As prayers go out to Giuliana for her double mastectomy, some advice for her post surgery body.
By GalTime Stylist Jene Luciani
This month's Bra Gal column is actually inspired by someone who has been in the news lately. TV personality and host Giuliana Rancic announced she is battling the early stages of breast cancer at the age of 36. Shortly after making that announcement on NBC's Today Show and undergoing a lumpectomy, she returned to the morning news to share with viewers that she plans to undergo a double mastectomy and immediate reconstruction .
Since then, I've received several letters asking my thoughts on what Giuliana will face after her life-saving surgery, while adjusting to her new breasts. I actually tackle this topic in depth in my book, The Bra Book (BenBella, 2009), and have written several articles in the past on the advancements of breast reconstruction surgeries over the past few years.
Post-mastectomy bras are usually made of soft, breathable cotton and are adjustable to keep from irritating the surgery site. A post-mastectomy bra should not only be comfortable for sensitive and sore breasts, but should also be easy to move in, and help boost a woman's confidence after such a life-changing experience.
Unfortunately, most of us know someone like Giuliana who has had to undergo a breast removal procedure, or a mastectomy. This is usually done as a treatment for (or in some cases for the prevention of) breast cancer, which 1 in 8 women will get in her lifetime, according to American Cancer Society statistics. Here are my tips for Giuliana as she moves into this new phase of her life:
Some companies are even going that extra step to make these post-surgical bras more comfortable for women. Amoena's Hanna Collection is one of the industry's first to offer camisoles and bras infused with Vitamin E and Aloe to ease discomfort and promote healing after breast surgery. The company also has specially trained fit specialists on hand to help breast cancer patients find the best bra to meet their needs.
Vera Garofalo, post-mastectomy expert and program manager of Hope's Boutique at the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Insitute in Dublin, OH, strongly recommends visiting a "certified" mastectomy fitter, and I often get questions from women on how they can find one in their area. OandPcare.org offers a free searchable database. Such a fitter can help Giuliana as she recovers from her surgery and beyond.
Meanwhile, here are some general tips when shopping for a post-mastectomy and reconstruction bra :
The band of the bra should hook so it fits comfortably snug. Just like with regular bras, the recommendation is to fit on the middle hook to accommodate for the fabric stretching over time. You should be able to comfortably insert two fingers under the band.
The straps should be adjusted so that each breast is held securely and at a comfortable level. Straps should fit snugly without cutting into the shoulders; you should be able to get one finger under the strap. You may want to opt for padded straps for added comfort, or look for separate strap padding that can be attached, like Fashion Forms' Comfy Shoulder. She may experience some breast asymmetry post-surgery or the implants could feel heavier than her natural breasts (especially with swelling, so adjusting the straps are crucial for achieving symmetry between the two breasts and keeping the prosthesis secure. Proper strap adjustment also provides balance and support, important for alleviating back discomfort and dropped shoulders.
The cup should fit smoothly and completely cover the breast tissue, and neatly cover the surgical area. It should hug the chest without any gaping for optimum comfort.
Of course, none of this information should replace the advice of your physician. Any and all options and care for post surgery should be discussed with and monitored by your doctor.
And remember, if you are over the age of 35 and especially if you have a family history of breast cancer; ask your doctor if it's time for you to have a mammogram. It's also good to do self-exams at home so you can feel for any unusual lumps and bring them to the attention of your doctor. Early detection saved Giuliana's life and could save yours, too.
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