For a lot of women experiencing breast cancer, the removal of the breast or a mastectomy is a compulsory aspect of treatment. Yes, breast reconstruction is an option available to most women but some still opt to use prosthetics as a replacement for the missing breast/s.
If a patient chooses to use prosthetics, there are specialized lingerie known as mastectomy bras that could provide comfort and bring about the natural appearance of the breasts from the outside.
What is a Breast Prosthesis Utilized by Mastectomy Bras?
Breast prostheses are artificial breasts that are used to emulate the natural shape of the breast. Later they are inserted into mastectomy bras. Depending on the kind of surgery – whether lumpectomy or mastectomy – a woman can avail of either full or partial breast prostheses to balance the appearance of the breasts. The breast prostheses inserted into mastectomy bras are usually made out of silicone, fiberfill, or foam. They are worn inside mastectomy bras or attached directly to the body using special adhesives.
What are Mastectomy Bras?
Mastectomy bras are special bras designed to hold the breast prostheses’ weight. Mastectomy bras can be in a variety of colors, textures, and styles. They can usually be fitted at the same time as breast prostheses or can be done by professional bra fitters in most lingerie companies and high-street shops or department stores.
How Soon Can Breast Prosthesis and Mastectomy Bras Be Fitted?
Fitting of breast prostheses and mastectomy bras usually takes place around 6-8 weeks after surgery. Patients need to get permission from their attending physicians with regards to moving forward with the breast prosthesis and mastectomy bra fitting.
Will Insurance and Medicare Cover Breast Prostheses and Mastectomy Bras Purchase?
Costs for breast prostheses and mastectomy bras are usually covered by most insurance companies. As for Medicare, coverage is as medically necessary. To avail of such, patients will have to secure a prescription from their attending physician indicating their diagnosis and the need for either a left, a right, or both breast prosthesis and mastectomy bras.
Aside From Mastectomy Bras, Are There Other Mastectomy Clothing Available?
Several brands of mastectomy bras also offer clothes specially made for patients who have undergone breast surgery or are using breast prostheses. It is not impossible to find any type of clothing that have built-in mastectomy bras to offer additional support and room for the breast prosthesis including tank tops, swimsuits, T-shirts, and dresses.
Mastectomy clothing articles, like lingerie and swimsuits, have provisionary pockets to insert the breast prosthesis like in mastectomy bras. Mastectomy swimsuits usually have extra support for breast prosthesis. A mastectomy swimsuit also tends to rise higher in the back which allows women to wear it together with a mastectomy bra. Some brands offer specialized water-friendly prosthetic swim apparels which dry faster and at the same time has breathable fabrics.
On Breast Prostheses and Mastectomy Bras
- Should a patient post-surgery wear a mastectomy bra?
Patients do not have to wear specific mastectomy bras after a breast surgery such as lumpectomy or mastectomy. This is so unless advised by their attending physician or breast care nurse. When advised to wear mastectomy bras, financial assistance may be secured to be able to pay for it.
During the first few weeks post-surgery, most women feel particular sensitivity in their chest area, thus, wearing mastectomy bras that are not too restrictive is advisable. They may also opt for front-fastening mastectomy bras as they are easier to put on.
The type of mastectomy bras that a patient needs will change in the first year post-surgery.
- Will temporary breast prostheses be given post-surgery?
When a patient had undergone mastectomy without immediate reconstruction of the breast/s, a breast care nurse or ward nurse will usually provide fabric-covered temporary breast prostheses for her to wear meantime. The problem with these temporary breast prostheses is that it rides up because it weighs light.
Once the surgical scar area is fully healed and swelling has subsided – this is around 6 to 8 weeks after surgery – then a permanent silicone prosthesis can be fitted along with mastectomy bras to go with it if the patient wants.
Medical Reasons to Wear Mastectomy Bras
The short answer to the question of there are medical reasons why a patient post-breast surgery has to wear mastectomy bras, is “None.” There are no medical benefits to wearing mastectomy bras. A woman does not have to wear a pocketed mastectomy bra after undergoing a mastectomy or lumpectomy. She can do the following:
- Have her breasts reconstructed for her to keep on wearing non-pocketed non-mastectomy bras
- Leave breast as is and not replace them and go flat all the way
- There are cases though where the woman’s posture suffers because of the imbalance in weight between the left and right chest area. Women’s bodies are used to carrying some weight in the front chest area and if that weight is removed or shifted on just one side, the body may try to compensate by rounding the shoulders forward. Resulting in favoring just one side that over time, the constant strain can lead to pain and ROM (range of motion) difficulties.
How Does One Find the Perfect Mastectomy Bras?
Bear in mind the following criteria when choosing mastectomy bras:
- Comfortable and adjustable shoulder straps that can support the breast form without placing any strain on the shoulders
- Discreet, multi-option pockets that will hold the breast prostheses securely in place
- Cups that follow the shape of the breast prostheses to ensure the perfect fit
- Wider under-bands that give support and stability ensuring the prosthesis stays in place securely
- Variable hooks or fasteners that offer just the right amount of support
- Gently underwiring that is designed to follow the breast prosthesis’ curve without putting pressure on the breast scar area
It is important for women who have undergone breast surgeries to feel comfortable in their clothing. There are several salient differences between how mastectomy bras and typical bras are constructed. These differences make mastectomy bras more comfortable and fitting. To make sure that mastectomy bras fit right, have them fitted and checked regularly by certified professional fitters at least once a year. Lingerie companies offering mastectomy bras have professional fitters in their stores. High-street shops or department stores selling mastectomy bras often also have fitters that can give the right measurements. Also, follow the mastectomy bra care instructions to get the most out of the bras and maintain the breast form it gives.