BRCA Surgeries: The Bra Problem

There is nothing like a bilateral mastectomy to mess up a girl’s wardrobe. I was looking forward to treating myself to new clothing of all sorts once the deed was done. There was some gnashing of teeth when I tossed several really nice bras that no longer fit, but I had known for months this was coming. The plastic surgeon had advised me to think of breast reconstruction as a process that requires multiple steps. I understood the complexity of mastectomy and DIEP flap reconstruction. What I did not know was that finding the proper attire for my newly minted girls would also come in stages.

Stage I – Nothing. This lasted for a good six weeks. Both breasts were rock hard, bruised, swollen and quite painful. A flannel pajama top or a t-shirt was my uniform. No need to worry about jiggling. Rocks don’t move. Besides, I had an area on one incision that wept continually and required a dressing. I referred to it peevishly as “drippy boob.”

Stage II – Plastic surgeon advised it was okay to wear nothing, or if I felt the need for a bra, to use a sports bra. There is no way in hell that worked. Too painful. An inexpensive camisole lined with a shell bra was tolerable. Physical therapy began and as the swelling diminished, both breasts softened but at different rates. One began to droop, the other formed a large pocket of saggy skin near the armpit. I had no nipples. Due to the nature of my surgeries and previous cancer treatments, there were very different scars on each breast. When I tried to wrestle these two mismatched boobs into a bra, it was an exercise in frustration.

Stage III – My current stage is limbo. In two months, revision surgery will change everything. A few compromise bras are in the closet, but their days are numbered. Who knows what’s coming next? In the meantime there are a few bras that have caught my attention:

The Ice Bra

The Ice Bra Cometh?

It seems the Japanese company, Triumph, sees the need for a bra that keeps ladies cool during hot summer months. This tongue in cheek response to the need for energy conservation in tsunami-devastated Japan comes with built-in ice packs and a small fan. I guess the fish tank design on the cups is just for fun? Given my breasts have little or no feeling, this icy thing probably won’t be on my shopping list but hey, I could always use another fan for hot flashes.

The Wine Rack

Have wine will travel

Some beer slurping boys at a company called The Beerbelly” have designed a sports bra that holds the contents of an entire bottle of wine attached to a tube for easy sipping. Ideal for sporting events or in my case, long waits in the doctor’s office. Wrong on so many levels, but my plastic surgeon could not quibble with the fact it is indeed, a sports bra.

The Joey Bra

The joey bra with pouch

Last but not least, a bra with a pouch. Shove that cell phone, ID and a credit card in the small pocket on the side of the bra and leave the purse at home. Two enterprising college students at the University of Washington have just launched this new line. Uh, sorry ladies, but there’s no way in hell I’m going to dig around in my bra when I get a phone call or want to pay for a latte.

For the moment, I’ll just keep dreaming about the perfect bra and continue to be patient while I wait for the next step in my boob building adventures.


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