Breast Cancer, Mastectomy, Reconstruction

How to Find a Post Mastectomy Bra You Love

Need help finding a post mastectomy bra you love? Having gone through a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction with implants I have learned so much about the world of post mastectomy bras, and how to feel confident after breast cancer surgery. I have seen so many women struggle to find bras that work well for their post mastectomy bodies and I am excited to. share my insight on finding post mastectomy bras that work for your body and help you feel confident.

Mastectomy Bra recommendations

The Mental & Physcial of Finding a Post Mastectomy Bra You Love

When it comes to finding a post mastectomy bra you love, everyone's body is unique. Depending on what type of surgery you have as well as whether you chose to go through reconstruction, the styles that work best may vary. While part of the struggle will be finding bras that fit your new body, the other aspect of the struggle will be mental.

It’s perfectly normal to grieve the body you lost and need time to come to terms with the changes. It took me over a year to heal mentally after my mastectomy and even now, 5 years later I am still experimenting with bra styles as my body changed during pregnancy. Don’t give up if the first post mastectomy bra you try doesn’t work for you. Like dating, it’s about finding the right fit and match for your new body. Let's jump into what to look for when shopping as well as all my favorite post mastectomy bras.

how to chose a Mastectomy Bra or after reconstruction

What to Keep in Mind When Shopping for a Post Mastectomy Bra

  • You will not have any breast tissue
  • Your chest will likely be more sensitive due to the lack of fat/tissue
  • If you had radiation your skin may be thinner & tender
  • You will no longer need a bra for support/lift *unless you had a single mastectomy and retained your breast on one side. But you may still like the feeling of a secure bra
  • Your reconstructed breasts (commonly referred to as foobs), will not fit move

Post Mastectomy Bra Shopping Checklist

In the sections below I will go into tips for each type of surgery and reconstruction, but this checklist is meant to be universal for post mastectomy bra shopping.

  • No underwire - to avoid any damage to the skin or extra pressure on your modified chest
  • Soft fabrics - to help with sensitive skin, radiation, hot flashes and other long term side effects.
  • Minimal seams - to avoid scratching/irritating sensitive skin or rubbing on scars.
  • Pocketed options – if you use a prosthetic or want to insert padding for scars.  Keep in mind you can also have pockets added by a tailor to any bra.
  • Thicker bust band – These ride up less on an immobile chest and are more comfortable on the sensitive upper abdomen area.
  • No molded cups –  these will no longer work for the immobile chest and can be uncomfortable.
woman wearing after mastectomy bra

Breast Reconstruction After a Mastectomy

Choosing to go through breast reconstruction is a very personal decision. Some women feel very defined by their breasts and reconstruction is an option to recreate the appearance of breasts. While the results will be completely different than natural breasts and in many cases the process can span many years.

Whatever you choose, you deserve to be happy with your body. As I go through the post mastectomy bra guidelines I try to break it down by surgery and reconstruction type as the things to look for may be slightly different.

collage of Mastectomy bras shopping guide

Should You Avoid Underwire Bras After a Mastectomy?

While I am not a medical professional, many surgeons recommend women avoid bras with underwire after a mastectomy because after surgery you may have little to no feeling in your chest, so you wouldn’t feel it if a wire were to poke or pierce the skin. In addition to this guidance, underwire bras are generally shaped for a natural breast. When you have a flat chest or reconstructed chest, you may find that the formed bra shapes no longer fits your chest and may cause discomfort. I personally avoid all underwire bras due to these recommendations.

Post Mastectomy Surgery Bras

After your mastectomy surgery, you will need to wear a bra with compression and support for a few weeks as designated by your surgeon. Unfortunately, the medical bras provided by hospitals and medical supply stores can be very ugly and super uncomfortable, but you have other options. I suggest looking at retailers like AnaOno (designed just for breast cancer survivors), Athleta,  & Nordstrom, which all carry front closure post-mastectomy bras. I also suggest googling small lingerie stores in your area which many times carry a great selection of mastectomy bras you can try in person.

What to Look for In a Post Mastectomy Surgery Bra

  • Front Closure - as your movement will be limited
  • Soft fabric/limited seams - to avoid irritiating the healing skin.
  • Adjustable straps - to help with removal and compression adjustment.

My Favorite Post Mastectomy Surgery Bras

finding bras after a mastectomy or reconstruction

Post Mastectomy Bras for Those with Implant Reconstruction

post mastectomy bra _black lace

When it comes to bras for implant reconstruction, I suggest using the shopping checklist above. Remember your implants will be immovable so you want free form shapes (no molding) and I personally like  light padding to even out my shape and smooth scars in thinner tops.

My Favorite Post Mastectomy Bras for Implant Reconstruction

Post Mastectomy Sport Bras

Choosing mastectomy bras_Sports Bra

While you likely don't "need" support during exercise after a mastectomy, I find it is still more comfortable to wear a supportive bra during high intensity exercise. Sometimes I get some nerve pain and having a tighter fit helps minimize the discomfort.

My Favorite Post Mastectomy Sports Bras

  • I really like this mastectomy friendly sports bra from Athleta. They also come out with new styles from time to time and many of their other styles are 'mastectomy pad friendly'
  • AnaOno also has a great sports bra called the 'Paige' but I will share that is is quite low cut
  • I also shop at mainstream stores for athletic bras/bra tops and just double-check that they meet all of my shopping criteria above. Since I don’t need support, it actually makes bra shopping easier in some cases. TJMaxx and Marshalls have some great soft sports bras that work well.
Choosing a post-mastectomy bra

Single Mastectomy with Reconstruction Bras

For women who choose a single mastectomy, you will likely be looking for bras that have support/lift on one side for your natural breast as well as some soft fabric for your reconstructed breast or flat chest if you. Your needs may vary depending on the type of reconstruction you choose (implants, DIEP or other options).

While many of the same tips I mentioned above will be helpful, you may also need to get a bra insert or use a bathing suit pad to help even out your chest. AnaOno even has a whole section of bras dedicated to those who opted for a unilateral mastectomy.

Turn Any Bra Into a Pocketed Mastectomy Bra

Another pro-tip I learned when I had a prosthetic for 6 months was that you can take your favorite bras to a tailor and they can add a pocket to them very easily. This same trick to be applied to your swimsuits if they do not come with a pocket for padding and is much cheaper than buying the custom post mastectomy bras or swimsuits.

Flat Friendly Post Mastectomy Bras

While I can’t speak to this option from experience, I have learned from others that you will want to look for bras that don’t have divets, formed cups, or extra fabric pockets. AnaOno has a page of bras that work well on flat chests and many of the bralettes I love from True & Co would work well on a flat chest. Another great way to get ideas for what may look best on your flat chest is to search hangtags like “flatandfabulous” to get insight from other women who share your surgery choice. Some of my flat breasties also recommended the knitted knockers over the medical grade prosthetics.

choosing a bra with no wire after a mastectomy

I hope this insight on post-mastectomy bras has been helpful. While I didn’t dive into swimwear in this post, I have tons of mastectomy-friendly swim guides on my blog. I update the posts annually with new options and share try-ons on my Instagram.  I’d love to answer your questions via email or on social media.

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Breast cancer survivor, lover of style, beauty and all things pink! Inspiring you to thrive through adversity. 

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