Lingerie Options after Breast Surgery
By Elisabeth Dale
Are designers meeting the needs of breast cancer patients?
This October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month saw the launch of a new educational initiative to make women more aware of their surgical options after mastectomy and lumpectomy. This new BRA (Breast Reconstruction Awareness) Day was created because surveys showed that few women knew about their choices. And only one out of 4 women decide on breast reconstruction after a mastectomy.
This may be due to a lack of information but not all patients are medically eligible for such procedures. Radiation or other therapies that damage skin make some poor candidates for implants. Others don’t have enough extra body fat to rebuild lost tissue. Some women don’t want to risk the uncertainty of additional operations. In the majority of cases, these patients are left with two exterior prosthetic alternatives: (a) using a standard breast form that fits inside specially designed pocketed bras, or (b) buying a custom-made breast prosthetic that matches their former bust proportions.
It’s difficult to imagine the medical and bra fit challenges this group of women must face. But there are those working hard to meet both the functional and fashion needs of those who have undergone breast surgeries. Brands such as Amoena, Anita Care, and Royce have made it their mission to develop new designs in stylish swimwear, bras, and breast forms (available now in many sizes and made of lighter weight materials). Other manufacturers offer limited mastectomy bras within their lines. Woman can buy a fashion forward Marlies Dekkers mastectomy bra, or a pocketed Body Rock Sport bra. Veronica Brett, new to mastectomy swimwear, has created beautiful and innovative products that work to cover specific surgical sites and scars.
Surgical reconstruction wasn’t an option for my mother when she had her mastectomy in late 1960s. Doctors had not yet perfected the cutting edge techniques used today. But my mother’s breast form and bra choices were also very limited. That isn’t the case for the 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States today.