Being diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing a mastectomy can be incredibly challenging and impact every area of your life. After surgery, you may be left feeling vulnerable and unsure about how to resume your life with the subsequent physical and emotional changes that occurred. It’s common for women to feel self-conscious or to worry about their body post-surgery.
Even if you used to have a definite style and knew exactly what you liked to wear, a mastectomy can make the most confident dressers question how their new body will impact their wardrobe choices.
However, there are things you can do to feel more confident and comfortable in your skin after a mastectomy. Despite the discomfort and unfamiliarity with this new life stage, you can still enjoy fashion and feeling feminine.
What to Expect After Surgery
You can experience a range of side effects from breast surgery; this can depend on the type of mastectomy you have. Some of the potential side effects are:
- Restricted arm and shoulder movement
- Numbness in the upper arms and chest
- Sensitive skin around the wound
- Tenderness and pain around the incision
- Swelling around the incision
- Lymphedema (if lymph nodes are removed, you can be at higher risk of development.)
- Hematoma (an accumulation of blood in the wound)
- Nerve pain in the upper body (also known as PMPS, post-mastectomy pain syndrome)
- Seroma (an accumulation of clear fluid in the wound)
You’ll need to dress in a way that takes these potential side effects into account and allows you to remain comfortable. While this will, most likely, not impact your choice of pants or skirts, it will directly impact what you wear on your upper torso.
What to Wear After a Mastectomy
After surgery, it’s essential to choose comfortable, loose Mastectomy clothing, which is easy to remove. You won’t want to deal with restrictive, awkward clothing that takes time and effort to navigate. You’ll want to avoid tighter clothing, which may interfere with scar tissue, wounds, or drains.
Fabric can make a significant difference with personal comfort. Pick soft materials such as cotton jersey to avoid irritation. Lightweight materials that allow the skin to breathe can help you remain comfortable, dry and regulate your temperature.
Directly after surgery, just the act of getting dressed can take a lot of energy. So, even if you’re putting on pants, you’ll want easy Mastectomy clothing options. Opt for sweatpants, leggings, or soft pull-on pajama pants.
What to Look for in a Post-Mastectomy Bra
Immediately after surgery, your doctor may recommend a compression bra. Choosing the right compression bra is critical; you’ll want to look for a piece that can provide the support you’ll need.
The right compression bra will stop the skin from unnecessarily moving and stretching around the stitches. It also applies gentle pressure to your upper body to boost blood flow and facilitate lymphatic drainage.
The Anita Medical Garments Compression Bra is an excellent option. This piece offers all the right features for starting life after a mastectomy, and it’s considered medical-grade. The 85% high-cotton composition allows the skin to breathe, while the 15% high-elastane content gives it the required stretching capability.
This bra allows your body the stabilization it needs after surgery, as well as holding any bandages in place. The support comes from the molded cups double layer of stretch cotton and thick velcro fastening straps. If you require a tighter fit, the adjustable post-op belt lays around the chest, offering even more support.
For the early days of your physical recovery, you need a bra that provides a certain amount of restriction to stop unwanted movement. By using a compression bra that restricts movement, you’ll prevent the tissue from puckering as it tries to heal. This can save additional hassles in the future and can even prevent the need for future corrective surgery in the long-term.
If you have undergone breast reconstruction surgery, you’ll most likely be placed in a surgical bra. This is similar to a sports bra but has a front-facing clasp for easy removal. A surgical bra may need to be worn for up to eight weeks but plays a crucial role in supporting your implants to prevent dislocation and improving circulation to aid healing.
Getting the Right Support
As you heal, you’ll naturally transition from a surgical or compression bra to needing specially designed mastectomy bras. When this time comes, you’ll need to be professionally fitted to ensure you have the perfect bra size for your body.
A good mastectomy bra should have fully adjustable straps, a wide underband, deep side and front panels, soft seams, no underwire, and full cups. You will need to base your cup size on the size of your largest breast. If you have opted against reconstructive surgery, your mastectomy bra should also feature interior pockets in the cups to hold a breast form.
It’s important to consult with your medical specialist—your oncologist, surgeon, or nurse—about introducing specific Mastectomy clothing items and activities into your lifestyle. As you heal, your needs will automatically shift, but you must be guided through the process by a professional who can monitor your healing progress.
The Ultimate Post-Mastectomy Bra
The Anita Hanni Post Mastectomy Bra offers the ultimate comfort. It has pre-shaped cups, made from the softest microfiber, and padded shoulder straps. This style is available in sizes 32 to 42, A to DD, and in black or desert colors. Another amazing feature is the breast prosthesis pockets, made from delicate tulle, to provide a breathable protective barrier between your skin and the breast form.
It can be hard to know what kind of bra to get, especially if you plan to use prosthetics. Consulting with a professional certified fitter can ensure you make the right choice. A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe offers confidential and supportive fitting services.
Choosing the Right Swimwear
Once your doctor clears you for swimming, you may begin to wonder about the best choices for post-surgical swimwear. Thankfully, there are many attractive swimsuits for women who have undergone a mastectomy, including tankinis, one-piece swimsuits, and bikinis.
If you’re looking for a timeless bathing suit, look no further than the Penbrooke Mastectomy Swimsuit. This swimsuit’s high neck design keeps your breast forms in place and disguises surgical scars, allowing you to swim freely and with confidence. This piece is available in both black and dark teal blue, making it a great choice for everyone, regardless of color preference.
The Penbrook Girl Leg Swim Brief provides extra coverage for women who like a classic swim bottom. This piece combines the freedom of a bikini-style while offering discreet tummy control. The high waist style provides extra coverage and complements this swim brief’s supportive construction.
Feel free to mix and match this piece with a range of mastectomy tankini and bikini tops. The black shade of these briefs will complement various other colors or patterns. If you want a full bikini set, team this brief with the Amoena Cocos Swim Top.
The Best Online Store for Post-Mastectomy Bras and Swimsuits
If you are interested in investing in the best specially-designed bras and swimsuits for your post-mastectomy body, visit A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe. Call (877) 413-2272 to talk with a staff member and book a professional fitting with a BOC-certified fitter.