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What Is A Mastectomy?

Let's find the answers to 'What is a mastectomy' and more!

Belle Lingerie08 February 2024

What Is A Mastectomy?

Mastectomies are typically recommended for sufferers of breast cancer, as well as women at high risk of developing the condition - but knowing the medical importance of having this procedure doesn’t always answer your questions about what happens afterwards.

What is a double mastectomy? 

Essentially, a mastectomy is a procedure where the breast tissue is removed, usually to halt the spread of cancerous tissues or to avoid tumours developing in the first place. Depending on the extent of the problem, it may be recommended to have a double mastectomy - where both breasts are surgically removed - or just a single one. Typically, all of the tissue of the affected breast is removed, alongside the skin and the nipple - but this can vary to a small degree depending on specific circumstances.

Another option for early-stage cancers is what’s known as breast-conserving surgery, where the tumour is removed alongside a small section of healthy breast tissue, leaving as much of the breast intact as possible.

Can breast tissue grow back after a mastectomy?

In situations where the whole breast, including the mammary glands, is removed, it is very unlikely that any breast tissue would grow back. This is because the mammary glands are responsible for the size and shape of the breasts - so if these remain intact, there is a possibility of regrowth. You should discuss this with your surgeon if you’re not sure how this applies to your situation.

However, it’s worth noting that breast reconstruction surgery is possible to restore the shape of the breast using other tissue or an implant. Alternatively, you can use prosthetic ‘bra inserts’ - an external prosthetic breast that fits into your bra to give the illusion of intact breasts.

What is a post-surgery bra?

Whether you’ve opted for breast reconstruction or not, you may wish to change the type of bra you wear in your everyday life to better fit your new situation. In the immediate aftermath of your mastectomy, you’ll be advised on when you can start wearing bras again, as it’s important to give the surgery incisions time to heal. And when it’s time, consider opting for post-surgery or mastectomy bras.

Post-surgery bras are designed to be the first bras you wear after surgery. They include features such as no underwire, soft fabrics and front-fastening hooks to help you on the road to recovery without irritating your skin or forcing you to stretch around to fasten your bra at the back. They can be useful for recovering from other torso surgeries as well as mastectomies.

A little later in your journey, you may wish to transition to a mastectomy bra. This type of bra often contains pockets to hold prosthetic bra inserts in place. Some mastectomy bras have a pocket in each cup, while others are designed for people who’ve had single mastectomies. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to check that the bra is right for you.

If you’ve had breast reconstruction surgery, either for a single or a double mastectomy, you should in time be able to go back to wearing your usual everyday bras. However, it’s always a good idea to remember to check the fit and, if necessary, measure your size again to make sure your old bras still fit you well.  

Alternatively, if you’ve not had breast reconstruction surgery and you’ve opted against using bra inserts, you might simply want an undergarment to wear to cover the area, without providing structured cup support. If that’s the case, then bralettes or crop tops may be the way to go. These are typically available in a wide range of sizes, styles and support levels, so you should be able to find one that’s right for you to help you feel elegant and sophisticated no matter what surgery you decide on.

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