Cancer? It only happens to others. A friend’s mother. A colleague from work. A neighbor. But in reality, these things lurk much closer than we think they do. And dealing with the reality of things when faced with cancer takes a huge amount of courage and hope. And when the organ in question is something that we all associate with our feminineness, it is a whole new ball game altogether. Thankfully, there are products in the market that help soften the blow a little and help you feel and look like you did before surgery. Let’s take a look at a few important things that you need to know about these.
1. You Will Need Different Bras For Different Stages Of Healing
In the initial stages, it is a good idea to use soft bras that are comfortable and not too restricting. And an even better bet would be to choose a bra that is easier to put on, like ones that have the hooks in the front, keeping in mind that your shoulder and chest may still be stiff. Also, initially, it’s better to choose bras without underwires and little detailing. There are mastectomy bras, specifically designed to give you comfort right after surgery, but even normal bras which fit well and have a full cup should work. Make sure you buy a bra that fits you on the last hook, so that as your swelling subsides, you can adjust it accordingly.
Try and find a store that has staff experienced to assist women who’ve had breast surgery. And if you are going to be using a silicone prosthesis, choose a bra that fits well, is supportive and doesn’t have underwires.
2. Take Time In Choosing A Good Prosthesis
There’re a variety of prostheses that you can choose from, available in different shapes and styles. And there are many things to keep in mind when choosing one for yourself. It is important to consider your lifestyle as well, before opting for a prosthesis that works best for you. If you’re very active, for instance, you may need a foam prosthesis that is lighter and cooler. There’s the standard prosthesis that can match the size and shape of your other breast. It goes straight against the chest wall from where the breast tissue has been removed. If you have had both breasts removed, you can choose the size you’re most comfortable with.
There are also partial prostheses, available to fill out the breast tissue that has been removed. There are stick on prostheses that stick directly onto your skin, in case you want to wear a strapless dress or have an active lifestyle. But these aren’t advised too soon after surgery or if you’re still undergoing radiation therapy. Your breast care nurse can arrange a prosthesis fitting for you, to help you choose the right prosthesis.
3. Choose Outfits Carefully
When choosing strapless clothes, opt for materials that give good support in the bra area, so that the prosthesis stays put. And if you think there isn’t enough support, use a safety pin and attach a softie inside the dress. Alternatively, choose a strapless bra or a bra with see-through straps. You can even choose dresses that are designed with pockets on the inside for prostheses. Try and avoid going braless for long. If you are someone who’s used to sleeping with a bra on, try a sleep bra which is soft and can be used with a softie.
There are also pocketed nightwear available to tuck your softie into. The softie can also be kept in place with a safety pin. Some specialist outlets also stock mastectomy swimwear, which is a great investment, if you swim frequently. Alternatively, choose a swimming costume that has a high neckline and enough underarm coverage so that it can hide the prosthesis well.
4. The Right Accessories Can Do Wonders
You can use bra strap extensions if you want to wear a dress with a revealing back, after your surgery. You can also find pre-made prosthetic pockets to sew into your pre-surgery bras, and continue to wear the same bras after surgery. Sometimes the doctors just remove the nipples as part of the mastectomy. You can get prosthetic nipples in such cases. These are made of silicone and are self-sticking. To cover any scars after the surgery, you can get camouflage make-up prescribed by your GP, that comes in different colors for different skin tones. There are skin camouflage services available, that advise people on how to best conceal the scars using makeup.