I'm so sad for you. It seems that unless you conform to what they expect you are on your own. To suggest to someone who has just had surgery that you can swivel your bra around is completely thoughtless. Even without drain tubes it would be impossible. My breast nurse told me I didn't need a special bra I would be able to go home in my original underwired bra fortunately I ignored her and I'd bought a post surgery front fastening bra. I too found it a struggle, small back big boobs, but I couldn't possibly have coped with the one I wore pre surgery.
The bra pockets look quite simple to make, just 2 pieces of shaped material, maybe if you're handy you could make some in your size and go back to your normal bras. I'm still struggling to find the perfect, comfortable, solution but I feel like I'm getting there slowly.
Good luck and don't despair.
@Sue Pat Great that you've had good service from them. I bought the largest of the Nicola Jane bra pockets to amend one of my bras myself. Unfortunately they are much too small for what I need. As are their bras. Sadly, that has been my experience of all mastectomy bra companies. It's like big boobed women aren't allowed breast cancer. It makes me feel like a freak.
I asked the BC nurse on my first visit whether mastectomy bras are even made in my size because I hadn't been able to find any online, and she said: "Of course they are." Sadly that wasn't true. The hospital didnt even have a surgical bra to fit me after the op, and they couldn't work out how to fasten on me the front fastening bra I had bought (in order to obtain anything non wired and front fastening I had to sister-size up in the back and down in the cup multiple times, which meant half fastening the bra above my natural breast, pushing the breast up from underneath into the cup and then contuing to fasten it to the top - they couldn't work that out and I was too stoned from the GA to understand what they were doing wrong). So they sent me home in my own back fastening bra instead, saying it would be fine and that it could be done up from the front and spun round to the back - but they forgot that the drain tube doesnt allow that. The next day I spent an hour trapped in it crying in agony, and the band became stuck above the drain tube exit wound. It was a dreadful experience. There are also far fewer prostheses to choose from in my size which is a big problem for getting a shape or texture that's even slightly symmetrical. 😞
@Sue Pat - yes I too have found Nicola Jane excellent, lovely customer services too. Xx
Talking bras and fittings etc I've found this a really good company to deal with https://www.nicolajane.com/mastectomy-bras/ If you are handy with a needle they also sell prothesis pockets so you can sew them into a standard bra.
What a terrible experience, @delly If someone doesn't know How to do a fitting on a woman who has had a mastectomy, especially given there are both medical and emotional needs to take into consideration, they really ought to be honest and say that they're not experienced in that speciality. Otherwise it's not only cruel but potentially harmful if, for example, the customer doesn't know that underwires or vertical boning might not be safe at their stage of treatment. I'm so sorry you went through that. But really pleased that you eventually found an organisation that know their stuff and could really help you.
Yeh @SnorkMaiden - Womanzone are in Warrington. I used them for after both my mastectomies (live in the Manchester area, so it wasn't far), so can also highly recommend them. Lovely bunch of ladies. My ops were 2006/07, and you could make an appointment for a fitting, so gave you their full attention. Made me feel so comfortable and not at all awkward whilst standing topless, measuring me up and fitting me with some lovely bras. Treated myself to a number of matching briefs too. Came out feeling a million dollars. Then I used to just mail order bras from them, knowing what styles and sizes were best.
Was a totally different experience to my 1st bra fitting at a local lingerie shop, that had been recommended to me by a fellow member of the breast support group I used to attend. Don't know why, think she knew the owner. Because the assistant I saw had no idea how to fit a mastectomy woman? Kept bringing me allsorts of highly unsuitable bras to try, balconette style ones and such, that nicely showed off my prosthesis!!! I got more and more upset by it, that in the end, I just said "Thanks, but I'm going to just go", got dressed, and left. It was just a few weeks after my 1st mastectomy op. Found it soo upsetting, I burst into tears when I got outside, and I'm usually quite a tough cookie. NOT a good recommendation or experience.
Obviously it's very different with all this Co-vid business. Makes it all that much more difficult for you all. Plus if you live a distance away from somewhere you can go to have a proper fitting.
Hope you're all coping and doing well.
Sending lots of love to you all, Dellypoos xXx
@Evie-S (and anyone who would like their own bras pocketed to take a prosthesis), below is a link to the company I've been using. I've no affiliation to them, just a customer who can't get mastectomy bras off the shelf in my size. They will put pockets into non-wired and wired bras, even sports bras and swim suits. I don't know if there are other companies that offer this service too - although I know that Royce (who make non wired bras in a wide range of sizes) will pocket a new bra bought directly from them.
Woman Zone (same company that pockets your own bras) will also add pockets to new bras bought from their own website (they sell a few different brands but only a handful in GG+ cup sizes) and they make bespoke pocketed swimwear for smaller bust sizes too, apparently) They offer virtual fittings (which I had), ABC brand prosthetics and bespoke prosthetics created from a body scan, I think up in the Warrington area. The body scan service I think might be rather expensive though.
Here's a link: https://woman-zone.co.uk/bra-swimwear-pocketing-service
Well done, @Sue Pat That's some excellent lateral thinking using a scrunchie!
@SnorkMaiden - I‘ve just read your really interesting post about bra/prosthetic fitting. How good that you found someone to give you some proper advice, and I really hope you get a solution very soon. I‘ve also struggled with getting a prosthetic to match, one that was comfortable too, and so at the moment am using some breast forms which seem to work for me. I think others will be really interested to read too about the company that fits pockets in your bras.
All the best for your continued recovery. Evie xx
Yes 6 weeks post surgery now and things are settling down. I got a one to one fitting for my prothesis at the clinic so it's a perfect match and mostly I'm loving it but I do find in the hot weather I get really hot and uncomfortable under it. Not found a working solution yet but I've discovered that an unraveled scrunchy inside the cup of my swimsuit works a treat so I'm ok for holidays. They dry quickly and can be left in place so no messing about every time I change to a dry swimsuit, using this technique I've even managed to save a few of my pre mastectomy swimsuits.
I've been buying bras online because there isn't much choice where I live, I'm sending back almost all of them. I've kept the odd one I've thought was ok and then after wearing discover it gets really uncomfortable after an hour or so. I'm hoping this will calm down over time. I've been through my wardrobe and taken out anything I know I can't wear now but I'm finding some things that I didn't like so much before now look ok!
It's definitely a learning curve and sometimes it's like floundering around in the fog!
Thanks, @Impatience I took your advice regarding determinedly sticking to the exercises and I'm so glad I did. I've thwarted a couple of areas of vertical scarring inside that were becoming restrictive, and my shoulder has a better range of movement than it did before the operation. Hopefully it'll stand me in good stead for radiation to the area.
How are you doing?
Hi @Sue Pat . Sorry for the late reply, I lost the forum for a couple of months! I hope your surgery went well. How are you feeling at the moment?
My surgery went smoothly. I still have some seroma but the wound itself seems to have healed well. In terms of living lop sided, I am finding it a bit difficult. Mostly trying to disguise it with tricks with my clothing. The prostheses I've been given aren't a good match for me in either size or shape. However something unexpectedly good came about recently. The company that pockets my bras (Woman Zone) phoned me just to take payment for a bra and I asked their advice about why I might be having difficulty getting enough symmetry to hide the size difference through even baggy clothes. Off the back of that, they offered me a virtual bra/prosthetic fitting online over Zoom. It was really helpful and made me realise that both the size and shape of my current prosthesis isn't a good match for my natural breast, and that alternatives exist.
Although they sell prostheses themselves, they suggested I contact my BC nurses again to explain the solution proposed, and my BC nurses have asked their prosthesis rep to get in touch with me. So hopefully I'll eventually find a reasonable alternative and can just do a straight swap for free via my hospital for the original one they gave me. Fingers crossed the works out.
How are you getting on with bras and prosthetics, and finding clothes you like to wear?
I go in for my surgery tomorrow, also single mastectomy and I've opted not to have a reconstruction I'm 36DD.
You will have had your surgery now I would love to hear how you are coping and if you've found any solutions.
I spent some time searching Google for images of single mastectomies. I've seen some awful sights and some really inspiring sights and stories. I've been totally inspired by pictures of people who have had tattoos, this won't be for everyone and I've never considered a tattoo before but it's an example of how women embrace the treatment rather than let it define them. Looking at the pictures also helped me to visualise how I might look after. I'm hoping having done this that I won't be so shocked when I see the scar.
Above everything else remember you are part of a group of women who have survived and have a wealth of knowledge to help you. In this age of the internet we are never alone even when we think we are.
I hope your surgery has gone well. I am 9 weeks post surgery left side mastectomy.
My way of coping was to put all my energy into feeling well. It’s important that you move your arm and do the exercises. I really concentrated on this rather than the loss of my breast.
Once the dressings/drains were off I was shocked at how I looked, however most of how you look is due to bruising and swelling. How I looked 9 weeks ago is vastly different to how I look now. I wish I’d have realised that at the time so hang in there.
I am now wearing a bra with a softee in (awaiting my prosthesis). Surprisingly it is comfortable and I forget it’s there. It took a couple of weeks to get used to but you do.
When I felt low I told myself that I’d rather be fit and well with one breast than be ill with two breasts.
Wishing you a good recovery.
PS there are some lovely bras out there too!
Hi @SnorkMaiden - first of all, welcome to this forum and I hope you will find some answers. I had a single mastectomy but also had reconstruction at the same time so I can‘t properly answer your question, but I didn‘t want to read your post and go past without commenting.
Have you done a search across the forum? The search box is just above here, but make sure you change the grey box to search Forum, not just this board. You should find others who have had a single mastectomy and who haven’t had reconstruction. I don’t know if you are on Facebook, but I believe there is a group called Flat Friends on there, and may be elsewhere too.
I am happy to answer any other questions about mastectomy if you have any. I also wish you all the best for your surgery on Wednesday. Evie xx
How do you come to terms with such a drastic change to your body? I've always been big up top (36HH), and I'm not allowed reconstruction, so I'm going to be massively lopsided in size, weight and how my body moves.
For those of you who have had a single mastectomy without reconstruction, how have you emotionally come to terms with it? My surgery is on Wednesday.