Fashion & Shopping

How Finding The Perfect Post-Mastectomy Bra Can Make A World Of Healing Difference

April 8, 2024

When it comes to recovery after a mastectomy, something as simple as finding a new bra can spark feelings of confidence and control. Soft and breathable materials, adjustable straps, front-closure options—these, along with professional post-surgery fittings—can also, crucially, allow for proper, and better, healing. 

Dr. Waqas Jalil, a plastic surgeon and co-founder of Form Face + Body in Toronto, says that after a mastectomy the chest undergoes significant changes, and a well-fitted bra provides essential comfort and support—which is where fitting specialists come in. More than a sales associate, an in-store bra-fitting specialist can help put post-surgery patients in the perfect bra—and get them feeling better about their bodies. 

Amie Heenan, owner of Toronto’s Melmira Bra and Swimsuits, is passionate about the process. “Being involved in their healing by finding the right garments to support them is incredibly rewarding,” she says. Lynda Barr, store director of Diane’s Lingerie in Vancouver, agrees, emphasizing the importance of offering support to folks going through this process. “Knowing there was a need for women who were feeling vulnerable and were faced with uncertainty surrounding post-surgery options is my driving force to help … in every way possible,” she says. 

Although compression bras or camisoles are worn immediately following surgery, the real excitement begins post-healing when women have fun exploring at speciality stores like Melmira and Diane’s. Each women’s post-surgery bra is unique, offering features like pockets, no underwires and full coverage— but some may opt for lace, underwire or strapless styles. “Women will often discover things about themselves and explore more interesting and diverse styles than they have ever worn, and this can be a very important part of her healing after breast surgery,” Heenan explains. 

For women who reject or are not candidates for reconstructive surgery, Dr. Jalil says prosthetic placements in mastectomy bras can be key. “Many mastectomy patients opt for breast prosthetics to restore symmetry,” he says. “Bras with pockets for prosthetics help secure and position them correctly for a natural look.” Barr adds, “Post-surgery pocket bras keep the breast form in place and, depending upon the weight of the natural breast, helps balance the weight, relieving pressure across the lower neck and shoulders.” 

For women like Laurie Grantham, a double mastectomy patient, who chose not to pursue reconstructive surgery, her fitting session marked a turning point. She worked with Melmira fitters to find styles that fit her body and needs after her incisions had healed eight weeks post-surgery, including custom ones. 

“The first experience was uplifting,” Grantham recalls. “I was delighted at the choices available and how beautiful the products accessible to me could be. Without a fitting consultant I would have never known nor explored and embraced these options.” In fact, she says her first fitting session was the start of a relationship with staff, and a turning point of her cancer journey. She remembers feeling a surge of emotions; indeed, finding the right bra becomes a statement of self-care, healing and empowerment. 

“It was like finding a place where an entire sisterhood was there for you, cheering you on,” she says. “And when I got my first of many compliments of how pretty my strap was peeking out of a summer shirt, or during a healthcare appointment, it was so nice to hear. Who would ever think I’d hear something like that?” 

Bras like the Amoena Lara Bra are great for everyday wear, while the Selena Mastectomy Bra by Anita with floral lace detail adds a feel-good factor. Both are popular options for those starting out. Grantham says she loves the colours as well as the details of bras from Marie Jo and Chantelle, as they are more fashionable. She says, “The bras I have now are more beautiful and fashionable … than I’ve ever owned. And that goes for swimsuits [Melmira] helped me select, too.” —Farah Khan


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