When you open your underwear drawer for the first time after breast surgery, you may notice that some of your lacy underthings don’t fit like they used to.
“When I underwent my bilateral mastectomy with reconstructive surgery, I quickly found that none of my bras that I owned before surgery fit my new body,” says Dana Donofree, breast cancer survivor and founder of AnaOno, which specializes in clothing for women with breast cancer.
After discovering that finding the right bra after breast surgery can be tricky, Donofree, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27, began designing lingerie out of necessity. She realized there were no garments available at the the time that were both pretty and comfortable. Her company, AnaOno, continues this mission of providing garments for women who have had breast reconstruction, breast surgery, and mastectomy.
Here, Donofree shares tips on what to look for when shopping for a new bra after breast cancer surgery, so you can feel comfortable and confident in your new body.
1. Find a soft bra that clasps in the front. “Initially after your breast surgery you may find [you have] a really limited range of motion,” says Donofree. You’ll want to find a bra that’s comfortable, and easy to get on and off.
2. Look for bras that are adjustable. “Try to find more adjustable items so if you swell one day, or as you start to recover, you can tighten or loosen it as you need to,” says Donofree.
3. Pick loungewear with pockets for your surgical drains. Following your breast surgery you may leave the hospital with surgical drains, says Donofree. “It’s great to look for items that will help you control or contain the drains so you can heal confidently. You might need an additional garment, either a camisole or loungewear that has pockets built in,” she says.
4. Search for a seamless bra. During breast cancer treatment, you may undergo additional therapies, such as radiation therapy. Breast cancer treatment side effects, such as skin sensitivity, may occur.
“Make sure you look for seamless garments or bras that have the seams hidden in between so that way there aren’t additional irritants up against the skin,” say Donofree. Finding a bra without side seams is also helpful for women who’ve had a lymph node dissection, a surgical procedure in which the lymph nodes are removed, since there’s often swelling and sensitivity at the surgery site.
5. Try a variety of styles and sizes. “Not every bra store has options that work for your new body,” says Donofree. “Try out a few new styles that maybe weren’t in your wardrobe or underwear drawer before.”
Having these tips handy when you’re shopping for bras can make a big difference on how you feel and how you want to express yourself following your breast surgery, says Donofree.
“You’re allowed to cherish your body as you did before you had breast cancer,” says Donofree. “Do what makes you feel good no matter what.”
Looking for more wardrobe advice? Here are tips on finding the right clothes and accessories after breast cancer surgery.