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Choosing The Correct Post Mastectomy Bra

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The most common error in fitting is choosing a loose bra band in the name of comfort and a small cup size in the name of modesty.  This actually results in a poorly fitted bra and most importantly, a very uncomfortable one. 

A mastectomy bra, apart from supporting the natural breast tissue is required to house the breast prostheses securely. A poorly fitted bra can severely effect how comfortable it is to wear your breast prosthesis.

The following are key tips for evaluating your bra fit. Evaluate each of the component of the bra according. I recommend that you do this while standing in front of a mirror.

CUPS:  if there are wrinkles or an excess of fabric in the cup area, the cup size is too big.  Breast tissue should be fully contained within the cup to give a smooth, natural silhouette.  If there are visible bulges at the top or sides, or if some breast tissue shows at the front or underarm, then the cup size is too small.  You may also want to choose a bra style with a higher front section to contain the entire breast tissue.

BACK: one very common problem is with the back of the bra riding up or the sides feeling loose; in this case, the band size is too big.  The band of the bra should stay comfortably in place, parallel to the floor.

BAND: a properly fitted bra will feel comfortably snug, yet allow sufficient room to breathe and to slip a finger between your skin and the bra band.  If the bottom band digs in, your band size might be too small.  A common mistake we see often is women wearing bras with a narrow bra band – the wider the bra band the less pressure will be placed over the chest wall. This is also an important tip for women who had a number lymph nodes removed. 

Try securing the bra at the loosest hook & eye adjustment or change the bra band size for a larger one.  If the bra moves constantly, the band is too big.  We often think a loose bra is more comfortable but it’s actually the opposite; if the bra is comfortably snug, you will forget you are even wearing one! 

The bra band further plays an important role in supporting the weight of the breast prostheses – correctly fitted, the weight should not rest on your shoulders but on the bra band.

STRAPS:  If the straps are digging into your shoulders, the bottom band of your bra is probably too big and is not supporting you properly.  Try a smaller band size.  On the other hand, the bottom band could also be too small if the straps are slipping down your shoulders. 

The straps can loosen during the day or after washing, and you should ensure they are adjusted properly first.  Remember, it’s the bottom band of the bra that is mostly supporting your breasts and your prosthesis; the straps are there to keep the breast tissue or breast prosthesis close to the chest, not drooping down.  

You can also try bras with wider or cushioned straps.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any bra fitting problems. You can reach me on info@themstore.co.za ; alternatively locater the closest M Store branch to you and let one of our certified fitters assist you in finding the perfect fit.

Let’s talk soon!

Cindy.

The M Store – Certified Fitter

First Fitting Experience by an Cindy Eriksen-Miller

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For women who have undergone surgery for breast cancer, the first fitting of a breast prosthesis can often be another stressful experience that they hadn’t accounted for. However this need not be the case as there are any number of wonderful professional mastectomy fitters and boutiques such as The M Store available. They  can advise and guide the woman through this process to help them find the right prosthesis. 

We recently spoke to a fitter, Cindy Eriksen-Miller from the M store Hilton, Kwa Zulu Natal. They have been supporting women with breast cancer for the past 4 years . We sat down with her to help us answer some of the more common questions that many women have in relation to their first fitting. 

Why should I go to a professional fitter?

It is important to go to an experienced and properly trained breast care fitter who will measure you correctly.  A professionally trained mastectomy fitter will have received specific training in fitting post-surgery bras and breast prostheses. She will understand that the two (bras & breast prostheses) go hand in hand and need to be fitted at the same time. 

They will also understand the varying nature of breast surgeries and will be able to advise on best-fit products and possible consequences following breast surgery. An ill-fitting bra can cause back and neck strain which can result in chronic long-term pain. Ill filling prostheses and bras affect women’s comfort and confidence, causing clothes and jewellery to pull to one side, just to give one example.

I have recently learned I require breast surgery, how can a fitter help me?

It is best to be properly measured before your surgery in order to get a comfortable medium support bra to see you through the post-surgery stage and even the treatment (especially radiotherapy) phase when comfort is a priority. A fitter will be able to advise on the best bra to suit your size, surgery type and personal preferences. A properly fitted post-surgery bra will be more comfortable and will help in restoring confidence.

How soon after my surgery can I be fitted for a prosthesis?

For fitting a more natural feeling silicon prostheses, it is important to let wounds heal and allow the swelling to subside completely to ensure the best long term fit. This is usually 6 to 8 weeks after surgery.

There are however immediate post operative prostheses that is reshaped and is made from fibrefill. This will assist with reducing swelling and provide you with breast symmetry.

Do I need to book an appointment?

Most fitters advise people to make an appointment so that you have adequate time to try on different styles and not feel rushed. Bring a form fitting top in a plain colour for the final fit, allowing you to observe your resulting beautiful shape and symmetry.

I am still body conscious following my surgery, is the fitting clinic discreet?

Absolutely, our private fitting rooms are behind a closed door with a private changing area within. The fitter is there to measure you and select the best items for you. She can assist you in choosing or leave you to choose alone. Our service is totally confidential. This is standard practice for all fitters.

Is it ok for me to bring a friend/sister/daughter along with me?

Yes. This can be a great support.

How long does a fitting normally take?

We advise allowing an hour, which gives plenty of time to look at lots of options and styles and to try them on. We believe in choice and selection.

Do I need to wear a special bra with my prosthesis?

Yes, mastectomy bras have pockets which hold the prosthesis securely and comfortably in place against the chest wall. This allows free and confident movement. There is a wide range of styles and colours to choose from.

How do I look after my prosthesis?

You will look like yourself again no matter if your breast surgery was conservative or extensive. You will be able to wear most or all of our clothes so don’t give away your low cuts or body hugging dresses! We have lots of tips and tricks to help with all surgery types.

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