Fitting for Bras and Prostheses
It is usual for ladies to see their Breast Care Nurse on a regular basis as they recover from surgery. When the wound has healed, after 6–8 weeks, the patient will be measured and fitted with a bra and a permanent silicone prosthesis by one of the Breast Care Nurses, if necessary. This could be a full or a partial breast form or a shell. Nipples are also available and these are in varying shapes, sizes and styles and colours. Some prostheses can be lighter in weight and some are stick-on with adhesive pads. What is suitable will be supplied by Applegate Breast Care Unit at St Mary’s Hospital
Ladies who have had an operation to remove breast tissue, will be given a temporary soft prosthesis immediately after the operation and this is called a ‘softie’. This is made from a lightweight material and filled with polyester fibres. It can be inserted inside a gown, nightdress and a bra.
Breast Cancer Care have a very good leaflet on prostheses called ‘Breast Prostheses, Bras and Clothes after Surgery’ (leaflet BCC123). The leaflet can be obtained via Applegate Breast Care Unit or by the Breast Cancer Care website
St Mary’s will replace a prosthesis if you change shape by losing or gaining weight, or if the prosthesis becomes damaged. They are under warranty for 2-3 years. If one is damaged, the Breast Care Nurses will return it to the suppliers.
A spare or an extra prosthesis can be bought online or by visiting the retailers on the mainland (see online retailers).
Many of us found that after surgery, particularly a mastectomy, the area was swollen and sore and opted to buy an inexpensive soft bra without seams in a larger size suitable for the first few weeks. This bra could then be discarded later. We found shops such as Matalan and Sainsbury’s ideal for this.
After reconstructive surgery, some of us invested in a compression or post-surgery bra, whilst some of us used a maternity or sports bra. Front-opening bras were particularly popular as they were easier to put on, because movement can be limited after surgery. Do speak to your Breast Care Nurse to discuss what bra would be most suitable for you.
If a woman has been measured properly for a bra, a prosthesis can be worn next to the skin. A well-fitting bra should not allow the prosthesis to be seen and should stay in place in the bra.
Mastectomy bras are specifically made to hold a prosthesis or shell using a pocket inside the bra. The list of local stockists on the Island is shown below. However most large department stores now sell these specialist bras, albeit in limited ranges and sizes. Some of us found that the online retailers that specialise in mastectomy wear, offer the best choice of ranges and sizes. Whilst not an exhaustive list, nor specifically endorsed by us, names of many retailers are also below.
However, an alternative option is for a normal bra to be ‘pocketed’. For a bra to be pocketed, you will need a full cup not only to cover the prosthesis but also for the pocket to be attached.
Applegate Breast Care Unit offer a pocketing service at a cost of £5 and it takes approximately 4 days. Some lingerie shops and department stores will also offer a similar service. Alternatively, pockets can be purchased from many online retailers and you can sew them in yourself. Underwired bras can be worn if comfortable.
Another option is to sew ribbons onto the inside of the bra to hold a prosthesis in place.
Local Mastectomy Bra Stockists.
- Sugar and Spice
11a St Thomas Square and 60 Union Street
Isle of Wight Isle of Wight
PO30 1SN PO33 2LG
Telephone: 01983 525285 Telephone: 01983 614293
Trained staff in bra fitting and the shops carry a small selection of Royce mastectomy bras in varying sizes. However, bras can be ordered as necessary.
Isle of Wight
Telephone: 01983 523434
Trained staff in bra-fitting and the shop carry a small selection of M&S mastectomy bras from sizes 32B to 40DD. They also have a selection of full cup bras suitable for pocketing (although they do not provide this service). There is a wider range online and these can be ordered to store with no delivery cost.
- Ladies Realm
48 Regent Street
Isle of Wight
Telephone: 01983 539770
Trained staff in bra-fitting and the shop carry one style of mastectomy bra. Sizes from 34B-42D. Bras can be ordered in different sizes if necessary.
Other Online Retailers
Unit 1 Eagle Close
Tel: 0845 072 4023/02380 270345
7 City Business Park
Tel: 0845 265 7595
North Farm Road
Tel: 01295 220524
23 Shirwell Crescent
Tel: 0845 225 5080