After breast cancer surgery, finding a comfortable bra that suits your new body can be challenging. Mastectomy bras, designed specifically for women after breast surgery, can help the healing process while providing the protection and security you need during this time.
Learn about who needs a mastectomy bra and what specific benefits only a pocketed mastectomy bra can offer.
What is a Mastectomy?
A mastectomy is a type of breast cancer surgery women undergo to remove their entire breast or breasts. There are a few reasons a woman might get a mastectomy:
- If a breast-conserving surgery, like a lumpectomy, would not be sufficient to eradicate the cancer.
- If a woman opts for a mastectomy over a lumpectomy for personal reasons.
- If breast cancer runs in a woman’s family or she has a BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation, she may get a preventative mastectomy to protect her from developing breast cancer later.
- If a woman who has already had a lumpectomy or unilateral mastectomy gets cancer for a second time, she may choose to have a double mastectomy and remove both breasts completely.
Types of Mastectomies
What type of mastectomy a woman gets depends on how much the cancer has spread and if the cancer has already spread to both breasts.
Simple (Total) Mastectomy
The entire breast (including the nipple, areola, and skin covering the chest muscle) is removed. A double (or bilateral) mastectomy removes both breasts, and a single (or unilateral) mastectomy removes only one. The surgeon may also remove specific lymph nodes under the arm depending on the situation.
Like the total mastectomy, this procedure removes the breast tissue, nipple, and areola. However, a skin-sparing mastectomy conserves the skin over the breast, so patients have less scar tissue. This procedure may not be possible if the tumor is larger or close to the skin surface.
This procedure leaves the nipple and areola in place but is typically an option for women with early-stage cancers more than two centimeters from the nipple and areola.
After a mastectomy, some women undergo reconstructive surgery, while others opt for breast forms. Breast forms (or prostheses) are typically plastic film pouches made of silicone gel that feel and look like skin. They can also be made from lightweight foam or fiberfill.
Breast forms can be directly adhered to the skin and worn with a traditional bra. However, most women prefer the comfort and security of a pocketed bra designed for women after a mastectomy.
What is a Pocketed Bra?
A pocketed bra is a type of post-surgery bra with fabric pockets sewn inside the bra cups to hold breast prostheses in place. These pockets provide a soft, gentle layer between your skin and breast forms.
Most styles of post-mastectomy bras, from compression bras to fashion bras, offer pocketed options. Women who want extra compression to reduce inflammation after breast surgery can choose a pocketed compression bra. Those who prefer something more stylish can find a pocketed fashion bra that is supportive and flattering.
Some women who wear self-adhesive silicone breast forms still prefer pocketed bras over regular bras because of the pocket’s comfort and support.
Why Do I Need a Pocketed Bra After Mastectomy?
If you wear a breast prosthesis after your mastectomy, either temporarily while waiting for reconstructive surgery or as a permanent solution, wearing a pocketed bra is your best option for a comfortable, natural silhouette.
Pocketed bras generally have a wide panel under your arms and bust that offers added support and helps to hide surgical scars. They typically feature soft molded cups for gentle support and shaping and wide straps that you can adjust for even weight distribution across your shoulders and neck.
The sewn interior pocket holds your breast forms securely in the bra, so your prosthesis won’t slip around, and no surgical scars will open when you move. Pocketed bras also have smooth seams that won’t irritate your surgical site.
Pocketed bras come in various styles, from simple and classic to lacy and flirtatious. There are even pocketed sports bras that can support you when you’re ready to start exercising again.
What Else Should I Look for in a Post-Mastectomy Bra?
A good post-mastectomy bra can help speed up your recovery. For the best results, choose a bra with some or all of these features:
- Front closure: Your movement may be limited after surgery. Bras that you can open and close in the front are a lot easier to take on and off.
- Soft fabric/seams: Choose seamless or flat seam bras to avoid irritating the surgical site or opening stitches. Bras with a high cotton content are also a good option for breathability.
- Gentle compression: The risk of lymphedema increases following a mastectomy. Bras with gentle compression can help reduce and prevent excess swelling.
- Wide underband: After a mastectomy, you need extra support underneath the bra cups and around your back. After a mastectomy, you need extra support underneath the bra cups and around your back.
- Fully adjustable straps: These allow you to fit your bra to your body instead of fitting your body to your bra These allow you to fit your bra to your body instead of fitting your body to your bra
- No underwires: Avoid any uncomfortable and harmful poking and prodding at the surgical site with a non-wired bra. Choose one with molded cups instead for added support.
- Minimal detailing: Bits of lace and small designs are fine as long as they will not irritate your surgical site
Find a Pocketed Bra
A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe offers pocketed mastectomy bras, post-surgical compression garments, and other mastectomy items to support your recovery.
We also provide in-person and virtual customized fittings for breast forms and pocketed mastectomy bras. You can view available upcoming appointments on our online schedule. Call us at (954) 978-8287 today for more information or to book your private fitting.