tight as this puts upward pressure on the prosthesis.
This is common in women who lose weight around their surgery and then put it back on in the year after. If fastening your bra strap on the looser set of hooks does not work, then you need to go up a band size or more.
The underwire pokes you
Bras are not supposed to be uncomfortable. If you find your underwire poking you in the ribs or side of your boobs, don’t write it off as an uncomfortable bra, it probably just doesn’t fit right. Go up a cup size to keep underwire from digging in.
You’re spilling out of your cup
Does your bra struggle to contain you? Are you spilling out over the top or sides of the cups, or do you notice a random bit of skin between your bra and your armpit? That’s probably part of your boob, and it means that those cups aren’t fitting right. It's time to go up a cup size.
You have ”back fat”
Despite what you might think, bulging back skin around your bra band may not necessarily be back fat — it's usually just your bra that’s too tight and squeezing your body into those unflattering shapes. When trying out a bra, make sure you look at your back. If you can see the bra pinching at your skin and giving you all sorts of lumps and bumps, try going up a band size.
Your band is riding up at the back
Stand to the side and look in the mirror: Is your band even? Your band should fit firmly and horizontally across your back, below your shoulder blades and parallel to the floor. If it's riding up in the back, the band is too big. Go down a band size.
Your cups are baggy or wrinkling
Any bra, whether it’s mastectomy or otherwise, should fit closely around your breast without a gap at the top of the cup. The exception to this is if your surgery has created a ‘hollow’ on your chest wall. Normally, if either cup has empty space at the top of it, then your bra is too big and you should go down a cup size. This happens more often with a natural breast than with a prosthesis.
This can also happen if you lose weight: your breast may no longer fill up the cup, and you may need a smaller cup size and a smaller prosthesis. While gaping may not cause much discomfort, it does affect the way your bra sits under clothing, which could make you feel self-conscious.
You’re wearing your bra on the last hook
The middle hook should feel the most comfortable. This gives you some leeway so that you can tighten it as your bra stretches over time or you lose weight, or loosen it a little if you gain some weight. If it's already too loose, go down a band size.
Your back and/or neck hurts
There are lots of potential causes of neck and back pain, but if you have investigated other possibilities (such as poor posture and injuries) to no avail, then your bra could be the problem.
Pain the the neck/back is a sign you’re not getting the right support from your bra because it's the wrong size. Straps that are too tight can cause you to curl your shoulders and round your back without realising - making you sore throughout the day. Loosening your straps might help, but you may also need to go down a bra size so you don't need to keep the straps so tight in order to hold your prosthesis in place.