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Mastectomy Surgery - Post-Surgery Bra Questions

Breast cancer. One of the most common types of cancer in the world, with around 56,000 new cases being diagnosed every single year. Many of these cases can be treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy, but sadly around 81% of patients diagnosed with breast cancer will need surgery. Surgery to remove a tumour, a portion of tissue or even the whole breast, which is known as a mastectomy. If you have one of these surgeries, then life can look a little different for you, including your underwear. So today, let’s get a bit more intimate, and talk about life after breast cancer surgery.

Should I Be Wearing A Bra After A Mastectomy?

This is one of the most common questions that women ask once they’ve had their mastectomy or lumpectomy. They might be worried they need to hold things in, or feel that wearing a bra might be too uncomfortable while they recover. The good news is that, unless you’ve been specifically advised to wear a surgical bra by your surgeon or nurse, you don’t really need anything special.

It’s worth knowing that surgery and even radiotherapy on your breasts can make your chest feel particularly sensitive. So most women tend to ditch their normal bras in favour of something a bit softer, more comfortable and more forgiving. That could be something made of a softer material, with less structure, or with a front fastening so that it’s easier to put on.

In the first year after your surgery, the type of bra you need to wear will change, sometimes month on month, to support your recovery.

What Types Of Bra Should I Wear?

For a while after your surgery, whether that’s a mastectomy or a lumpectomy, your breasts will change a lot. It can take up to a year for such a delicate area of the body to fully heal. There are hundreds of nerves to repair, tissue to knit together and any skin changes from radiotherapy or chemotherapy to settle down. You might also lose or gain weight, especially if you’re having further treatments, which mean your breasts can change size and shape. So while your body is recovering, you’ll need a slightly different kind of bra than you usually wear.

The good news is that it doesn’t matter what brand you choose, as long as it has:

  • Soft seams

  • A wider underband

  • Deep front and side panels

  • Full cups

  • Cup separation (so that the centre of the bra between the cups sits flat against your chest)

  • Fully adjustable straps

  • Minimal detailing

  • No underwiring

  • High cotton content

Buying a bra with all of this in mind will mean you can be more comfortable in those first 12 months post-surgery,

Will My Breasts Still Be The Same Size?

Maybe. And that’s honestly the best answer we can give. Surgery on your breasts changes a lot of things, and once you’re in recovery or even post-recovery, you might find your bras don’t fit as well anymore. Not all women find this, but many do.

So a good first step is visiting a high street shop of specialist lingerie shop. They both have experienced bra fitters who can measure you post-surgery and let you know what your size is right now. These ladies will also have had specialist training in helping women who have had breast surgery, so you’ll be in safe hands. If you’re feeling hesitant, you can always call ahead and make sure you can be seen by an expert.

What On Earth Is A Bra Pocket?

Depending on the type of surgery you’ve had (and your personal preference), you might want to have a prosthesis fitted. A prosthesis will give you the appearance of a more normal-looking chest, by moulding an artificial breast made of silicone to fill the gap left by your surgery. You would then wear this in your bra and for all intents and purposes will have a normal looking chest. If you choose this, you will need to wear either a well-fitting bra with a full cup, or a bra with a ‘pocket’.

This is essentially a fabric pocket that’s sewn into the bra cup to hold the prosthesis comfortably in place. It gives you a much more natural appearance and can make a lot of women feel more comfortable and confident. Most mastectomy bras will come with an optional bra pocket, but you can also adapt any ordinary bra by sewing a piece of stretchy material across the back of the cup to act as a pocket.

Breast cancer is never a pleasant thing to go through, especially if you have to face life-altering surgery at the same time. At Jill’s Fundraising Journey breast cancer is something we are passionate about, as it’s what our namesake Jill struggled against before her death. Which is why we want to end this blog simply  - check yourself.


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