Wear­ing a bra af­ter a mas­tec­tomy

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BREAST CANCER AWARENESS -

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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