Wearing a bra after a mastectomy

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When treating breast cancer, doctors may explore various options based on a patient’s symptoms and how far the cancer has advanced. In addition to radiation, chemotherapy and removal of the tumor (lumpectomy), mastectomy may be part of the treatment plan.
Personal and medical reasons have increased the number of mastectomies being performed. According to Harvard Medical School, mastectomy has been effective in curing or at least retarding early-stage breast cancer. And today, surgeons can reconstruct breasts quite well through plastic surgery. However, whether women choose reconstructive surgery or not, they may need a little help getting used to their new bodies and feeling comfortable in bras and clothing.
• Find a good fit. A large percentage of women may not be wearing the right bra size even before mastectomy surgery. After surgery, it is essential to find the right fit. A good mastectomy bra fitter can help a person find the right size bra for her body and a shape that feels the most comfortable. Certified mastectomy fitters may be found by doing a little research and may even be covered by insurance.
• Discover your style. Depending on scarring or where tissue was removed, some women may need particular bra styles, such as a camisole or a fuller-coverage bra. Once correct measurements are taken, shoppers should try a variety of different bra styles until they determine which ones feel the best in terms of support and coverage.
• Consider a breast form or prosthesis. Women who have not had reconstructive surgery can wear an artificial breast form after mastectomy. This device helps balance the body and can offer a better bra fit on the side of the body where the breast has been removed. These prostheses come in different materials and can be custom-designed to provide a similar feel to natural breast tissue. Some forms adhere directly to the body, while others will fit into the pockets of mastectomy bras. Women can be fitted for a prosthesis around four to eight weeks after surgery.
• Change bras and prostheses regularly. Many women do not know that bras have a shelf life. The average bra should be replaced every three months to a year. Prostheses should be replaced every one to two years, says the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
It can take some time for a woman to be comfortable with her new body after mastectomy surgery. Getting the proper fit for a bra can help improve confidence and help women feel better in their clothing.

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