Women wear bras for a variety of reasons, including comfort, appearance, or because it's socially "expected". When a woman has had breast surgery and their breast or part of their breast removed, choosing a bra becomes more complex and more important.
Padded, soft-cup, T-shirt, underwire – which bra is right for you?
Let's look at the different styles of bra available.
A padded bra may also be known as a moulded bra. These bras have a layer of foam or fibre fill forming the cups. They offer a smooth silhouette under clothing and an enhanced bust line. They also prevent the nipple from showing and may provide comfort for sensitive breasts.
This bra provides additional support to breasts during physical exercise. They minimise breast movement, alleviate discomfort, and reduce potential damage to chest ligaments. Charlotte Harding from femail.co.uk writes:
You may have spent a fortune on gym membership and invested in a great new kit.
But it's more than likely that you're missing the most vital piece of exercise equipment of all - a sports bra.
Despite the current boom in the leisure industry, three quarters of women in Britain wear the wrong type of bra for working out.
You may wonder what all the fuss is about. But the facts speak for themselves.
Breasts are mostly composed of fatty tissue and are supported mainly by skin and fragile ligaments called Coopers' ligaments. Because these are not elastic, during repetitive or high impact sport the breasts bounce and pull on the ligaments, forcing them to stretch. Once these ligaments have stretched they stay this way. The result is every woman's nightmare - sagging breasts.
Going without the correct support can also cause breast pain and upper back and shoulder problems.
Running without any bra at all causes the average woman's breasts to move up and down by 8.5cm. Wearing an ordinary bra reduces this by 32 per cent. A sports bra reduces this by at least another 20 per cent.
A survey from Herriot-Watt University last year showed that even breasts sized 34A need extra support during sport.
This style of bra has thin rigid material sewn into the underside of the cup of the bra. In the past, this rigid material was a wire, but now it can be made of metal, plastic, or resin. The purpose of the wire is to provide additional support for the breasts.
A front-fastening bra has hooks and eyes that do up at the front of the bra in between the cups. Sometimes the bra may also have hooks at the back, offering women the choice of either front or back closure.
A soft bra for wearing to bed, or relaxing at home, usually without hooks or zips.
These bras are designed for wear after breast surgery during the recovery period that may take weeks. During this time, depending on the type of surgery, the breasts will be sore, swollen, and extremely sensitive. The bras feature extra support and are front-fastening. They need to be worn all day and night during the recovery process to ensure that the breasts are fully supported.
These bras feature a lace panel across the neckline, which raises the neckline and looks like a normal camisole top when seen under clothes.
Wire-Free or Soft-cup
This is simply a bra without an underwire. They can include cut and sewn cups for additional support (eg. Trulife Barbara) or be smooth for a seam free look under tops (eg. Amoena Mona).
This is an underwire bra that can be worn without straps. It has a silicone lining along the upper edge to help provide support. Usually the bra comes with straps so it can be worn either way.
A mastectomy bra has pockets, usually both sides, in which a breast form can be inserted. All of the above-mentioned bras may also be mastectomy bras.
So, which bra style is right for you?
If your surgery has left you with scarring or uneveness of the chest, you may like to wear one of the camisole bras such as Trulife Jessica or Amoena Isabel. There is also a padded camisole bra from Amoena called Amber.
Don’t like seams? Perhaps try a padded bra for that smooth look. If you don’t want the extra ‘bulk’ – try Amoena Mona, Silima Julie or Anita Lisa. Want a lacy feminine bra? Check out Amoena Auriele or Amoena Lilly. There are many options with lace, ruched straps and pretty colours. If you’re affected by lymphoedema look at Anita Lymph-o-fit or Amoena Linda. If exercise is on your agenda look at Amoena Performance, Amoena Power, Anita Vivana or Anita Extreme Control, which offer good support.
Wanting to wear an off the shoulder top or that special dress? Try Amoena's strapless Barbara bra. Trulife's Daniela can be worn as a crossover or halterneck.
Before wearing an underwire it is wise to check with your breast care nurse or surgeon to ensure that there is no danger of lymph gland issues arising. If the go ahead is given you may like to look at Trulife Audrey for that smooth look or Amoena Karolina for a touch of lace. Women who have arthritis or mobility difficulty often find a fast-fastening bra easier to wear. Amoena Nancy or Amoena Mara are great choices.
For post-surgical wear, Amoena Sina and Amoena Leyla are perfect for women having breast reconstruction and Amoena Ester for reduction/augmentation. Amoena Frances or Amoena Hannah are ideal after the initial recover phase after a mastectomy or lumpectomy. Amoena Pamela offers the highest level of compression, suitable after mastectomy with immediate breast reconstruction with a flap.
Amoena Hannah and Amoena Frances are also great as a comfortable, easy to wear leisure bra.
All in all, mastectomy bras can offer women a bra for any occasion. No longer is the choice limited in style or colour. At Erilan Mastectomy Collection there are many choices, which we know can sometimes feel overwhelming. We would love to hear from you if you have any questions or need some guidance.