Fashioning Your Best Fit

Fashion advice from Hope Bear, Certified Mastectomy Fitter

This post was written by Certified Mastectomy Fitter and speaker at this month’s networking meeting, Hope Bear:

On June 7th LBBC came together as a group to better understand the benefits and products that are available to women who have undergone breast surgery.  If you have had a lumpectomy, mastectomy or reconstruction you might be eligible for four bras every year and a partial/full silicone prosthesis every other year.

“The night of the networking meeting, Fashioning Your Best Fit, I quickly learned that I was not the only person new to the information,” said LBBC Coordinator, Jenna Jackson who attends all of the networking meetings throughout the year. A networking meeting is a two hour educational meeting featuring a different speaker and topic each month. “Our two speakers, Hope Bear, CMF and Farrell Friedenberg, CMF, provided a lot of information on breast forms, bra types, and insurance options that many of the attendees were not aware of.”

When selecting a facility you should ask the following questions:

  • What insurance companies are they in network with?
    • If so, you are only required to pay your copay and/or upgrade.
  • Are they a preferred provider with Medicare/Medicaid?
    • If so, you are only required to pay your upgrade and deductible (if need be).
  • Can they do alterations, if needed, and are they included in the price?

“No matter what facility you select, you should always ask to see the product that would be the least amount of money out of your pocket,” said Hope.

Today there are many types of products available to you on the market and you do not have to sacrifice style, comfort, or fashion to look good and feel good on the inside and out.

“Hope and Farrell brought two tables full of samples for us to pass around. Throughout the meeting we were able to both see and feel all of the different types of bras, prostheses, and balancers,” said Jenna.

 

Typically, you will be released from your doctor 4-6 weeks post surgery to be fit for a bra and silicone prosthesis.  Prior to that time, you can wear a camisole that is made of soft cotton with a shelf bra that allows some support. This is a great addition to your wardrobe post surgery as well as for the future.  It can be worn around the house as well as under your clothes for additional comfort and modesty.  Depending upon your insurance, you are eligible for 2-4 camisoles.

Once your doctor has released you with a prescription to be fit, you should select a facility that you trust, respect and takes insurance.  The facility you use should be accredited and have certified mastectomy fitters on staff.  If they are not accredited, insurance will not cover the cost of the products.

“I found that most of the questions were on insurance. Hope and Farrell went into depth about what you should be looking for when shopping for your post surgical wear,” said Jenna

There are many different types of surgical bras depending upon your body shape and lifestyle. All post-surgical bras have pockets on both sides to keep the full/partial prosthesis safe and secure.  Below are some specific types of bras:

  • Soft Cup Bras:  These bras take the shape of your bust.
  • Molded Cup Bras:  These bras have a shape all to their own and you will take their shape.
  • Sports Bras:  These bras are specifically designed to compress your breast during physical activity and whisk away perspiration.

“Hope discussed all of the signs of a poor fitting bra. Many of the women realized that some of the discomfort they were experiencing was not caused by the prosthesis, but was in fact caused by wearing the wrong size bra,” said Jenna.

Not only is it important to select a bra that is comfortable; it is critical that the bra fits correctly.  Women are meant to have weight evenly distributed across their chest.  Bras are like jeans, every brand is cut differently so buy what fits; DO NOT BUY A SIZE!

Just as there are many types of bras, there many different kinds of silicone breast forms. There are several different types of weights and shapes depending upon your body style.  It takes a few different shapes and sizes to find the one that looks and works the best. It is important to explain to your fitter what your lifestyle needs are (do you like to swim, walk, play tennis, garden, vacation in warm weather, etc.) so that the appropriate prosthesis is selected.

The fitting should be a process as well as a discussion of your needs and lifestyle.  You need to be an educated consumer and you need to have an active role in your fitting.  Your purchase is part of you so be sure to take your favorite blouse or t-shirt to model your form and bra.  It is an important process and it should be given the time and respect which it deserves.

“I learned a lot in a short amount of time from our speakers. I would suggest that anyone who is in the market for post surgical wear listen to the Podcast on lbbc.org,” said Jenna.

To learn more about this topic and to listen to the podcast, click here.

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