What you wear after a mastectomy is so important! Before I had mine, I had to prep the type of clothing I had to wear when I come home from the hospital. Let me tell you they were not cute, but at that time I just needed convenience. The surgery I got was a bilateral (double) mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. My surgery lasted about 9 hours. Ugh, the thought of it already sounds painful. The week before my bilateral mastectomy, I had a sentinel lymph node surgery. Essentially, they took out the first 4 lymph nodes and did a biopsy to confirm if cancer has spread to that area. The biopsy confirmed negative and that is how I was a candidate for immediate breast reconstruction for the following week. I’m not sure if this is a typical process for bilateral mastectomies, but this is what my breast surgeon’s process.
5 Reasons Why What You Wear After A Mastectomy Matters
There are a few reasons why what you wear after a mastectomy matter.
Lack of Mobility
After surgery, you’ll lose A LOT of your mobility and upper strength. I remember when I attempted to put on a t-shirt and it was difficult to put on because of my limited range of motion. So you definitely want something that you can easily slip on and slip off. Think of choosing clothing with open front tops (like a cardigan), buttoned shirts, or wrap dress.
Lack Of Flexibility
Lack of mobility also comes hand in hand with lack of flexibility. I could barely stretch my arms out or up. So the thought of putting on something that has to go over my head seems impossible because you can’t lift your arms over your head.
Your chest area will be swollen if you have expanders or had immediate breast reconstruction. So my chest needed something that was roomie and loose fitting. Depending on your surgery, you may need to wear specific mastectomy bras. I recommend talking to your surgeon prior to making any purchases. For me, I was told not to wear a mastectomy bra and after a few weeks, they provided one for me.
Access To Drains
Those surgical drains will be there with you for at least a couple weeks. My final 2 drains (I had 4 total – which I believe is the most common) were there for 4 weeks ugh. Which means you need easy access to the drains. Something to hold them together so they won’t get in the way and so you can also easily drain them out.
After a major surgery which basically amputates a part of your body, you’ll be in a lot of pain. So putting on and taking off clothes is a hassle. Definitely need something you can easily slip on or something that someone can easily slip on and off for you. Therefore, you just want to feel comfortable.
My Post-Mastectomy Clothes
As I mentioned earlier, my outfits post-mastectomy were not cute. Overall, I didn’t mind. I wore something that was lightweight and breezy (for all those hot flashes – thank you cancer side effects) yet very comfortable. I wore these type of pants. And I also went to Target to wear these types of pjs (I also owned floral ones too) that have buttons. Also, I went up a size so that there was room for my chest.
However, when I finally got the okay to leave my house (I was basically bed-ridden and was restricted from doing anything) I did not like my clothing options. I couldn’t wear my normal button shirts because they wouldn’t fit. My chest was still swollen. The only option I had was my buttoned pj tops. And I had no where else to place my drains. I either let them just hang out on each of my sides or try to safety pin it to the inside of my top. But of course, you can still see the bulge of the drains.
So it definitely added on that feeling that I didn’t feel like myself. Dressing in something I love gives me a boost of confidence. To me, a good outfit is a like a super power. I’m shy and reserved but when I have an outfit I love, I feel more myself and I feel more confident.
What To Wear After A Mastectomy Without Losing Style
Over the Summer I discovered the brand With Grace B. Bold, and immediately loved them. With Grace B. Bold is a fashion brand that focuses on post-mastectomy clothing. The founder, Megan, has a background in fashion designing and after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, she wanted to create something that combined fashion and function.
After experiencing and seeing her mom’s challenge post-surgery, she was inspired to create something that she believed would help breast cancer survivors after their mastectomy. She created a garment that is functional post-surgery and at the same time stylish.
Let me tell you that if I just saw these With Grace B. Bold pieces hanging on a store’s clothing rack, I totally would have bought them! It’s so my style! And knowing that they serve a function makes me love them even more! These wraps are seriously the best thing to wear after a mastectomy without losing style. I wish I had them when I had my surgery. I truly think it would have helped me with my confidence.
With Grace B. Bold kindly loaned me these pieces.
With Grace B. Bold Pieces
The Ann Elizabeth is for sure perfect post-mastectomy. It comes in the colors Warm Grey and Black. In this post, I’m wearing it in black. The reason that the Ann Elizabeth is perfect for mastectomies and breast surgeries is that it has pockets for the drains! The built in drain pockets makes it easier to keep them secure and out of the way. As you can tell in my photos, you can’t see any bulging. I borrowed some drains (not attached to me) so I could test out if they really work. And it totally did!
The Eileen is slightly different from the Ann Elizabeth because it doesn’t have any pockets for drains. This is great for surgeries that don’t require drains afterwards. This wrap can be used so you can easily take on and off your top. It also comes in the color Warm Grey and Black. I wore the Eileen in Warm Grey.
Both wraps are incredibly soft! It’s made with natural bamboo fabrics so it soothes and doesn’t irritate the skin especially after radiation. I’m sure you all know due to treatments, you’re experiencing sensitive skin.
I’m seriously obsessed with the style. It’s so chic and it helped me feel good about myself!
For sizing, I do think they run big. I normally wear a size small and I am wearing an XS for both tops. For reference, I’m 5’4″ and my chest is 32C. I usually wear a size small or size 4 in tops.
My Outfits – Tips On What To Wear After A Mastectomy
I wanted to create 2 different outfits so you can see how versatile the With Grace B. Bold’s wraps are.
The first outfit is a dressier outfit, and I’m wearing the Eileen in the Warm Grey color. I paired it with sailor wide-leg pants and Marc Fisher pumps. These wide leg jeans fit true to size. These Marc Fisher pumps are one of my favorites! The block heel is what makes wearing heels very comfortable. My cousin doesn’t wear heels often and I convinced her to buy the same exact ones. This is now her go-to pair of heels!
The second outfit is a very casual outfit. I’m wearing the Ann Elizabeth in the Black color. This is the one with the interior drain pockets. The jeans I’m wearing are the Authentic Stretch denim (ankle length) from Everlane. Everlane’s Authentic Stretch denim are the stretchiest jeans ever. They’re not jeggings at all because they are made with denim. They’re so stretchy that someone demonstrated doing yoga in them. However, they never lose their structure or get stretched out by the end of the day. I dedicated a post about these jeans last year. They fit true to size.
If you’ve been following me, you know all I do is talk about Naturalizer. And guess where my white sneakers are from… Naturalizer. If all their dressier shoes are comfortable I knew I just had to try on their sneakers. LOVE THEM! Definitely comfortable sneakers without looking chunky. White sneakers are in and you can basically wear them with anything. I’ve worn them with dresses & skirts. They fit true to size.
Hopefully this post was helpful. I hated how I felt after my mastectomy. I felt so unfeminine and hated that I didn’t feel myself. But know that you are not alone in this. Having breast cancer is already bad enough and the experience we have to encounter that goes with surviving is a whole other layer of challenges. But know that you just have to keep believing in yourself and do what makes you happy. For me, it was fashion.