I have always hated shopping for bras. It is and always has been at the top of my list titled “Things I Hate To Shop For.” Panties being a very close second.
At a younger age (my late teens and early 20’s), I dreaded searching for a well-fitting bra. It was tough. I was actually between cup sizes. They were too tight, too loose, too small of a cup or too big. The underwire never fit in the correct placement of my breast – poking into my side or smashing into the breast. I had a hard time “winning” the bra fight. When I found one I liked, I would purchase at least one of every color. Two or three in black, white and beige to keep on hand.
Once I had my bi-lateral mastectomy, I either wore a sports bra or nothing. The expanders I had were hard and heavy. Going either with or without a bra was extremely uncomfortable. So, it really didn’t matter if I wore one or not.
When I had the implant replacements, I was told not to wear an underwire bra. Hearing that seemed like the end of the world. I rarely found a wireless bra that was able to fit me just right (before surgery was bad…after was worse), support the new girls, and be cute at the same time. Locating wireless bras in my community seemed like finding a needle in the haystack. We just lacked the demand. I often searched high and low when we traveled, finding it hard to locate bras I liked. I felt those sports bras I’ve been wearing for a while would probably be in my future for the long haul. (Sigh.) I eventually found a couple bras that worked. What did I do? I bought two of each.
Whether you are a breast cancer patient, newly out of treatment, or a long time survivor, we all know there are needs that need to be met when it comes to a bra.
1. Obtaining the right size for your new body:
Statistically, most women are wearing the wrong size of bra. Maybe they’ve been using the same size for the last twenty years. Maybe they just don’t know how to fit a bra properly. The first recommendation would be to get professionally sized.
Walk yourself into that bra store with head held high and ask for assistance. If you’re shy about your newly changed breasts, don’t be. These bra fitters have seen it all.
2. Wide comfortable straps make a big difference:
As someone who has had breast cancer, a mastectomy, and lymph nodes removed, finding a bra that has wide straps, or straps that do not dig into your shoulders, is imperative to help reduce the risk of Lymphodema. The same can be said for the tightness of the band around your rib cage.
3. Does it support the girls?
Supporting the new girls is an important aspect of bra fitting. Without proper support your implants may move slightly (one of mine shifted out of the pocket. It had to be manipulated back onto the pocket. The only time I was allowed to go with a bra was when taking a shower or bath. For 6 months), especially immediately after surgery. Just like natural breasts, exercising may become uncomfortable if they don’t have the support needed.
4. Does cup size matter?
Of course! Your natural breast were more forgiving when filling them into a bra cup. However, your implant will not be. Finding a cup size that fits just right not only supports your breasts, but will keep your implants in place.
5. Pockets to house your breast forms:
Many women who have a breast mastectomy may choose to not undergo reconstructive surgery. In those cases, some women will look for breast forms (prosthesis), which can come in many shapes, sizes, and weights to accommodate the look of natural breasts. Finding a bra that has pockets that fit your breast forms perfectly is imperative, otherwise, your breast form can rise up and move around. And might even expose themselves to the unknowing world.
6. Soft fabrics and seams vs seamless:
Women who have had a lumpectomy or mastectomy should pay attention to the material of their bra. If you are like me, you can’t feel much around the breast and your scars. However, if there is a seam that pokes out or fabric that is scratchy, you can open your scars without knowing it.
7. Underwire versus Wireless:
This topic is inconsistent with plastic surgeons. One surgeon may suggest wearing an underwire bra for the added support…while the next surgeon will suggest not wearing one. Your best bet is to talk to your surgeon to see what is recommended. Different surgery techniques, implants, and surgery incisions may require a different outcome.
8. Pretty and Sexy for you…not him:
I found that the pretty and sexy bras are the toughest to fit these new girls in. Lace and sparkle always makes a girl feel better. And I found the ladies at Victoria Secret to be the most helpful with this task. They want you to feel pretty and sexy in your new garments.
9. Comfort, comfort, comfort:
Most importantly, finding a bra that’s right for you should always include your comfort. If you find yourself trying on a bra that just doesn’t feel right, then it’s definitely not for you.