Deciding what is the right thing for your body following a mastectomy can be difficult and complex. And given that this decision is often running simultaneously with the acceptance of your breast cancer diagnosis, it's fair to say, there will be a lot going on mentally, emotionally and physically.
Things are steadily changing in the world of post breast cancer surgery options for the better...while many choose reconstructive surgery to restore their breast, there is a growing movement of women who, feeling radically altered by their cancer experience, are choosing to accept their new body shape and remain flat. Others prefer to wear a prosthetic breast in their bra rather than have to undergo additional surgery. Some women opt for nipple tattoos to match the other breast as far as possible, while others are embarking on tattoos to conceal scars and boldly celebrate survival.
For us, who opted to remain partially flat (Sarah) and have reconstruction (Kate) we are honestly just delighted that there is more awareness and understanding rather than a one solution suits all approach often offered by male doctors with dare we say, a lack of insight and empathy. In order to aid the process of recovery on a physical, emotional and psychological level, consideration of all the options available to you is key. The important thing to remember when talking to friends, family, random strangers in the supermarket who ask impertinent questions (sigh!), your doctors even...is that it is your choice.
Today we'll talk a little about Breast reconstruction and your lingerie options, but we've further posts to come in the following weeks where we'll be exploring lumpectomies, remaining flat, and the alluring world of breast tattoos!
So what is Breast Reconstruction?
It involves recreating the breast to match the remaining natural breast as closely as possible. For women who are facing or have had a double mastectomy, surgery can rebuild both breasts. Typically, breast reconstruction takes place during or soon after a mastectomy, and in some cases, lumpectomy. However it can also can be done many months or even years after.
While it is impossible to know exactly how a reconstructed breast will look and feel, for many women the sense of some return to balance or restored sense of wholeness is huge and offers many positive psychological benefits to one's body image, confidence, self-esteem and innate sense of femininity.
It is important to be aware that nipple reconstruction is not usually done at the stage of breast reconstruction. Surgeons usually recommend waiting at least 4 months after breast reconstruction surgery to have nipple reconstruction or nipple tattoos. This will give your breasts time to heal and settle into a final position and allow for more accurate placement of the new nipple in comparison with the opposite natural breast.
You also have the choice to have a nipple tattoo, nipple prosthesis or no nipple at all - often this is where tattoos come in, to cover or enhance a scar.
General feeling is that after 6 weeks you can return to wearing an underwired bra but this will very much depend on your treatment, your scarring, your body and how it feels, or say, if you've had radiotherapy your skin could be more sensitive... there is no one rule for all. But, when it's time to cast off the heavy duty post-mastectomy bras and progress to something more whimsical and lovely (and reminiscent of the former you's going out-out bras!) here are some fantastic options.
Read on for our top picks for bras suitable after reconstruction, with support, clever technology and a whole lot of oooooh la la!
Simone Pérèle | Wish Triangle push-up bra
Your wish for more cleavage comes true! This exquisite embroidered lace bra gives you a boost with removable padding inside cups. Embroidered push-up bra with darling lace and jacquard satin with underwire. Available in black or positively angelic white, you can find it on our website here.
Megami | Victress Polka-Dot Bra
Don't be fooled by the retro look! this modern post-mastectomy bra is working hard behind the scenes to give you everything you need. A gorgeous bralette look with a seemingly revealing cleavage, it's actually incredibly secure and supportive. Translucent polka-dot black lace reaches into the shoulder, high over the smooth moulded cups. Available to purchase with matching briefs for a luxurious set, find it on site here.
Anita | Fleur Mastectomy Bra
The super soft fabric, teamed with beautiful lace makes this an ultra-comfy and pretty bra, whilst being incredibly secure. Two-section cups with breast form pockets on both sides ensure optimal support. Specially designed for Anita: the strap edges are extra soft. Available in four colours - Berry, Anthracite, Crystal and Black, find it on our website here.
Wacoal | Embrace Lace Soft Cup Bra
Adorned in luxurious floral lace, the Soft Cup Bra has pretty flower-adorned straps and a wide underband for anchorage and support. With the option to buy the Embrace Lace Brief or Boy Short for the matching set, this has definitely got the va va voom we like! Available in 3 colour ways - all divine, you can find it on our website here.
Love Rose | Lights Down Low Non-Pocketed Wire-Free Bra
This front fastening soft bra is a beautiful choice for a range of breast sizes and post surgical options. The ruched silk underband is not only sumptuous but also very supportive. It has inner support hammocks and supportive side boning which works wonders for that cleavage! The removable silk covered straps provide you with a number of style options so you can wear it whatever way takes your fancy - we love options! Available on our website here.
Fantasie's Anoushka Full Cup Bra, featuring beautiful embroidery (and that lovely sheer panelling for a hint of saucy!) offers full coverage and forward projection with flexibility of fit through a stretch neckline. One for our bountifully boobed sisters, it's available in sizes D - J cup. With the option of black or ivory, this seriously supportive, yet delicate looking bra is available here.
When it's time and you're ready... the lingerie you have 'from before' may not all work. Not only is your body different than it was before surgery but it will continue to change for some time. Whether you choose a bra specifically designed for reconstruction or post-surgical wear or are able to adapt an existing piece from your lingerie drawer, remember two things!
One, we're here to offer advice and support all the way, and two, you deserve to feel comfortable, secure and beautiful; taking self-care steps is an important part of the process of putting cancer behind you.
x Kate & Sarah