It is important to wear the right sized bra to fully support your breasts. A badly fitting bra can cause breast, shoulder, neck and back discomfort.
Your breasts develop and change throughout your life and finding the right bra can be difficult.
It may be helpful to visit a lingerie shop/department and ask for a trained fitter to assist you in selecting a suitable bra. Many fitters will measure you but this is only a guide. In order to find the right sized bra, that is comfortable and supportive it is necessary to try on many different sizes and styles.
Front and back bands should be at the same level and lie close to your skin without being too tight or too loose.
Wires (not recommended immediately after surgery) should lie flat on your breast bone and support the underneath and side of your breast without digging in or gaping.
Cups should fully encase your breasts. There should be no breast tissue bulging from the top or sides, and no excess of fabric.
Shoulder straps are designed to lift and support your breasts so that they sit against your chest wall, even when moving and exercising.
Try stretching and moving your arms to check. Whilst they should fit close to your body they shouldn't dig in and cause marks.
Bras unfortunately will only last a few months especially if washed frequently in a washing machine so they need to be replaced regularly throughout the year.
Investing in a well fitting bra is important, it will keep your neck, back and breasts healthier and give your breasts the support they need to help reduce any hormonal discomfort too!
For more information see the article "Your Guide to a Well Fitting Bra" from Breast Cancer Care.
All bras sold as "Post Surgical Bras" are not the same. Often these bras are multipurpose and contain a pocket for insert of an external prosthesis. This pocket has a seam that may indent and press unnaturally against a recently operated area ie, around your nipple or scars.
Post Breast Conservation, Reconstruction and Cosmetic Breast Surgery Bras - A well fitting bra will not just help support your breast and breast reconstruction. Swelling in the immediate period (upto 6 weeks) will be minimized if the breast is held in the right position and not left to gravity. Reducing swelling helps with healing and also to reduce any post-operative discomfort.
The bra should have:
An inexpensive well fitting sports bra from a supermarket maybe perfectly adequate in the initial post-op period (about 6 weeks).
You will need to wear the bra day and night, so it is advisable to have two.
Your surgeon and breast care nurse will help to advise you of the likely size bra you will need to bring into hospital for afterwards. Often this will be the same band size as you are currently wearing (or one band size bigger to accommodate swelling and dressings). Your new cup size may vary depending upon your individual surgery, so please check with your surgeon beforehand.
It may be advisable to bring in two or three different sizes and wait until after surgery when your team will be able to help fit the right one for you
Post Mastectomy Bras - This bra must obviously be comfortable for your remaining breast, but needs to accommodate a soft prosthesis that you will need to wear for a few weeks in the early post op period.
Eventually, once your scars have settled down, your breast care nurse will help fit you with a comfortable external prosthesis and be able to advise you of the best bra for you.
Good adjustability of the straps is essential so that both breast and prosthesis are equally supported and you feel as balanced as possible.
If you would like further help or advice please speak to a breast care nurse.