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Everything breast cancer patients and survivors need to know about bra fittings

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, there are so many unknowns, so when it comes to post-treatment bra options, pre surgery consultations of recommended so that you're prepared for everything. This is often the scariest time for a woman, and a consultation is both empowering and comforting, offering her information on what to expect, and the garments that will help with the healing process, both physically and emotionally.  It's recommend you go with your partner or a friend so that you have a support system. The consultation can be as brief or lengthy as you need, whatever a woman is ready for.

While every woman’s situation and preferences are unique, there are general guidelines to follow as it relates to mastectomies and lumpectomy, breast forms and reconstruction.

Buying a proper surgical bra before the operation is crucual, as it can be placed on the body after the surgery worn home for optimal comfort. 

The Anita Salvia Front Closure Bra is a fantastic option. It's made of high quality cotton and micro modal which is a natural fiber, providing outstanding comfort and breathability, which is key as it is to be worn for 4-6 weeks

The front closure is important as after surgery, as arm mobility is restricted.  Wide toweling fabric band under breast preventing lymph build-up, which is risk after surgery.

Drain pouches can easily be attached (for drains temporarily inserted after surgery) and it has pockets to hold breast forms.

Another option is a leisure camisole, which is often recommended for the initial period as it is soft and light. Both of these garments are generally recommended for 4-6 weeks, but some women graduate from them much sooner as they feel they have healed and are ready to move on.

4-6 weeks after surgery

Once a woman feels healed from her surgery,  that is when it's time to personalize the fitting to a woman’s taste and lifestyle.

I have been a part of this experience many times in my career, and I’m telling you, it is a very important part of the healing process, and while this sounds like an exaggeration, it can be truly life changing. 

Now, it's important to know that just because you have to wear a breast form does NOT limit you to surgical bras! 

When might this be the case?  If you want to wear something a little lower cut in the center or a little sexier. Or if your breast really need support that a surgical bra cannot offer, or if psychologically you are used to a certain look and feel, and want to maintain that, you probably can! By altering a bra by adding a pocket for a prosthetic, virtually any undergarment can be worn post-surgery. A bra and panty set by Prima Donna called Dhalia is a perfect example of what can be customized for you. 

Having said that, surgical bras have come a long way in terms of comfort, support, and beauty and you may be happy with the options readily available. 

Breast forms

There is a lot of talk about reconstruction these days, and it is a big decision that many women will ultimately choose, but breast forms are a wonderful non-surgical alternative, and they’ve come so far the last few years. 

I would argue that the most important part of the fitting for a breast form is the bra itself!  Once the bra fits, the prosthesis fits in effortlessly.

Breast forms restore symmetry.  So it’s important to have the right weight, in order to balance out your spine. If you’ve had a bilateral mast, then you get to choose your size! Equally as important is matching the drape (fullness) and shape. 

Swimwear

Being fitted for a bathing suit is daunting at the best of times.  After breast surgery, the anticipation can be even more difficult. 

My goal is for all women to leave feeling not only very normal, but very special. The hardest part is choosing what to buy, but it can be so very healing.  I love this full piece bathing suit from Shan for a few reasons. It's called “Do you think I’m sexy,” which is a beautiful analogy to what we all want to ask in a bathing suit! 

This is an example of a current trends which allows for a much wider selection for women who have had breast surgeries.

This tankini by Sea Folly and this bikini by Jets are other examples of wonderful swimwear that women can wear after a mastectomy that doesn’t have to be surgical and doesn’t have to be a high neck. 

Important resources for recovering breast cancer patients

Going through breast cancer is physically, emotionally, and financially very traumatic for a woman and her support system.  There are options as it relates to government funding, taxation and insurance that can help off-set costs of some of these products through recovery.

Every two years the government sponsors $195 towards a breast form (or two) or $105 towards a partial breast form. Within that two year time frame, woman are entitled to one replacement if their needs change, and they are under warranty within the two year time frame. 

If a woman has had breast cancer, she will no longer pay tax on her bras, as they are deemed surgical.  Lastly, insurance usually covers between 2-6 bras per calendar year, so it is very important that women refer to their policy. 

All products featured from Melmira boutique

Anita pink sports bra,  $130

Post-operative bras: Anita Salvia $120  |    |  Amoena Hannah post-operative camisole, $80   |  Amoena leisure form, $50

4-6 weeks after surgery:  Amoena Lara Satin t-shirt bra, $64  |  Anita Versailles surgical bra,  $115  |  Mari Joe Dahlia, $195  |  Mari Joe Dahlia panty, $96

Swimwear: Shan “do you think I’m sexy” high neck, $350  |  Jets Bikini (dark purple), top $105, bottom $85  |  Seafolly tankini, top $206 and bottom $77

Melmira has created a discreet and comfortable environment for women that have surgical needs. With our service, selection, and extensive information, we help with the healing process for many women. Melmira has connected with hospitals across the city to ensure we have the right product and information for our customers. Regaining confidence and feeling feminine are a priority for us.