Guide After A Mastectomy - Choosing Which Clothes to Wear

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A mastectomy can have a significant impact on a woman's physical and psychological well-being. After surgery it's important to choose clothing.
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A bra that's too small will squash your prosthesis, causing it to protrude and possibly even pop out. To ensure your prosthesis stays firmly in place and out of sight, you should regularly check that your bra is the correct size. Many women continue to wear the same size bra year after year, forgetting to take into account even slight variations caused by weight loss or gain. Most high street department stores and lingerie shops offer a complimentary bra-fitting service.

Some even offer a specialist postsurgery service. Before you hit the high street, phone up and find out. The majority of women state that one of the most upsetting aspects of a mastectomy is that after surgery they're unable to buy feminine, sexy underwear. They're forced to choose from dull ranges of hefty mastectomy 'pocket' bras with thick straps that limit their choice of clothing.

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Having to wear these items or to throw away their presurgery lingerie reduces many women to tears. But this needn't be the case. Once you know your correct bra size, then you can select any normal bra style, as long as it offers the following features:. Obviously, half-cup styles such as balconette bras wouldn't be suitable. But, with the advent of contact prosthesis and lightweight breast forms, a far wider range of underwear is now available to women post surgery.

Nowadays, even strapless bras, providing that they encase the breast form and offer adequate support, aren't out of the question. Underwired bras There's lots of confusion about the suitability of underwired bras. If you wore this style of bra before your surgery, you may be able to continue to do so, as long as your scarring has healed, which usually takes a period of 12 months after surgery, and you feel comfortable.

However, it's always best to check with your breast care nurse or specialist postsurgery bra fitter. Underwiring will help support the breast form, but it's important to make sure that it sits on top of the wiring. If the cup is too small, the wire will press on the breast form and will eventually damage it.

How I Found the Right Bras After Mastectomy and Reconstruction | Self

So how do you dress to look good after a mastectomy? After breast surgery, it's common to feel less attractive. The sudden and enforced change to your body shape can lead to a loss of self esteem and confidence, which in turn affects your body image. Many women, even previously confident and stylish individuals, respond by covering up more, hiding themselves beneath dark, baggy shapes and layers. Clothes shopping for your new body shape can be a distressing experience.

Summer clothing, in particular, is difficult.

Dr. Shelley Hwang on choosing a double mastectomy

As for undressing in public, the very prospect of communal changing rooms is enough to deter some women. The key to regaining your confidence and feeling good about yourself is to stop focusing on your 'problem' area. Many women develop a distorted body image, believing that their breast loss is far more visible to others than in reality it is.

But, with the right breast form and bra, you can be confident that no one will know, unless you tell them. Don't be afraid to show off this area. Fight the urge to shy away from revealing necklines and eye-catching accessories. If you're concerned about high scarring or lack of breast tissue on your chest wall, then get a friend whom you trust to take a long hard look at you in your clothes and give you an honest opinion. If you've fallen in love with a dress or top but the neckline is too revealing, don't reject it out of hand. Make it less plunging with a brooch, or by wearing it with a camisole or vest top underneath.

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No one is expecting you to put on your party dress and hit the town. It might be a while before you're up to raising your arms above your head, and the drains and scar tissue will be uncomfortable. I suggest getting a pair that you can button up or tie in front: It will significantly help with the limited mobility. This is the time when as comfortable as possible is completely acceptable. If you miss dressing up, try an oversize men's silk pajama top and belt it: instant shirtdress. It features super-soft modal fabric, a front tie for easy dressing and a built-in drain management belt.

Reconstructed breasts in no way resemble natural breasts.

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Attempting to wear a top that used to give you killer cleavage may only end in frustration. This must be taken into consideration when choosing clothing. Your implants don't squish into things, and they don't move for you.

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I had to get stuck in a few items of clothes in dressing rooms to learn that lesson. Look for fabrics like jersey, modal or cotton that have natural give and are soft on your newly sensitive skin and scar tissue. Polyester may be forgiving on the wallet, but not so much on your now immovable breasts.

Anything with a little give is going to help mold to you, now that you can no longer mold to it. To compensate, look for wrap tops or flowy tunics. Both allow for room and are forgiving. When it comes to bras, you'll find that stretch materials are a must-have. Our super soft Molly bra , a pocketed plunge wire free bra, is made with softer-than-cotton modal fabric that conforms to your shape flawlessly and includes a pocketed design that works before and after a single or double mastectomy with reconstruction.

Keep breathing, and stay positive. No matter the advice I received, the first, second or third-hand insights others shared with me or the research I did beforehand, the first time I stood in front of a mirror afterwards, naked and vulnerable, I broke down, the shock of my appearance nearly undoing my last shreds of strength.

Changing your mind-set isn't always about changing your clothes; it can be as simple as changing your routine.

At first you may not be comfortable with your new morning prep, or may lack confidence in it. Find something to add to it that makes you feel good.

1. It's a work in progress, emotionally and physically

Maybe it's a mood-boosting song to sing along to, or a meditative practice that calms you and sets your intention for the day. Or maybe it's trying a new makeup look, or indulging in a fantastic body lotion that feels and smells great. Whatever it is, embrace it and go with it. Go loose, or try that new boho trend. Slip into something sexy, like a pretty Wrap Front Wire-Free Camisole with a gorgeous lace panel that's made to fit a flat chest post-surgery.

It is all about acceptance of your new body. Loose-fitting tunics or oversized tops are great, especially since they're currently in fashion.