A mastectomy bra is a bra suitable for use after a woman has had a mastectomy (a breast removal), or lumpectomy (a part breast removal).
Depending on the type of surgery, and whether there has been a reconstruction of the breast as well, will determine the type of bra advised by the breast care nurse.
Generally, a mastectomy bra is a bra that also has pockets sewn into it, for a prothesis (a breast shape, either silicone or fabric), to sit comfortably. Some bras are manufactured with the pockets already sewn in, others have pockets added later.
Most bras can have pockets sewn into them, so just restricting a search to mastectomy bras, may limit the styles available in a particular size. For example, if you have one breast removed by mastectomy and you’re a 34G, you’re more likely to get a good fitting bra by having a pocket sewn into a bra of your choice. Very few manufacturers make mastectomy bras for cup sizes above an E or F cup. This is due to the amount of fabric required, and sewing of pockets, causing prices to be greatly inflated.
Mastectomy bras, ones with a pocket already sewn into each cup of the bra, are made so that the remaining natural breast fits into the cup as normal. The other side, where the breast is no longer there, will be filled with the prothesis, so that the bra and body shape looks natural under clothing.
When a bra is pocketed for a lady, only the side that is required is pocketed. The pocketed side would not fit a natural breast, due to how this type of pocket is sewn onto the bra.
Women are generally advised, after any breast surgery, to wear a soft cup bra – a bra
with no wires. All mastectomy bras are non-wired bras. Depending on the type of surgery, and/or follow up treatment, reconstruction or where scar tissue is, will determine the type of bra that is advised.
There are many mastectomy bras available, plus soft cup bras. Some may be more suitable for immediate post surgery wear, (where you usually get given a ‘softie’, a small very soft prothesis made from fabric and stuffed with cotton wool type fibre), being softer and higher. Others look like ‘normal’ bras.
If you need bra fitting advice for a mastectomy bra, before or after surgery, or even after your treatment has finished, seek specialist advice from a bra fitter experienced in mastectomy bra fittings. Your body will be changing all the time, so you’re likely to need different bra shapes and sizes.