Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Bras" For Bilateral Mastectomy With Reconstruction

If you've chosen to have reconstruction at the time of surgery, you're not only going to wake up with bandages and drains but little "mounds" that may trigger awkward recollections of 7th grade gym class. The expanders that will be inserted are very firm and will definitely not require much in the way of support. When you're finally ready to brave the outside world, all you'll need is a layer of protection between your skin and your clothes.

My plastic surgeon gave me a cotton, hook & eye front bra during my one week post-op visit. It had cups created by shirring under the bust and brushed-back elastic trim all around the bottom edge. There was not even the faintest hint of fashion which was just fine: this was supposed to be a purely functional garment. Until I put it on...

I was immediately reminded of several articles I read about the famous architect Michael Graves who has been paralyzed from the chest down since 2003 and has since found himself redesigning everything from a patient's perspective that the medical world has failed to anticipate.  

You can read about Graves' endeavors here, here, and here.

Needless to say, the elastic hurt as it rubbed against my scars and the pressure created by the elastic's tension felt wholly medieval. Pain aside, the "cups" were just laughable as they were full enough to accommodate a generously sized, natural B but rather, protruded in a semi-stiff crumple of material when I put it on.

I pulled these camisoles out from the depths of my closet which i designed more than 15 years ago. The material is a buttery, Italian viscose/spandex microfiber jersey somewhat akin to a bathing suit but not nearly as thick or shiny and without that bandage-y, sucks-you-in quality that body shapers like Spanx provide.

I'm lucky enough to own them in 3 natural skin tone shades which go perfectly under every item of clothing I have. The same supple material is used for the straps and piping which is key; there is NO elastic anywhere to press against your very sensitive skin. These camis gently skim the body providing some light support and the best part is that you can step in and out of them rather than having to pull anything over your head.  

Look for tops without a built-in shelf bra or empire seaming which will land right on top of your scars if you've had a double mastectomy and save the cute bralets or anything lacy until your reconstruction is over and done with as it might itch and rub. Stick to the basics for now and consider these a wise investment for your burgeoning undergarment wardrobe.  I will continue to wear these every day even when your surgery is a thing of the past.

I also recommend finding something that might be a little bigger than you normally think an item like this should fit as you don't want any compression during reconstruction. When you reach your desired size they will easily stretch to accommodate your new shape and tighten up for a bit more support.

Finally, try and get the word "lingerie" out of your mind when shopping. My camis were actually part of a sportswear collection and walked down a runway during NYC fashion week with a matching sexy skirt.

Bottom line: buy what works and buy them before your surgery so you don't have to be burdened with shopping right after.

I've tracked down a few options that should work since sadly, mine are now considered "vintage."
buy here: Zimmerli // Cosabella // Gap Body // Splendid // Wolford

If you have any interest in buying my original version, shoot me an email...I'm working on bringing these cool kinds of things to market!


  1. You are amazing! Your blog is so inspiring....I am glad you made some good recommendations, but I think you should market your vintage ones. They sound perfect. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  2. This made it very easy since there is only one pharmacy in a 25 mile radius that can order them for you. I strongly recommend bali 2284