tips for prosthesis fittings

Dear all,

Just thought you might find the following story useful. I had a right mastectomy for breast cancer in October 2004. I have finally got a few well fitting and pretty bras with which I can wear my prosthesis nearly 3 years later.

When I went for my first fitting for a prosthesis I took an old comfortable non wired ‘T shirt’ bra. This was fine for a while but once I started wanting pretty colourful bras I could not find any to fit. I tried some of the specialist mail order companies and although I found some nice bras the prosthesis never seemed to fit well into the pockets.
Then I got myself measured in House of Fraser and was told I was 32C rather than 34B (which I had worn for the last 20 years!). I then tried on every bra (honestly!) in House of Fraser and M&S but could not find anything which my prosthesis would fit into.
Eventually in desperation I went to Rigby and Peller in London (very expensive lingerie shop). The assistant there took one look at me and said ‘You’re a 32D’!!! I looked at their mastectomy bras with pockets which were all the standard black or white or skin colours and were very disappointing. However, I then bought a couple of very nice non-pocketed under-wired bras there in 32D (one pink and one khaki and violet). The I went back to my breast care nurse with my new bras and got a new prosthesis in a bigger size and different shape. Then I bought some matching material and got pockets made on the right side for my new bras. So at last after a long and exhausting journey I have 2 pretty bras which are a great fit and give me a much better shape than before.
Basically I think because I wore an ill fitting bra to my first fitting I had the wrong size and shape prosthesis all along and that’s why I could never find new bras which fitted me.

Recently I have ordered some bras from Amoena and Oops and Downes which are quite nice. However, very frustratingly hardly any of their bras come in 32D. I did ask them if they could do more styles in 32D but both of then said ‘No’! It’s a shame because Amoena have a few really lovely bras now, lacy and in nice colours. So if anyone else out there needs 32D pocketed bras please let the mail order companies know and maybe if there is enough demand they will do them.

So my tips are:

  1. When you go for your first fitting for your prosthesis take your best bras (not your oldest and most comfortable) and take a mixture of styles including at least one under-wired and one non-wired.

  2. If you have any doubts that you might be wearing the wrong size of bra, get measured by somebody who really knows about bras and buy the best new bra you can afford and take that with you for your fitting (as well as a selection of other bras).

  3. If you’re like me and can’t sew then it is worth finding a sympathetic seamstress/tailor. I have found somebody now and will be able to go back to her again. Initially she didn’t do the pockets the way I wanted them but I persevered with her and now she does them perfectly. A good way to get matching coloured material for the pockets is to buy those very cheap stretchy vest tops (in Zara or M+S) and cut them up.

Hope that was of some help. Good luck!

Rowena

Hi Rowena
Many thanks for the tips. I am having a right mastectomy in August. Am still slobbing around in maternity bras and have to find some enthusiasm for getting some new bras sorted so that I dont go down your initial route. I am not enthusiastic about this. But reading your message has made me realise how important it will be and Ill kick myself into action
Thanks
Jane

Hi Rowena

How right you are! I went for prosthesis fitting with a cheap t’shirt type bra which was very comfortable nonetheless! The BCN asked me my size so I told her 36B. She immediately said no you’re not and put a prosthesis in which was a perfect match. The same thing happened in the lingerie shop I went to for a proper fitting, in fact I measured a 36b but it was obvious that the 34b fitted better! However, when I tried on amoena mastectomy bras the prosthesis didnt look as good although it is had - I am now thinking I need a different prosthesis so might go back.

By the way I found the amoena bras are so comfortable I cant believe it! Ive always wore horrid cheap bras and never really treated myself to good ones - the side where I had my mastectomy and axillary node clearance is so much more comfortable now. You just cannot under play the importance of a good bra especially once youve had breast surgery.

Pauline