What is a Mastectomy and a Post-Mastectomy Bra?

A mastectomy is a common treatment for breast cancer that involves surgically removing the breast. A modified radical mastectomy is the most common type of mastectomy performed today. This procedure involves removing the breast, nipple/areolar region, and often the axillary (underarm) lymph nodes. Other types of mastectomies include simple mastectomy (removes the breast, with its skin and nipple, but no lymph nodes) and partial mastectomy (remove a portion of the breast tissue and a margin of normal breast tissue).

After a mastectomy, some women will be able to wear their regular bras with few or no adjustments. If the surgical area is especially sensitive after surgery, a bra extender can help increase the circumference around the body and make wearing a bra feel more comfortable. Bra shoulder pads can help prevent bra straps from digging into the shoulder.

If a woman chooses to wear a breast prosthesis that does not adhere directly to the skin, she will need to wear a special post-mastectomy bra with pockets for the breast form (special swimsuits also hold breast forms). Some women find that special sleep or leisure bras with or without pockets for a prosthesis are comfortable to wear overnight.


Who Should Consider a Prosthesis and/or Post-Mastectomy Bra?

Any woman who has undergone breast cancer surgery that has removed a significant portion of tissue is a candidate for a breast prosthesis, which often needs to be worn with a post-mastectomy bra. Many women do not wish to have surgical breast reconstruction after breast cancer surgery or decide to wait several months or years before having reconstructive surgery. For these women, breast prostheses and mastectomy bras are viable alternatives. 


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