As you might have gathered by now, every hospital does things slightly differently. I can only give you my experience. I was advised to purchase a particular bra and bring it with me on the day. I took it to theatre and the surgeon (or someone!!) put it on me, so I woke up with it on.
I have the expander which is in two parts. One part is already filled with silicon, the other gets gradually filled with saline to stretch the breast skin. Mine was filled with around 100ml saline in theatre and has been topped up twice since. When I woke up there wasn't a huge amount of difference between the new breast and my other breast so I haven't needed anything else other than post-mastectomy bras and now I am wearing sports bras.
NHS provision of prostheses, bras, wigs etc seems to vary so it makes sense to ask your Breast Care Nurse what the local arrangements are, as well as what to expect about how different your breasts are likely to be after surgery. It is her job to tell you these things.
11 sleeps from now (not counting really!) I am due to have a skin saving unilateral mastectomy with insertion of an expander. I wanted to have an immediate DIEP reconstruction but due to another 'minor' health condition which needs to be stabilised first, I was not a good candidate for the long operation. I am therefore having to have a two stage process. Hopefully, somebody will be able to help with my pre-op planning queries.
1) Will I need a bra to be discharged from hospital in or will I still be bandaged up?
2) In due course I will obviously need to support my 34 DD good side. What does anybody do about filling out the flatter side? Is there a prosthesis which will cope with the expander and its changing size as it is filled up?
3) Does the NHS contribute anything in this department by way of bra/prosthesis?
Thank you very much for your help. The friendliness and the support given by those on this forum is a big help as I start this journey (sorry for the cliche).