U is for… Underwear

20 Nov

I love, love, LOVE lingerie. Pretty, sexy, silky, lacy colourful undies. And always matching. It’s my equivalent of a shoe addiction and I was not going to let breast cancer take it away from me.


For those of you who don’t know me, that is totally me in that pic. Just hanging out, looking gorgeous. For those of you who do know me, you may not be so easily fooled…

Your Breast Care Nurse and surgeon should be able to give you some guidance on post-surgery bras. Some just recommend a soft cotton non-underwired bra, sports bra or crop top post-surgery while others recommend a tight-fitting bra to squeeze the reconstructed breasts into shape and prevent seromas.

Lumpectomy – you should just be able to continue wearing your pre-BC bras and bikinis. You might want to wear a softer, non-underwired cotton bra, crop top (like a Genie Bra) or sports bra (maybe consider front-fastening if you’ve had a full axillary clearance) until you have healed fully and during radiotherapy when your skin can get a bit sore (see Z is for… Zapping those Cancer Cells – Radiotherapy), but apart from that no need to dump the contents of your undies drawer. Result.

Accessorize brasMastectomy with temporary expanders – Post surgery I wore cotton non-underwired front-fastening bras as I struggled lifting my arms due to full node clearance. During my expansions I wore pretty, non-underwired bras like this one from Accessorize. ASOS did similar ones. I didn’t want to waste money on bras when my size was constantly changing and these had enough stretch to allow for the expansions. I had both sides done together and therefore didn’t need any support as my new boobs were the ultimate definition of  pert and as the implants are under the muscle, they ain’t going anywhere no matter how much bouncy bouncing I do. However, if you had just one side done and need a bit more support, I imagine you could wear your previous bras (once you are fully healed) and use a prosthesis or chicken fillet in the smaller size until it reaches its full size. Once I was fully expanded I wore my previous underwired bras.

When your temporary implants have been exchanged with permanent implants or replaced with DIEP, LD flapTRAM flap or TUG flap (see R is for… Reconstruction) you will probably be more comfortable in cotton, non-underwired bras or crop tops such as Genie Bras after your op, but once you are fully healed you should be able to wear your previous bras – if you are the same size – or get fitted for a whole new undie wardrobe!

Mastectomy with immediate reconstruction – Again, you will want to wear a cotton, non-underwired bra, sports bra or crop top until you are fully healed, and consider a front-fastening one if you are having a full axillary clearance, but you will ultimately be able to wear your previous bras – if you are the same size – or get fitted for new undies once you are fully healed.

Mastectomy with no reconstruction – You will need a good, non-underwired bra with a pocket to hold your prosthesis and consider a front-fastening bra if you are having full axillary clearance as you may struggle to lift your arm for a while after surgery. If your pre-BC bras and bikinis are full-cupped and suitable for carrying a prosthesis you can get pockets sewn into them. Fortunately most department stores (such as Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and Debenhams) stock a wide range of mastectomy bras and bikinis, and have staff fully trained to measure and help find you a suitable bra.  Alternatively, Breast Cancer Care run lingerie evenings – providing a safe, relaxed environment with experts offering practical advice and support and other post-surgery women. A young woman local to me set up an online store called About The Girl  after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It offers a range of sexy and pretty mastectomy bras and bikinis. Other recommended online stores are Amoena and Nicola Jane.

Don’t forget you can recycle unwanted and old bras to raise funds for breast cancer research and that you don’t have to pay VAT on post-surgery and mastectomy bras and swimwear.

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