How to choose the best mastectomy bras and breast forms
Losing one or both breasts is an upsetting and distressing experience for every woman. You go through a long recovery, experience a lot of post-surgery pain – and then come to the realization that your body is permanently altered. Not only will the scars be physical, but they will be psychological as well.
However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll have to give up on feeling attractive – especially if you are a young woman. With a little help, you can find the right bra after a mastectomy to make you look and feel great again.
How is a Mastectomy Bra Any Different?
You may be thinking now: how does a mastectomy bra differ from a regular one? Can’t you just take a regular bra and stuff it with whatever fits? Well, you can, but a mastectomy bra will offer you some advantages that you wouldn’t normally have with a regular bra – and that is security.
A mastectomy bra has an internal pocket where you can fit a prosthetic breast – and you’ll be able to fit it so that it doesn’t move around. If only one breast was removed, the specialists will create some realistic breast forms that will have the same shape as your surviving breast.
Furthermore, unlike traditional bras, a mastectomy one will be wireless. Surgeons will even recommend that you do not wear bras with a wire; there’s the risk they could pierce the breast implant or augmentation.
What to Look for in a Bra after Mastectomy Surgery
Comfort and fit are the main things to keep in mind when purchasing mastectomy bras. A lot of bras have mesh fabrics sewn into them, but that might feel uncomfortable as it rubs against the skin. For superior comfort, you may want to go for a bra with cotton pockets, since they will feel much softer.
Synthetic fibers are known for causing discomfort after a lumpectomy intervention, which is why most doctors recommend you to wear a bra made from natural fibers. You may also want to look for bras with hooks set in the back because they will provide more support to the breast.
While you may never be able to return to the old you again, with the best breast forms, you can reach a level of “normal” that is similar to a body shape from before surgery.
Functionality and Support in a Mastectomy Bra
We already covered that a mastectomy bra can boost self-confidence by altering our aesthetics. Still, we shouldn’t ignore the functional role that such an item provides.
This type of bra will also help support your chest and shoulders by adding equal weight on both sides. Unlike traditional bras that have been “stuffed”, a mastectomy bra with a breast form will allow your chest to breathe – on both sides. It’s definitely the more comfortable option during summer.
Every-Occasion Mastectomy Bras
One important question related to these types of bras is how they will look underneath your clothes. It’s important that you do not ditch your fashion sense simply because you underwent surgery. When wearing the best mastectomy breast forms, you may still look gorgeous like a diva in that beautiful evening gown of yours.
Mastectomy bras may come in racerback, strapless, halter tops, seamless cups, and any fabric going from plain cotton to flirty lace. Depending on your prosthetic of choice and bra style, you might want to go for a silicone breast form that projects just one bit where the nipple should be. You don’t have to change who you are simply because your body is different; technology has come a long way.
How to Get the Right Fit
Once six or eight weeks after a mastectomy has passed, you can begin looking for the right prosthetic. Unlike traditional bras where you can calculate your own size, most doctors recommend that you go to a specialized fitter to give you the “tools” you need in order to get the desired look.
Most of the time, a prosthesis used to hide a mastectomy will be made from silicone, since it gives off a more natural look. Silk is also a great option, not only because it looks cooler, but also because it’s softer on the skin and offers you more comfort. The disadvantage is that it retains sweat, and it’ll need more careful maintenance than a silicone form.
Since the range is fairly wide, women can go for prosthetics that are firm, soft, small, big, light, heavy, asymmetrical or symmetrical – whatever you may need. You can also choose from many skin tones going from sable to beige.
If you had a unilateral breast surgery, the specialist will measure your other breast to provide a fitting breast form. On the other hand, if you had a bilateral surgery and removed both breasts, the process will be simpler – you decide on which size or shape you wish to have.
Once you have the breast form, the fitter can go forward to take your band size. For that, the measuring band will go right under your breasts, with the calculations made in inches. If you get an even number, you add 4 to it to get your band size. If you get an odd one, you add five. For example, if you measure 34 inches, your band size will be a 38.
The cup size will be calculated once the breast form has been attached to you. They will measure above the band line, at the level of your nipples, and then subtract the band size from it. The difference will be put on a chart, and judging from that, you will get the cup size. Here’s how you know which cup you have, based on the difference:
- Less than 1 Inch – AA Cup
- 1 Inch – A Cup
- 2 Inches – B Cup
- 3 Inches – C Cup
- 4 Inches – D Cup
- 5 Inches – DD Cup
- 6 Inches – E Cup
- 7 Inches – F Cup
- 8 Inches – FF Cup
- 9 Inches – G Cup
- 10 Inches – GG Cup
Keep in mind that cup sizes may vary from one country to another, as you may see here. The measuring above belongs to the UK system since that’s the one used most often.
Opting for Breast Reconstruction
Some women don’t want to continuously change and attach their breast implants, which is why a breast reconstruction may seem like an easier option to deal with. The amount of the breast reconstruction will, however, depend on how much breast tissue was removed. With reconstruction, a breast may look almost like a healthy one, with just a little scar tissue left.
Plastic surgery has improved a lot over the years, and even though restoring the breasts isn’t considered cosmetic surgery, it can still do a lot to change your way of life. It won’t only have physical benefits, but psychological ones as well. It will add a sense of normality, and you will no longer have to be self-conscious when you are taking off your breast prosthesis.
One important thing to keep in mind is that you may not want to go for push-up bras and wired sexy pieces after you’ve had your breast reconstruction. If you do so, you might damage the implant. As mentioned above, while you may no longer necessarily need the pockets, you may still want to go for a wire-free bra (most maternity bras can pass for mastectomy bras and vice versa). They are the best choices when it comes to comfort and safety.
Reasons to Go Flat
While reconstructive surgery is the most popular option for women, 44% breast cancer patients choose to go without reconstruction. Women who decide against it may invoke the following reasons:
- More surgeries may cause other health issues one may want to avoid.
- They worry that if they go forward with breast reconstruction, they will lose the muscles of the flap.
- They no longer want to be kept back from their daily activities.
- The procedure is costly, and not all of it may be covered by a health insurance – making it more affordable to go for cheap breast forms.
The choice is yours, and you should also heed the words of your doctors. There aren’t any “right” or “wrong” ways to go around mastectomy, and everything will depend on your own preferences.
When and Where to Buy a Mastectomy Bra
While you may want to start wearing your mastectomy bra right after you got off from surgery, you may still want to wait for a bit so that your body can heal – around 6 months. Putting on a mastectomy bra too early may actually irritate the entire area, causing you to heal way slower than you should.
Once you decided that enough time has passed, there are many options for you to purchase mastectomy bras online – because let’s face it, it’s easier to shop on the Internet nowadays than having to go through numerous lingerie stores. It’s also more private and discreet. Amazon, in particular, is packed with pretty much everything, so you can surely find a mastectomy bra that fits you.
Review of Best Mastectomy Bras
No matter if you decide to get a breast prosthetic or reconstruct it entirely, there are still many bras and breast form options out there to help get you through these tough times, without any discomfort. Here are some of the most popular mastectomy bras you can buy online.
AMOENA Rita Wireless CoolMax Pocket Post-Mastectomy Bra
The Rita Wirefree Bra with Coolmax Pockets by Amoena is a modern silky-smooth bra with a deep stretch neckline allows you to express your femininity while being in complete comfort as well. It has no inconvenient underwire and it’s created from a smooth fabric. This bra will not rub against the skin and will not cause any irritation like a traditional underwire bra would.
The CoolMax pockets of this bra will remain dry and cool, securely holding a breast form of any shape and size. The cups go from average to full fit, so even if you have been blessed with a richer chest, you will still find the right size for you.
The sewing is qualitative and smooth, so irrespective of the clothes you decide to wear, it will still look perfect underneath. The adjustable fabric straps are also wide, allowing you to feel comfortable all day long.
The Amoena bra also offers excellent support – which is better than what a molded bra would offer. It fits true to size, so even if you purchase it online, you won’t have to worry that the item won’t fit.
- Excellent support for both the breast and the breast form
- The fit is true to size
- The breast form is securely held into its place in the pocket
- Offers more support than a bra with a molded cup
- Can look like a bullet bra if the breast is small (pointy ends)
- The soft padding on the inside of the cup is thin
TRULIFE “Barbara” Everyday Classic Mastectomy Bra
When it comes to looks and quality, TruLife’s Barbara Mastectomy Bra definitely doesn’t disappoint. Styled to offer supreme comfort and a support, this pretty bra features a lace trim along the neckline as well as a ribbon bow made of satin in the center.
The cups run a little small with this bra, so the advice for everyone intending to purchase this item would be to go one cup higher. Therefore, if you usually wear a B cup, you may want to try a C cup, since it will be a much better fit.
While the colors are only available in nude, black and white for some sizes, this bra makes up in style and functionality. Plus, it’s one of the few companies that provides bras in smaller sizes, going from 32A to the more generous 48E.
The pockets are made from a breathable CoolMax material placed on both sides of the bra. They will keep the breast form securely in place so that you can be as comfortable as possible.
- Excellent support for the breasts
- It comes in sizes available for small and large cups
- Light material that feels comfortable on the skin
- Runs on the small size, so you may have to order one that is larger than normal
- Larger sizes only come in black, white and cream
CLASSIQUE Scalloped Lace bra with Breast Form Pockets
If you feel like you are sick of the regular cotton mastectomy bras, then this bra will certainly grab your attention. It will allow you to feel pretty, even on the toughest of days.
The Scalloped Lace Bra from Classique is sophisticated, sensual and made from a beautiful lace that will beat any type of regular lingerie. Plus, it has a pretty color-on-color effect to offer you that sexy look even if you are hiding a prosthetic beneath it.
The pockets on both sides of this bra are made from spandex and cotton so that it snugly accommodates around your breast form. It also features comfortable adjustable straps that will make you never want to take the bra off, at least until you go to sleep.
- It looks exactly like a beautiful, traditional bra
- The lace is soft, so it won’t cause irritations on the skin
- The fit is point on
- If comes with a sexy color-on-color design
- Even though they are adjustable, the straps may run short
- It may not be as soft as other padded bras
- It can ride up if the fit is not right
ROYCE Caress Antoinette Double Pocketed Mastectomy Bra
When you want to be stylish, you can never go wrong with Royce. The Caress Antoinette Mastectomy Bra is smooth and elegant, adorned with beautiful lace that every lady will adore. The bra also has some nice padded cups to not only shape your own breasts but to make your prosthesis look as realistic as possible.
The bra is wireless, making it very comfortable for women who have undergone breast surgery. At the same time, it has a soft cotton lining in the cups so that it holds the breast forms securely in place. It’s perfect regardless if you need a single mastectomy bra or a bilateral one.
The Antoinette mastectomy bra also has an adjustable, removable insert that is meant to provide extra coverage. The brand has many sizes available, being also fairly popular for the fact that it distributes large bras as well. You can easily find items going from an A cup to a generous DD cup.
- It has a beautiful design
- It’s comfortable to wear because it’s wire-free
- It features removable lace in the front for more coverage
- It can be expensive
- There are not many color options to choose from
Review of Best Breast Forms
Choosing the right breast forms is just as important as choosing the right mastectomy bra. There are many cheap breast prosthetics meant for costumes or non-serious use. However, these have quality issues, unrealistic shapes and colors, or use uncomfortable materials. For daily use, you should only consider reputable breast form brands as listed below.
AMOENA Essential Light Breast Form
Once you’ve purchased the Amoena bra, you’ll have to complete the set and buy one of the best breast forms from the same brand. The Amoena Essential Breast Forms Series are the number one bestsellers for breast forms, with the most sizes, shapes, and other options put together with premium quality materials.
Designed to be inserted in a pocketed bra, this silicone breast form will offer you a natural look regardless of the side. The fact that it is lightweight also makes it ideal if you suffer from back or bone problems.
If you have a fuller figure, this breast form is perfect for you. Regardless if you need a symmetrical or asymmetrical breast form, you can find the right size with this one.
To understand the shape naming convention, keep in mind that S stands for symmetric, A for asymmetric, and E for extra. Usually S is best for standard mastectomies, and A is better for when you have a lump or lymph node removed.
Amoena’s fullness naming convention uses 1 for shallow, 2 for normal, and 3 for full. If you browse the Amazon listings, you will see models such as 3E, which means full and extra shape. Then, you can pick the correct size using their sizing system copied below. For example, if your bra size is a 34B, then you will need a breast form size 4.
- Appropriate for sportswear
- The silicone will not slip from its place
- There’s the risk of puncture if not handled carefully
- Some skin tones not available
Alternative: TRINATURE Asymmetric Softlite Breast Form
We strongly recommend the Amoena breast forms. However, for special cases, another slightly cheaper brand might suit you. If you need an asymmetric prosthesis, the TriNature Asymmetric Softlite breast forms are a good alternative. Based on a Flex-Gap technology, the breast form will provide a natural look along with flexibility and mobility.
The breast form is ultra light, breathable and you’ll be very comfortable wearing it the entire day. If you are looking for a cheaper breast form and can’t spring for the Amoena ones, this is a good option. Asymmetric breast forms like this are also great for dealing with lymphedema.
- Comes in many sizes
- Soft and light material
- Needs to be handled with care
The number of breast cancer survivors continues to increase, which is both a bad and good thing. Of course it is great that there are more survivors, but it would be better if no one had cancer in the first place.
Still, with the growing number of mastectomy patients, we now have more and improved options for post-surgery bra options. When it comes to the best bras after a mastectomy and the best breast forms, Amoena seems to be the top choice. Other brands of bras and breast forms can work well too, but the largest and most respected brand is still Amoena.
Top image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11064787385