Controlled compression holds breasts in place and promotes healing after reconstruction. It can also prevent pressure points and tissue irritation.
POST-SURGICAL & RADIATION
Look for a soft bra with a front closure and no compression - this type is typically used for the first six weeks post-surgery.
After a six-week healing period, you can now shop for fashion and everyday bras with a pocket to hold breast forms and a high neckline for support and to cover scars.
WHAT SHOULD YOU PUT IN YOUR BRA?
Use breast forms/prosthesis - not tissue or bean bags etc. Depending on your surgery, different options are available with weight and shape variation adapted to your lifestyle activities.
WHY WEAR A PROSTHESIS?
• Restores body balance and creates a natural look.
• Makes your bras and clothing fit better.
• Helps prevent shoulder drop and shoulder pain.
WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?
• Weight balancing to match natural breast
• Lightweight options
• Partial prosthesis
• Symmetrical / Asymmetrical
• Swim prosthesis
• Active prosthesis
INITIAL BREAST FORMS
Initial breast forms are lightweight fibre. You don’t want to add weight and compression during the 6-week healing period. You will be able to adjust the size as needed to match your other breast for single-masectomy.
• Used after lumpectomy, lymph node removal.
• Can also be used several years after a reconstruction to match changes in your other breast - weight variation, gravity impact over time, etc.
• They help balance shape and create symmetry.
• Options for every shape and size - partial forms can be trapezoid shape or a shell of different weights to adjust to match the other breast.
• Schedule 6+ weeks after surgery.
• Ensure you don’t have any swelling to find a proper fit.
• No drainage at site.
• Must be completely healed: no wounds or bandages.
• Most fittings are more than an hour - call and book an appointment.
• Bring a fitted t-shirt to try on over top of bra.
Call ahead to ask questions and book your appointment. Find out if the retailer appears to be knowledgeable of various surgery types and treatment, if they carry a range of products and if they have a private atmosphere.
The average post-mastectomy bra is under $100, a prosthesis is $200 to $400. Depending on where you live, your provincial healthcare plan may reimburse some costs of breast prostheses. For private health insurance, it depends on the plan, but they often will cover prostheses as well as post-operative bras once per year. Lymphedema: People who are treated for cancer are at risk for lymphedema if they have lymph nodes or vessels removed or damaged during treatment. Speak with your doctor about treatment options and visit canadalymph.ca for more information.
Additional information about provincial funding for breast prostheses, click here.
There are many retailers across Canada which carry breast care products. Consider asking for recommendations from your cancer care centre, friends or family members, or try doing an internet search to locate the nearest in your neighbourhood. Remember to call ahead to book an appointment and ask questions. Do they have a private fitting room with a full-length mirror? Do they offer a range of products you can try? Do they seem knowledgeable? Can you book an appointment during a quiet time in the store?
Look Good Feel Better thanks Anita Canada for their commitment to the Breast Care Component of our workshop. You can learn more about Anita Canada and their retail partners here.
We hope the steps outlined here will help you find ways to manage the appearance-related effects of cancer treatment.
These steps are not intended to replace medical care in any way. These steps are meant to support the advice from your healthcare team. You should always consult your healthcare practitioner with any questions or concerns.