Mastectomy bras are designed for use after a mastectomy or partial mastectomy (lumpectomy). They have material sewn into the cup of the bra to form a pocket. A breast form (prosthesis) can then be inserted into either one pocket to match the remaining natural breast, or into both pockets if a bilateral mastectomy was done.
Most private health insurance funds reimburse all or some of the cost of mastectomy bras under Extras cover. In New Zealand, the government includes bras in their mastectomy rebate scheme (see our post here about this). In Australia, Medicare will reimburse breast forms but sadly not bras at this stage.
What are the Advantages of Wearing a Mastectomy Bra?
- Secure fit - when placed in the pocket you can be assured that the form won't move, is snug against your body, and 'hidden'
- Women may prefer the feel of the pocket against their skin rather than direct contact with the silicone breast form - especially in warmer weather
- Many mastectomy bras have wider, padded straps which prevent "cutting in" - this can help reduce the risk of lymphoedema
- Underbust bands on a mastectomy bra tend to be wider to give increased support to larger breasts and breast forms
- Underwires are generally avoided, as they can put pressure on delicate scar tissue
- Other design features of a mastectomy bra include wider side and back bands and more padding under the back closure, to prevent pressure areas and "cutting in", distribute the weight of the breast/breast form evenly across the shoulders (to avoid neck strain) and help prevent the shoulders rolling forwards
Women need not fear having little choice as there are many styles and colours to choose from in the mastectomy bra range. Women can still feel feminine and fashionable whilst comfortable.