When you’re going through breast cancer treatment, thinking about fashion can feel like a frivolous, unnecessary indulgence. However, breast cancer survivors need time to heal, not just physically but emotionally, too. Returning to normal life, the pursuits you used to enjoy, and what made you feel like a unique individual are crucial elements of this emotional healing.
Making conscious daily choices about what you wear can help you feel beautiful, peaceful, and more productive post-surgery. Fashion may feel superficial or unimportant, but it’s one of the easiest ways to boost your self-image after major surgery.
For many women, a lot of emotion is tied up in the body, so undergoing breast surgery can trigger body image issues. While fashion can’t turn back time, it can help emotionally buoy you up and remind you of who you are on a deeper level.
1. It’s Not the Same For Everyone
Although there are general guidelines to follow for a comfortable post-mastectomy recovery, it’s still an individual, personal experience. The surgery isn’t the same for everyone. Not only do recovery times differ, but the severity of side effects and even the type of surgery can be vastly different too.
The different types of surgery can influence your experience and impact the required physical and emotional recovery period. Women can undergo a single or double mastectomy, lumpectomy, lymph node removal, and reconstructive surgery.
Many women choose to combine a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction as it can help with self-esteem and wellbeing. However, other women prefer to forgo additional invasive surgery and opt to wear a temporary breast prosthesis. This is an incredibly personal choice and should be discussed between you and your surgeon.
2. It Won’t Be the Same as It Was Before
After surgery, you may want to go back to how things were before, yet this may not be possible with your clothing.
Immediately after surgery, you’ll need to wear a compression garment to reduce the likelihood of lymphedema and help speed up recovery. You’ll have a limited range of motion as well as significant swelling and discomfort. However, once you’ve been given the all-clear after six to eight weeks, you can retire the compression garment and begin to make clothing choices that suit your new form.
If you’ve had a bilateral mastectomy and decide to wear breast forms, you’ll need to get the best-fitting prosthesis and mastectomy bra for your body. Breast forms can help give you a natural shape under your clothing and be paired with many attractive mastectomy bras. Breast forms come in various forms, including oval, heart, triangular, or teardrop-shaped. They are typically made from high-density foam, silicone, or silicone gel. Adding these prosthetics to your clothing can dramatically enhance your shape and can even be used with swimwear.
If you want breast forms immediately after surgery, your doctor may recommend ultra-lightweight foam prostheses, such as the Amoena Premium Priform, which features soft foam encased in a fabric cover with a silver-lined antimicrobial film for better post-surgical hygiene.
On the other hand, if you’ve undergone breast reconstruction, you’ll need to adjust to breast implants’ feel and how to dress them with your clothing. Treatment can cause changes to the condition of your skin and muscle, and breast implants can feel hard compared to natural breast tissue and can take up to three months to settle.
A supportive bra such as the Amoena Francis Leisure Recovery Bra is made from an ultra-soft high-cotton blend fabric that is gentle on your skin, and the non-wired non-padded cups adjust as your breast implants settle.
3. The Style and Feel of Your Clothing Will Be Even More Important
You may not have paid much attention to the material or style of your clothing before breast cancer treatment, yet after surgery, you’ll learn the importance of fabric texture and breathability. Tight-fitting, uncomfortable materials and styles will increase your discomfort and may slow your recovery.
Look for a soft fabric that has a slight stretch and lets your skin breathe. Natural fabrics, such as cotton or modal, are ideal. Choose mastectomy garments that offer supportive features such as bilateral pockets and ergonomic straps so you can feel more comfortable post-surgery.
The LUISA Mastectomy Tank Top is made from a lightweight, silky microfiber, which allows you to stay comfortable and cool. The built-in pocketed bra gives you support and enhances your form, while the cowl neck detail adds interest, sophistication and helps disguise surgical scars.
4. Support is Important
A supportive bra is crucial for your recovery. Whether you are buying a compression bra, leisure bra, or mastectomy bra for everyday wear, look for pieces that feature wide underbust bands. The bands are the primary source of support in a bra, with the straps offering additional support and allowing you to adjust the amount of bust lift.
Sports bras are a great choice when it comes to support. There are several specially designed sports bras, such as the Anita Vivana Active Bra, which comes with built-in pockets on both sides, lifts and separates breasts for firm support, and is made from breathable, soft fabric.
5. Your Personal Style Matters
Just because you’re shopping for specialized clothing doesn’t mean you need to settle for a generic style. Part of recovery involves helping you remember who you are, what you like, and what makes you feel good.
Regardless of the severity of the post-surgical side effects or what’s recommended as being proper mastectomy clothing, there are still ways to express your personal style and individual spirit. Make sure you show off your personality. You may even surprise yourself with your new-found confidence and lust for life, and it all begins with post-mastectomy fashion.
6. It Takes Time
You’ve been through a lot, and it will take time to settle into your new life. Fashion can be one of the ways you help bring normality and fun back into your everyday routine; post-mastectomy clothing doesn’t just have to be functional. Enjoy the range of specialized clothing available and give yourself time to adjust to the woman you are, what you’ve discovered about yourself, and who you want to be now.
Our team at A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe is here to answer any questions you have about mastectomy wear and how you can make the best choices for your needs. Call 954-978-8287 to speak to an experienced staff member or explore our comprehensive range of specially-designed, beautiful post-mastectomy clothing in-store.