Post-Mastectomy Bras and Camisoles

Why the Help and What to Look For

Before you head to the hospital for any type of breast surgery, it's a good idea to prepare yourself for recovery mode by purchasing a post-surgical bra or camisole and packing it in your overnight bag. You might even want to buy more than one bra, as you'll likely need to wear a post-surgical bra continually until you heal.

Mastectomy Bras and Recovery

Whether you choose to have breast reconstruction or use a prosthesis, a mastectomy bra offers a lot of comfort immediately following surgery. Mastectomy bras have soft inner linings, which won't rub against sensitive skin or scars as they heal; they have special pockets to accommodate a prosthesis as well.

Note: It's best to use a lightweight prosthesis right after a mastectomy. A prosthesis is a quick and easy way to fill the space where your breast once was, but you don't want to put any extra weight and pressure on your incisions. Wait to wear a weighted prosthesis until after you've healed.

Types of Bras

Various types of bras are available. Your specific needs and where you are in the healing process will determine which type you need when.

Front-Closing Soft Cup Bras

Because breast surgery sometimes affects your shoulder rotation, you may have trouble reaching hooks on a bra that closes in the back or pulling a bra on over your head.

Soft cup bras will stretch to fit over surgical dressings and provide light compression on incisions, and front-closure will make it easier to put on and take off.

Compression Bras and Vests

Your breast surgeon might tell you to get a compression bra or vest for wear after surgery. These offer greater coverage of the breasts, back, and underarm tissues. Compression on incisions can also help prevent swelling from fluid buildup as you heal.

The right compression bra or vest will hold your skin in place and prevent the skin from shifting and stretching around your stitches. This helps reduce puckering around scar tissue, which saves you from needing additional surgery in the long run.

Post-Surgical Tops and Camisoles

Tops and camisoles designed for use after breast surgery are often adorned with lace and other embellishments and are made of stretchy, lightweight, super soft fabric. Some come with bra cups and built-in prostheses, as well as pockets that can hold surgical drains securely in place.

T-shirts, nightgowns, and pajama tops designed with bra cups and removable drain pockets are also available.

What to Look For

Let comfort be your guide when shopping for post-surgical bras. There are a few specific things to look for when shopping for a comfortable bra:

  • Wide bands: Wide bands across the shoulders and beneath the breasts assure that the bra will stay put and won't dig into your skin.
  • Adjustable straps and closures: These will help you achieve the closest and most comfortable fit.
  • No seams: Wearing a seamless bra means less irritation to your sensitive, tender skin, and especially your incisions.
  • Comfortable fabric: Breathable fabrics and natural fibers will prevent sweating.

Underwires should be avoided, as they can dig into the skin. Check with your doctor or surgeon before you start wearing underwire bras again.

Where to Find Bras and Camisoles

If possible, it's better to shop in person for post-mastectomy products, as opposed to online. Many medical centers have their own boutiques, where you can be properly fitted for a bra and prosthesis; independent stores exist as well. Your oncologist or social worker can offer suggestions on the best places to go.

Most insurance plans cover these items, but make sure to check before you make a purchase. There are also organizations that provide free mastectomy products.

A Word From Verywell

Wearing a comfortable post-mastectomy bra—with or without a prosthetic breast—can aid healing and also be an important step toward feeling attractive in your clothes. If possible, find a professional who will take the time to carefully measure you for the most comfortable and flattering fit.

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Article Sources

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