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    No.192: Breast Cancer Bras

    Breast Cancer Bras

    There’s a lot more to wearing bras with breast cancer than your first surgical bra. Your body and your needs will change after every procedure or treatment method. Whether that’s radiation, lumpectomy, single or double mastectomy, or even reconstruction. We want you to know that for any stage you are in we are here to help. From pocketed bras for forms to comfortable bras after reconstruction, we have the right breast cancer bras foryou.

    Niya pullover lounge bra

    What Is A Breast Cancer Bra?

    Breast cancer bras refer to a larger category of bras that you’ll end up wearing after surgery during your recovery. A mastectomy bra, a pocketed bra, and a post-surgery bra can all be considered “breast cancer bras.” Typically, breast cancer bras include additional support, can accommodate breast forms after a mastectomy, and some models may have extra compression to minimize bruising and swelling after breast surgery.

    What Is A Mastectomy Bra?

    A mastectomy bra is a bra specifically designed to wear after the removal of one breast (a unilateral mastectomy), both breasts (double mastectomy), or part of one or both breasts (partial mastectomy). Mastectomy bra features include underwire-free support, breathable fabric, adjustable straps, easy on/off closures, and pockets that securely hold breast forms in place. If you opt to have reconstruction at the same time as your mastectomy, you’ll want to consider a mastectomy bra with extra support to help keep your new breasts in shape as you heal. Don’t forget comfort -- since you may need to  sleep in your mastectomy bra, make sure you’re comfy around the clock as you wear it.

    Rora pocketed bra

    What Is A Pocket Bra?

    A pocket bra is sometimes used in place of “mastectomy bra” when describing breast cancer bra options. That’s because it describes the pockets in each cup designed to hold breast forms of all materials, sizes, and shapes. 

    What Is A Surgical Bra?

    Sometimes called apost-op bra, a surgical bra is designed to accommodate for your needs immediately after your procedure. Just like a mastectomy bra, a good surgical bra skips underwire, is adjustable, and is easy to wear. It may also include drain management to hold surgical drains securely in place during recovery.

    Bianca front closure sports bra

    When Should You Wear A Surgical Bra?

    Surgical bras are designed to wear immediately after your procedure. Typically, you’ll wear a surgical bra in the first two weeks after recovery, although your specific needs may vary depending on your surgeon’s advice. During this time, you never take off your surgical bra -- even to sleep. That’s one of the many reasons why comfort is key when  selecting a surgical bra!

    Can I Wear A Sports Bra Instead Of A Surgical Bra?

    While it’s not uncommon for some to swap a sports bra with a surgical bra, there’s a place and a time to do so. Some physicians will recommend wearing a sports bra after breast reconstruction because a sports bra can help hold your boobs in place while you heal (a process that can take months). Some procedures, however, will require a surgical bra simply to make life easier. For example, a sports bra won’t have drain management in place. For more information about what’s best for you, speak with your surgical team. 

    Bianca front closure sports bra

    What Is The Best Bra After Mastectomy?

    The best bra you can wear after a mastectomy is one that supports your new body while keeping you comfortable. While there are a ton of options out there, here are some of the features you want to look for while shopping for the best option:

    • Underwire-free. Ditch the stiff metal or plastic. Underwire can irritate your surgical sites and lay uncomfortable on healing wounds.
    • Easy to take on or off. After a mastectomy or other breast cancer surgery, you’re going to be sore and swollen. Struggling with a bra that pulls over your head or has hooks in the back is just what youdon’t want to be dealing with at that moment.
    • Adjustable. The ultimate fit goes a long way to keep you comfortable. Make sure that you buy a bra with adjustable straps so you can customize the fit as best as you can.

    What Is The Difference Between A Mastectomy Bra And A Regular Bra?

    Some of the key differences between a mastectomy bra and a regular bra include:

    • Coverage: Mastectomy bras will typically offer more coverage than a regular bra.
    • Pocketed: Mastectomy bras have dedicated places to insert and  securely hold the breast forms you choose (or don’t choose) to wear post-surgery.
    • Fabric: Mastectomy bras are often not molded like a regular bra. The fabric on these cups is designed to skim over and enhance your natural shape (or the shape of your breast form).
    • Band: The band on many mastectomy bras is thicker than a regular bra.
    Delilah soft lace bralette

    How Many Mastectomy Bras Will Medicare Pay For?

    Medicare provides partial reimbursement of between four and six mastectomy bras annually, or as many are medically needed. Private insurers may offer more or less coverage or reimbursement. Some plans cover the entire cost, while others only cover partial reimbursement. Read the  AnaOno guide to insurance reimbursement to learn more.

    Dana Donofree

    Dana Donofree

    Founder and CEO of AnaOno. After a diagnosis of breast cancer in her late 20’s, Dana took her own lived experience and fashion design background and (re)designed intimates for those that have undergone breast surgery. Dana’s story has been published around the world in outlets like New York Times, BBC, Huffington Post, The Today Show, and more.