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11th October 2017

Bras for after surgery

If you are about to have breast or chest surgery, it’s crucial to find the right bra to take into hospital and wear in the weeks immediately after your operation. Whether you’re having breast reconstruction, augmentation, reduction or chest surgery, a supportive, wirefree bra will provide the gentle compression, support and breathability that will help your surgery site heal without any irritation.

Fit for purpose

Have you had a bra fitting lately? It really is worth taking the time to have an expert fitting before you go into hospital. Not only will it ensure that your bra is beautifully comfortable, but an experienced fitter can also help ensure that the band won’t be too tight immediately after surgery and that you allow for your increased or decreased cup size (where relevant).

The majority of Royce stockists are trained bra fitters who will be happy to ensure your post-surgery bra fits just as it should, but if you can’t get along for a fitting before you go into hospital, here are our top tips. 

- The band of the bra should fit snugly around your ribs and not ride up at the back

- Your breast(s) should be fully enclosed within the cup of the bra, with no bulges or wrinkles

- However, if you are going to have breast augmentation or reduction, allow for the cup size you will have after surgery (with some space for post-operative swelling)

- Fit your bra on one of the middle fastenings, giving you the chance to loosen or tighten the bra if you need to

- If you wear a prosthesis, fit the bra to your natural breast and make sure the bra is supporting it well – especially if you have recently lost or gained weight

What to look for in a post-surgery bra

Depending on your procedure, your surgeon will talk to you about the best style of bra to wear after the operation. Some surgeons advise wearing a sports bra – probably because they offer light compression, seams or underwiring. However, many believe it’s best to wear a bra that is specifically designed for the immediate post-surgery period.

Two bras in the Royce range are suitable for wearing straight after surgery – the Comfi-Bra and the Silver post-surgery bra. As well as being wirefree, they also have light compression to help reduce swelling and promote healing and front fasteners for ease of access and dressing. With high cotton content for breathability, the Comfi-Bra is ideal to take into hospital and wear home and, because it is so soft, it’s an ideal sleep bra too.

The Silver bra is specifically designed to help care for your surgery site. It contains real silver fibre, which has anti-bacterial properties and can aid the recovery of scar tissue. The lower edge of this bra is designed to fit well below the root of the breast so that it does not irritate surgery scars, which is particularly helpful if you’ve had breast implants. Other clever design features include front fastening for easy dressing and access to surgery areas, ‘magic’ straps with touch and close fastening for simple adjustment and perfect comfort, and double layer cups for added support. 

Hello world

After your six or eight week check-up, you will be free to choose from a much wider range of styles.We would still recommend wirefree bras, however, as these will gently expand with you throughout the day, ensuring no restriction of blood-flow to your surgery site and keeping you cool and comfortable. There are so many styles to tempt you that shopping for your new shape can be a real treat!

 

6th October 2017

Valerie's story

As you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We spoke to breast cancer survivor and Royce ambassador, Valerie to get her experience of breast cancer from beginning to end.

 

Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2011. Before getting checked, I didn’t feel a lump. The only thing I noticed was the side of my breast felt tender to touch. A bit like it’d been knocked or something. I ignored it to begin with, then a couple of weeks later, it was still tender and a bit sore. A couple of my friends encouraged me to speak to the doctor, so I booked an appointment with my GP in the village. My GP couldn’t find anything but referred me to the breast clinic at the local hospital for a thorough check-up. We do have cancer in the family – my mum had ovarian cancer and her sister had breast cancer.

I actually work at the hospital, so I went to my appointment during my working day. A consultant did the examination. They said the fact that it was sore was a good sign. That day, I had a mammogram and an ultrasound. They then injected a long thing needle into the side of my breast to extract some cells.

Within two hours, I was told I had breast cancer. How people can wait for weeks for results, I do not know. I feel lucky that I was told so quickly.

The consultant along with the breast care nurse called me back into the consulting room and told me that I would have to have a full mastectomy of my right breast. As the lump was so deep against my chest wall and was the size of a golf ball, a lumpectomy would have left me with a deformed breast. They did say that I could have a reconstruction afterwards, but I hadn’t opted for that. That’s a long time on the operating table.

I was turning 60 that year and had lots of things planned. I just wanted to get on with it. I remember seeing all of the troops returning from Afghanistan with severe and debilitating injuries and I thought to myself, what’s the removal of my breast in the grand scheme of things?

“If that keeps me well, then so be it.”

At this stage, a group of medical professionals get together and have what’s called a multidisciplinary team meeting (MDT). This determines what treatment you will need.

After diagnosis, I went to look for some soft cup bras which I could wear after surgery. I was lucky as the woman who I spoke in the shop had also been through surgery herself, so she had a good understanding of what I would need.

 

Treatment

My surgery was at the Horton hospital in Banbury which isn’t too far. Straight after a mastectomy, they give you a temporary prosthesis – a bit like cotton wool. It’s called a ‘softie’!

The first two to three days after surgery are really important. You need to know everything’s OK. You need someone at home to keep an eye on you. You just don’t know how you’re going to be.

My husband’s first wife died of breast cancer when she was 49. Whilst I was quite strong after diagnosis, he was distraught and wondered what he’d done wrong.

From the point of diagnosis, I kept a little diary which I called ‘My Betsy Boob Book’! You’ve got to make light of the situation somehow. I have three types of prostheses: ‘Softie’ – the temporary one I had initially; ‘Betsy’ – my everyday prosthesis, then ‘Swimmie’ which is slightly heavier than softie and used for swimming.

My step-daughter, along with my husband, came to visit me in hospital after surgery and both were surprised as I had full face of makeup on!

I stayed in hospital for four days and was totally spoilt. The Macmillan nurse was fantastic.

My chemotherapy didn’t start until April 2011. I had FEC 75 treatment and went for cold cap therapy which helps to prevent hair loss. You have 6 sessions in total - one every three weeks.

Breast surgery has come on leaps and bounds over the past few years. Far more people go on to live than before.

 

Getting fitted

Once things are healing and you’ve got a proper prosthesis, that’s when you want a better fitting bra.

11th March 2011 diary entry: “Quite excited as going to Royce today to get fitted. My husband sat with the designers whilst I tried on bras in the little fitting room.

“I started out wearing a 38C and ended up being a 38DD. It’s so worth going to get fitted properly.”

Because the bras are non-wired, they can look a bit bigger. Anyway, I bought four of them immediately.

“Once I’d had surgery and been fitted properly at Royce I thought: ‘I look pretty good, all things considered’.”

It’s so important to go and get fitted when you’ve had breast surgery. Not only that, but to get fitted by someone who understands the sensitivity of breast surgery and has been trained properly. Royce obviously can’t fit every woman who’s ever had breast surgery, but they do run a training course for their stockists (they have over 400 in the UK alone). They invite models to attend the course and the delegates can practice fitting a bra on women who have undergone surgery. I’m not shy when it comes to being fitted and talking about my body and what I’ve been through, but not everyone feels able to do that.

Having been fitted by Royce and also modelling for them at their fitting school, I’m now the one who’s telling my friends and colleagues how to fit their own bras.

I believe that getting your underwear right is essential, whether you’ve had breast surgery or not. It’s what’s underneath that matters and I think a good silhouette is really important. I haven’t had to change any of the clothes I wear at all.

Being upfront about my treatment is the best way to be as it’s now the norm amongst friends and family. My grandson pointed to me the other day and said “which one’s the real one nanny”? So obviously, a well-fitting bra says it all!

Having had breast surgery doesn’t mean that I can’t wear wired bras, but a non-wired bra is definitely recommended during at least the first six months after surgery. You don’t want anything that’s going to dig in or irritate the healing wound or scar tissue. It’s like any wound – you need to look after your skin when it’s healing. Just be sensible.

 

The road to recovery

The hospital did give me exercises to do. E.g. in the shower you have to try to stretch your arm up to the ceiling. It’s weird as the wound feels sensitive but numb at the same time.

I took an oestrogen-inhibiting drug called Letrozol for 5 years after treatment. This did affect me physically as I’d have hot sweats regularly and I did gain some weight. They made me feel tired a lot of the time too and I was often unable to get out of bed before 10am. The type of breast cancer that I had feeds on oestrogen, so these drugs are like a safety blanket to prevent it from coming back.

Now that I’m off the drugs, I still get tired but I’m not sure if that is just my age!

 

Advice to others

If I had to offer any advice to women who are undergoing breast surgery, I would say that once you get your diagnosis, try to plan ahead and start looking for a bra. I was lucky as my breast care nurse pointed me in the direction of Royce. Obviously, the NHS can’t recommend anything in particular but they can point you in the right direction.

You can’t just be who you were before – you will change your outlook on life. Seeking help from specialists like Royce will help you to regain the body confidence that you need. People’s confidence can get knocked, so as well as looking your best, you need a great support network too.

“I always think that good corsetry can make all the difference to how you look and feel.”

Book a bra fitting with your nearest Royce stockist and take a plain t-shirt with you, so you can see how you will look. Personally, I love the Royce moulded bras.

Take the time to find a bra which is comfortable. I absolutely love some of the new fabrics which are being used these days. Royce’s Maisie bra is so pretty and incredibly soft.


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