Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Select An Article

This article is from the WebMD Feature Archive

Font Size

Breast Cancer Clothing: Bras, Scarves, Accessories, and More

Women with breast cancer today have a mind-boggling array of options, from wigs and scarves to specialty bras and swimsuits.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Matthew Hoffman, MD

When you're first diagnosed with breast cancer, all you can think about is "Am I going to die?" But as you begin to learn to live with your cancer diagnosis, you start to think about other things, like "What am I going to look like bald?" It may sound frivolous, but ask any breast cancer survivor and she'll tell you that she thought a lot about whether to splurge on that real human hair wig or what she'd look like in a swimsuit.

Feeling good about how you look is an important part of feeling good about yourself in general. And no one deserves to feel good about herself more than a woman who's surviving breast cancer. Fortunately, women with breast cancer today have a mind-boggling array of options, from wigs and scarves to specialty bras and swimsuits, designed with their needs in mind.

Recommended Related to Breast Cancer

Me and the Girls: Diane Morgan

WebMD senior writer Miranda Hitti interviewed breast cancer survivors as part of a series for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The series, called “Me & the Girls,” explores the personal stories of these women after they were diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer survivor Diane Morgan, 71, lives in Santa Rosa, Calif. now. But her breast cancer story began in 2005, when she was 67 and and living near Miami in Sunny Isles, Fla. That's one of the places where Hurricane Katrina struck...

Read the Me and the Girls: Diane Morgan article > >

Not Your Grandmother's Mastectomy Bra

When Theresa McLeod started fitting mastectomy bras in the 1970s, there were three bras and two breast forms. Today, in the boutique she manages at the Evelyn Lauder Breast Center of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, McLeod stocks a running inventory of about 3,500 bras in 30 to 40 styles. They range in sizes from 32A and AA up to 52DD. "You can really get anything you want," McLeod tells WebMD. "Within the last three to five years, options have really expanded. You can get microfibers, V-cut bras, lace appliques, and a huge selection of seamless styles."

Kate Rubien, manager of Underneath It All, the boutique at the Clinical Cancer Center at New York University Cancer Institute, agrees. "Not long ago, we were excited to get black," she says. "Now we have all kinds of colors -- one bra comes in mint green, blue, burgundy, and pink. We stock some bras that look just like expensive Wacoal bras."

Mastectomy bras still look a bit different than regular bras. Because they include pockets for breast prostheses, they often cover much more of the breast than do regular bras. But you can also ask to have a pocket sewn into your own bra to accommodate a breast form. The department store Nordstrom will do this to any bra they sell, or you can ask at the hospital where you're being treated.

You should be fitted for a mastectomy bra by a certified fitter. Most cancer programs either have boutiques that do fittings or provide referrals. But once you've gotten a good fit, you can buy beautiful mastectomy bras online. Nordstrom and JC Penney also carry mastectomy bras. Most insurers will pay for at least one mastectomy bra per year (along with coverage for prostheses). Check with your carrier about coverage.

If you've had a lumpectomy and don't need a full breast prosthesis, you may still want to get a small breast form for symmetry. "It's like filling in a missing piece to the puzzle," Rubien tells WebMD. "I have eight different styles of partial breast forms -- different shapes and thicknesses -- in a full range of sizes." Or you may prefer a "molded cup" bra that is pre-shaped and easily filled out.

Other options available include a soft camisole that women can wear during their post-surgical period with pockets to hold drainage tubing and bottles. Many insurers also pay for one of these, says McLeod. There is also an array of self-adhering nipples and nipple covers for women in various stages of reconstruction.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
 
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
 
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
VIDEO
Resolved To Quit Smoking
SLIDESHOW
 
Woman getting mammogram
Article
Screening Tests for Women
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
serious woman
Article
 
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow
SLIDESHOW