Sunday, August 23, 2009

How to Choose and Fit a Mastectomy Bra

As you all know my great passion is to make women feel good and I truly believe that an instant pick me up is Lingerie. It makes my heart ache that sometimes people that the most need things (like a pick me up) are unable to get it. Like plus size women finding nice bras, larger cup size ladies OR women who have had a mastectomy. They have to search high and low just to find one.

I’m going to change that!

They go into a Bra Shop that is full of teeny boppers and have to ask about finding a mastectomy bra and the teeny boppers make these women who are vulnerable enough as it is, make them feel like they are from out of space.

One woman I spoke to went into Australia’s biggest Bra Shop to inquire about finding a mastectomy bra and she left in tears because she felt like a freak as the “Professional Fitter” (I use that term very loosely) looked at her in disgust.

So I thought I would shed some light for these beautiful, remarkable women.
The world of mastectomy bras and prostheses can be daunting for breast cancer survivors. Breast surgery is difficult enough let alone trying to shop for mastectomy bras and prosthetics. It shouldn't and needn't add any further angst.
Fortunately, today's mastectomy bras have come a long way and they come in most of the same styles and many of the same colors as regular bras. However it’s not always easy to find them.

So what do you do and where do you start?

Start by getting fitted with a mastectomy bra and a prosthesis as soon as healing is complete after surgery. (Approximately 6-8 weeks). Prosthetics are sometimes known as "breast forms," and are typically made of silicone gel inside a soft, flexible shell. They come in a vast array of cup sizes and shapes in order to match as closely as possible to the existing breast (in the case of single mastectomy patients.) Mastectomy prostheses generally come with a nipple.

You may prefer to have custom prostheses manufactured. This can help produce a breast form that more closely resembles the remaining breast in the case of a single mastectomy surgery. Customized forms are obviously much more expensive.
Mastectomy bras are designed with pockets inside the cups. The prosthesis slips snugly inside the pocket. Choose a bra that fits correctly. A properly fitted mastectomy bra will ensure that the breast form rests firmly against the chest and doesn't slip from side to side, up or down.

Single mastectomy patients should choose a breast form in the same cup size as the existing breast. The right prosthesis will fit closely to the chest without any gaps. You may need to try several different shapes to find the best fit.
Double mastectomy patients can choose any cup size when it comes to breast forms. Most women feel most comfortable choosing prostheses that are the same as her former cup size. However, it is possible to choose a smaller or larger cup size if preferred.

It's usually recommended in this case not to go more than one cup size larger or smaller. It's also recommended to choose a shape that is most similar to your own breasts and that they still complement your body shape. This will help you to make a more natural transition.
Mastectomy bra manufacturers may use different cup sizing charts from one another. Even different styles of bras made by the same manufacturer may have different sizing charts. So just make sure you read their size guide but it’s really no different to how all bras sometimes differ from shape to shape and brand to brand. You can read this to find out about bra shapes.

HOT TIP- The correctly fitted mastectomy bra should-
•Rest firmly against body but will not cut into the skin.
•It should not leave marks or indentations in the skin after removal.
•It will hold the mastectomy prosthesis firmly in place. In the case of a single mastectomy, it will appear undetectable from the remaining natural breast.
•Whether a client has had one or both breasts removed, the mastectomy bra should feel comfortable, and most of all, should look good and make her feel proud to be a breast cancer survivor.

Where to buy them in Australia?

Upon my research I have spoken to the inspirational Colleen of Colleen’s Post Mastectomy Connection and let me tell you she has been there so she knows actually how you are feeling. That is why she allows one hour to fit you for your mastectomy prosthesis and bra. She takes great pride in her work ONLY stocking mastectomy ranges like Swimwear, Lingerie, Nightwear even wigs and stylish headwear. How awesome is that!

Where is she? Canberra ACT. Yes I know she needs to be EVERYWHERE! But people travel interstate frequently to purchase her range. Colleen has the largest mastectomy collection in the southern hemisphere.
Like any “Professional Fitter” a lot of the time you still get incorrectly fitted. Once Colleen has correctly fit you she will happily send you any future purchasers because she is frequently getting new beautiful collections in. Visit her

Did you know this! You can get up to $400 back! YAY….

The National External Breast Prostheses Reimbursement Program
The National External Breast Prostheses Reimbursement Program is a new Australian Government initiative to provide reimbursement of up to $400 for both new and replacement external breast prostheses to all eligible women who have had a mastectomy as a result of breast cancer. The $400 limit applies for each prosthesis for each breast.
The Australian Government’s reimbursement program will commence on 1 December 2008 with Medicare Australia administering the reimbursements. External breast prostheses purchased from 1 July 2008 will be eligible for reimbursement. Once a claim has been made, reimbursements for replacement prostheses can be claimed no earlier than two years from the date of purchase of the last prosthesis.
Medicare fact sheet (596kb pdf)
Women can access more information about the program, including eligibility criteria and claim form by:
•visiting the Medicare Australia website,
•contacting Medicare Australia on 132 011 (call charges may apply),
•visiting a Medicare Australia office.

If you don’t want to travel I recommend you visit they are a great Australian site it’s your “where to guide” that gives you ABC shop whereabouts in EVERY state.

Other sites you may wish to visit are
National Breast Cancer Foundation

McGrath Foundation

Breast Health is where I received the delightful reimbursement info


Jo Firth, Safe Breast Imaging said...

Great info! I would love to pass it on to my database.
Jo Firth
Safe Breast Imaging

Bra Queen said...

Hi Jo,
Thank you so much! A lot of research went into this and I was really surprised at how little information is available. Please feel free to pass it onto your database. It's information that I think is essential for these amazing ladies.
Kindest Regards
Renee xx

Lindy said...

What a nice job you did on this article! I'd like to add a few comments as someone who has had a single mastectomy. I went to the medical supply store BEFORE my surgery, just to look around and get an idea of what was to come. My first fitting was THREE hours (three one hour appointments.) I tried on 10 or more breast forms and as many or more bras. I returned the first prosthesis for a different shape and style. Breast forms can be very hot, so I ended up with one that has a cooling pad. The women I worked with were very experienced and did't make me feel uncomfortable. That said, it can be a very emotional experience; the first three or four times I went for fittings, I cried when I got back to my car. Weight flucuation can be a problem, as the prostheses is suddenly too big or too small. My prostheses does not have a nipple; instead I wear a nipple cover on my real breast so that both sides look the same. I also have a light weight prosthesis that I wear at home. I got the name of my fitter from the nurses at the mammogram clinic.

Bra Queen said...

THANK YOU Lindy for your sharing your experiences :) I am actually in the process of writing more posts on Mastectomy Bras :)

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