Common readers (and listeners) would possibly keep in mind Dr Liz O’Riordan. The guide breast surgeon’s world turned upside-down in 2015 when, aged 40, she was identified with breast most cancers. She joined me on the podcast final 12 months to speak about her expertise; from prognosis, to remedy and restoration. While chatting we spoke briefly in regards to the affect that having a mastectomy has had on how she feels about her physique (Liz doesn’t have a left breast and doesn’t put on a prosthetic) and the way she’s needed to adapt her private type to offset the lack of a breast. On the time I made a notice to return again to this as there appears to be little or no private and sensible recommendation on the market in regards to the challenges of dressing post-mastectomy.
‘It may be very laborious coming to phrases with a brand new physique form and picture after a mastectomy,’ she tells me. ‘It’s not simply the the lacking breast(s) that may have an effect on what you put on. For some girls, breasts conceal a tummy beneath, their absence could make it appear a bigger. Except you’re very slim, there may also be a noticeable bulge on the facet the place the breast used to merge into the smooth tissue beneath your armpit. These can create odd shapes beneath garments if a prosthesis isn’t worn. To start with I’d cry as I walked round shops with my shoulders hunched over, desperately in search of one thing which may disguise my uni-boob. I wished to cover in enormous saggy jumpers that usually exacerbated the asymmetry. Finally, I realised that no-one is absolutely me. I needed to be taught to like my physique once more and to put on what made really feel good as a substitute of worrying what different folks thought. Time is a superb healer. Now, I put on what I would like.’
Right here Liz O’Riordan shares eight suggestions and concepts for post-mastectomy dressing:
In terms of mastectomy bras, they must be full cupped to carry a prosthesis flat in opposition to the chest wall. Because of this plunging necklines and something low-cut will present the bra beneath (I struggled with this as a variety of my pre-cancer clothes had V-necks). An alternate is to put on a modesty panel or cleavage cowl that clips on to a bra.
I discovered hot-weather dressing actually laborious. Many mastectomy bras have huge straps – flimsy, lacy issues gained’t maintain the load of a prosthesis – which implies that the bra will present beneath strappy clothes. As an alternative I put on gentle vest tops beneath – in black, navy or white. Ones that include a variety of Lycra don’t experience up and create wrinkles as I am going about my day. Additionally helpful are these old-fashioned dress slips (like granny used to put on) that I discovered at good ol’ M&S.
Sporting a scarf, scarf or bolero over a strappy costume will conceal the bra, but this provides one other layer of clothes that is probably not ideally suited when the new flushes come (resulting from hormonal adjustments) – or if the climate is especially sizzling and humid. Experiment with what works for you since layers are good for each (physique)type and performance.
If you happen to select to go with no bra or a prosthesis, this presents totally different challenges. As a small-breasted girl, I’m fortunate that I can go bra-less, however I’d advocate nipple covers (material and silicone). There aren’t any one-sided bras that I do know of to help single breasts sans prosthesis. Though it may be expensive, firms like Buttress & Snatch could make a customized bra for you.
Re-addressing the (dis)proportion challenge… Tops with a fussy neckline can distract the attention: straps that tie in a bow or hold down, ruching, gathering or piping alongside a centre row of buttons. My dream high for hiding asymmetry has ruffles or flounces (sadly, each time I’ve discovered one I favored, the ruffle was on the incorrect facet – designers take notice!). If you happen to don’t put on a prosthesis, keep away from wrap necklines as they gape terribly on the flat facet. I’ve moved in direction of floaty, breathable materials (sizzling flushes once more) and experimented with bolder colors and patterns for extra smoke’n’mirrors distraction. Unfastened and drapey layers are additionally good.
There are days when I’ve cleavage envy, particularly at events when everybody glams up and I wrestle to really feel horny. It’s a lot tougher to seek out event put on now. Tailor-made clothes like fitted clothes and jackets – or something with an apparent dart – may be troublesome to put on as a result of what can’t be crammed out is extra apparent. Sporting waistcoats or open shirts and blouses works effectively. Usually, I keep away from strapless, stretchy clothes as they have an inclination to fall down with out two breasts. If you happen to actually love a elaborate costume, a corset-style high – if it’s tight sufficient and has some boning or shaping – can disguise a mastectomy so long as the fabric sits near the chest on the high. As an alternative, I like a jumpsuit. There’s no faffing about discovering a high that goes with a pair of trousers or a skirt, and no worrying about tights. Jumpsuits are a cool various to each day or event dressing and there are some very sensible, dressier variations in velvet or sequin materials out now.
An enormous necklace turns into a speaking level as a substitute of the garments I’m sporting. I search for closer-to-the-neck type statements, somewhat than as soon as beloved longer pendants. I gave mine away as a result of with out two breasts to maintain a pendant within the center, they simply turn out to be a nuisance. Whereas I’m not a shawl particular person, these may be nice in diverting the attention from a flat chest and including a splash of color to your outfit.
I additionally give attention to earrings and lipstick – or daring glasses and hairstyles – to attract the eye to my face, not my chest. When my hair grew again gray, some colors simply didn’t swimsuit my skin-tone anymore. Like Alyson, I needed to change a variety of my wardrobe and make-up. I like contrasts so [clothing-wise] I keep on with black, white, and navy with a pop of yellow or orange or inexperienced.
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