The Insider on Bras and Prostheses

By Crisann Olives-Celdran

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Most of us who choose not to do anything cosmetically after a mastectomy often find ourselves in
a predicament. Does losing a breast mean losing your style?

Most certainly not.

Many opt to use a prosthesis - an artificial breast form containing silicone gel that is fairly durable and
soft to the touch. When dressed or wearing a bra, this breast form will closely simulate the contours of a
natural breast and help maintain the body's balance preventing back, neck and posture problems.

Some variations in the market are made from nylon and cotton. Others use it in combination with tiny
glass beads that are said to give the form weight and balance.

Attachable breast forms have surfaced in the last couple of years allowing the breast forms to adhere
directly to the chest wall using a revolutionary gel or adhesive straps. This innovation has allowed many
to forego using a bra.

When choosing a breast form, make sure you get properly measured and fitted for this. The weight of
your breast form will have to be evenly matched to avoid your bra from riding up on one side.

After purchase, care for your prosthesis as if it were real skin. Wash it every day with mild soap, dry it
with a towel and keep it in its cradle to maintain its shape when not in use. With proper use, care and
storage, the breast form should provide you with years of comfortable wear.

BRAS

Option 1: Buy underwired, regular bras with full coverage that allow the breast form to fit securely.
If you notice that the breast form still shifts a lot when you move, create a fabric holder for it, much like a
pillow case and pin this to your bra.

A little word of caution: Make sure the pin is attached only to the fabric case and the bra and does not
come in contact with the breast form as this could puncture it. Better yet, sew in a velcro strip in the
cloth case and in the inside of the bra to ensure it remains in place.

Option 2: Simulate a pocket by sewing garters on the inside of the cup of your existing bra to keep your
breast form in place. Two diagonal garters forming a criss-cross pattern plus a garter that runs horizontal
should do the trick.

Option 3: Sew a make-shift pocket on the inside of your bra to accommodate the breast form.

Option 4: For small-breasted women only: Purchase regular bras that have built-in padding. Remove
the padding of the bra that corresponds to the non-surgical side. Some women do not even require a
prosthesis when using these bras.

Option 5: Purchase specially designed post-mastectomy bras. With decades of research, constant
development and experimentation, these bras are similar to the ones you've always used with the
addition of a built in pocket (usually made of cotton or mesh fabric) to hold the breast form securely in
place. Sturdy camisole-like straps help carry the breast form and keep it in place. Refer to the directory
in this book for variations of this bra manufactured locally.

The internet is a good venue to purchase the imported ones as well. In selecting your size, use the one
you used prior to surgery. Some companies will need to know the surgical side as well. For example: If
you are a 34B and were operated on the right side: Your new size for a post-mastectomy bra is 34B
right.

Exercising

When exercising, use a cotton bra and insert the breast form. If you have not added a pocket nor
simulated one, layer it with an athletic bra top to ensure that the breast form stays in place. The
specially-designed post-mastectomy bras allow the most movement, and is still most reliable for this
activity.

Swimming

For a creative approach to swimming after a mastectomy, be on the lookout for stores that sell bathing
suit pieces as separates. Buy an underwired bikini top, tankini top and any bottom you desire. Use
Options 1, 2 or 3 for your bikini top. Layer it with a coordinating tankini top with a moderate to high
neckline. This will afford you the coverage you need and help keep the breast form in place.

If you do not like the look of two different straps, bras with clear straps as a substitute for the colored
bikini top will suffice. A variation of this can be done for those who choose to wear one-piece bathing
suits too.

Regular bras with clear straps are also helpful when wearing tops with spaghetti straps. Strapless bras
are not recommended unless you are using the breast form that attaches to your body. The backless and
halter bras readily available in the market can also be used for clothes that require them. For loose or
low necklines, purchase a tube top and use this over your bra. This helps keep the breast form from view
and in place.

Our possibilities are endless. Be creative!

Crisann Olives-Celdran is a furniture manufacturer and a volunteer for the ICanServe foundation. She is a
breast cancer survivor.

Confianza (Authorized Dealer of American Breast Care)
E-mail: leonor@confianzabreastcare.com or lgopuco@yahoo.com
Mobile: 0920-981-3536
Landline: 828-1887
Website: www.confianzabreastcare.com

Fleeting Boobs (locally made weighted and soft pillows for bra pockets)
Email: healingfleets@yahoo.com
Mobile: 0917-832-3867; 0928-505-7194
Landline: 911-7695 (7am-12nn, 6-10pm); 911-9343(9am-6pm)