Bras and Camisoles
Until I had my mastectomies, I never thought much about bras. Since my surgery, I've become bra-obsessed, always looking for the perfect mastectomy bra—sexy, but also comfortable and secure.
Once you've had a single or double mastectomy without reconstruction, bras take on a whole new meaning, and it's definitely not about showing cleavage. Instead, it's about finding ways to look and feel good now that your cleavage is gone. You may still want to wear attractive low-cut tops, but to enjoy wearing them you've got to feel secure about what will (or won't) show every time you bend over. You may still want to engage in strenuous athletic activities, but you don't want to worry about whether your bra will stay put while you're jogging, sailing, or serving a tennis ball.
There are hundreds of mastectomy bras on the market, but many of them are bulky, constricting, and downright unattractive. When the only breast forms available were quite heavy, a supportive bra was necessary to hold their weight. But with the advent of lightweight silicone breast forms and non-silicone alternatives, mastectomy bras can and should be cuter, sexier, and more comfortable. Manufacturers have finally awakened to the need for better bras and there are now some good options available.
A link is provided for each bra recommended below, so you can see what the bra looks like and gather other information. Just click on the name of the item you would like to learn more about. Where possible, the link is to the company that makes the bra. In some instances, where links to manufacturers don't exist or don't provide adequate information, links to online retailers are used instead. The retailers are selected from among those included in our Helpful Links section. These are retailers who offer excellent service, fair prices, and a good selection of post-mastectomy products.
As with so many aspects of living breast-free, finding the right bra is a process of trial and error. The bras we feature represent those we think work well. But there may be other options that will work better for you. You'll find a lot to choose from, since a number of companies feature lines of mastectomy bras. These companies include American Breast Care, Amoena, Anita, Classique, Jodee, Nearly Me, and Trulife.
While many women find mastectomy bras that work well for them, others prefer to wear regular unpocketed bras. Still others prefer regular unpocketed bras with pockets sewn in. Some lingerie shops, as well as Nordstrom department store, will sew pockets for you if you purchase a regular bra (or bathing suit) from them. Alternatively, sew-in pockets can be purchased. The American Cancer Society's TLC website sells Sew-In Bra Pockets. Sew-in pockets are also available from many mastectomy bra manufacturers. Another useful item is a bra extender. If you find a bra that you like but the band size is just a little too tight, a bra extender can transform an uncomfortable fit into a perfect one.
This seamless bra is exceptionally soft and comfortable. With its soft molded cups, it creates an attractive, smooth appearance under clothes. This bra doesn't come up too high under the arms, so is good for women who prefer a less constricting bra, but not for those who are looking for compression and support under the arms.
The pockets of this bra are made of soft cotton with a little added Spandex for stretch, so are comfortable against the chest. Another nice feature of this bra is the convertible straps, which can be worn in a tradition, halter, or criss-cross style. Be aware that, as with other ABC bras, the cup sizes run big. The bra is available in beige, white, or sky blue.
This T-shirt bra looks very cute and feminine and is designed for a more petite figure, with shallower cups and narrower straps than ABC's other T-shirt bras. The cup sizes run big, as is true of most ABC bras. Available in beige, black, white, and vintage rose.
This seamless bra has a lace camisole panel that will look pretty peaking out from under a blouse, business suit, or dress, while also allowing for extra modesty and providing a feeling of security when worn with low-cut tops. The microfiber polka-dot jacquard fabric that covers the cups looks smooth under clothing. The micro polyester pockets feel nice against the skin.
In addition to the lace camisole panel, the Dana bra features lace detail on the center front, bottom band, and along the straps, giving the bra a lovely feminine appearance. Available in black and off-white.
The Lara is a seamless bra with molded foam soft cups that create a smooth look and pleasing shape under clothing. This beautifully-made bra has an elegant, simple style. (Amoena also offers a dressier version of this bra, the Lara Lace.) The Lara bra features breathable mesh pockets. Available in nude, black, night blue, and platinum grey.
A supportive yet flexible bra, the Marlena features a V-yoke bottom band and microfiber cups and pockets. This seamless bra looks smooth under clothing. According to Amoena, the Marlena bra offers "a forgiving, secure fit." This is an accurate description, as the bra has a comfortable, non-constricting feel, yet provides sufficient support. Available in nude and blush.
If you're looking for a bra that's seamless but also offers full coverage and support, the Mona bra is worth checking out. Padded shoulder straps provide extra comfort. The Mona is made from a lightly textured, 2-way stretch, Meryl® microfiber fabric and has microfiber pockets. Available in cognac, black, and champagne.
The soft-fabric molded cups of the Performance bra feature frame construction at the side and lower cup as well as reinforced side panels to provide support during exercise. The microfiber fabric used on the cups and pockets has wicking properties to minimize perspiration. The bra has a thick elastic band with plush backing to provide support and comfort.
This is a good-looking sports bra with a back, 3-way adjustable closure and adjustable straps. Available in white, black, and nude.
The Gloria bra is a smooth, seamless, lightweight bra made with soft padded microfiber. There's a small (invisible) reinforcement on each side which can be padded with medical fleece (provided with bra) to replace tissue loss. This pretty, comfortable bra is available in white.
This lovely bra is made of breathable microfiber and has pretty embroidered cups. It provides a secure, natural-looking fit and is particularly recommended for women who are looking for a more petite bra that does not come too high under the arms. Available in beige, white, and black.
This comfortable, good-looking bra is made of soft lacy microfiber, with gently molded, seamless pockets to accomodate one or two breast forms. With three rows of double hooks in the back and no underwires, this bra doesn't feel massive, as some mastectomy bras do. This bra provides good projection and the pretty lace pattern will not show through most fitted tops. Some women are irritated by bras that come up high under their armpits, a feature common to many mastectomy bras. If you're one of these women, this Classique bra might be the one for you, as it doesn't constrict you under your arms. At the same time, the thick but flexible band provides security and keeps the bra from moving around. A good choice for day or evening wear. Available in black, beige, and chocolate.
The Elita bra is a wonderful choice for women looking for an ultra-lightweight bra in a silky microfiber fabric. The bra provides little support, so is best worn with lightweight silicone or non-silicone forms. The Elita is not specifically designed for post-mastectomy women, but the roomy pockets are ideal for inserting breast forms. Given its unstructured style, this bra probably won't work for you if you wear larger than a C cup.
Although still called a "V-neck Camisole" bra, this description reflects an earlier design. The current style has more of a scoop neck. Available in black and white.
This unstructured bra is a natural choice for immediate post-surgery wear, but many women find that even after they are healed, it provides a comfortable alternative to more constricting mastectomy bras. This bra is a good choice if you've had bilateral mastectomies or if your remaining breast is very small, since its unstructured style provides little support. It needs to be worn with unweighted or very lightweight forms. Once placed carefully in the bra's pocket, the forms will stay in place. The Still You Bra is a great choice for exercising and for hot weather. Available in nude and black.
For use as an actual running bra, this is an excellent choice. Made with cotton and lycra, the bra has triple hooks in the back. CoolMax® pocket fabric helps maintain a cool, comfortable environment for the skin. There is elastic binding on the neckline and armholes for support and comfort. The adjustable back straps are rigid, which provides support and minimizes movement. Available from most retailers in gray only (though manufacturer lists white also).
Although these four bras were not designed for women who have had mastectomies, each bra contains pockets which allow breast forms to be inserted. Post-mastectomy women have found that these bras work well when used with lightweight microbead or foam forms. The Handful bra, which was designed as a sports bra, is more supportive than the Coobie or Zee Bra!, so can also be worn with lightweight silicone forms. The Genie Bra also provides reasonable support, although most post-mastectomy women prefer to wear it with non-silicone forms.
The Coobie Bra, the Zee Bra!, and the Genie Bra are intended for everyday use. Though the Handful Bra was designed as a sports bra, some women find it comfortable for regular wear as well. Check out the separate links in the heading, above, to see if one of these bras might be a good choice for you.
Note: Recently, Zee Bra! has improved its design, with larger pocket openings, longer straps, a hidden tag, and a double front panel. The larger pocket openings are particularly helpful, allowing much easier insertion of breast forms.
Camisoles are a wonderful way to feel feminine and cool in hot weather. They make great undergarments. If you enjoyed wearing camisoles before your mastectomy surgery, you may wonder if there's one you can wear now. Not only are there mastectomy camisoles, but some mastectomy bras feature lacy inserts that create the effect of a camisole when worn under a jacket. In addition, some resourceful women sew pockets into shelf bras on non-mastectomy camisoles. Wearing a camisole under a shear blouse is a nice way to feel sexy and revealing without needing to show cleavage.
There are also options for achieving a camisole effect by using a mini camisole, which fits over your bra. Perfect Cami offers mini camis in a wide variety of fabrics, including lace and sparkly. Mini camis are available from other companies as well, including the Pikabu Mini Lace Cami by Arianne and the Cami Too from Fashion Forms.
This is a very attractive camisole that has great coverage, so can be worn alone. It can also be used as an undergarment. It features an integrated shelf bra with pockets and molded foam cups. The camisole is made of soft modal material. It can be worn with an unweighted or slightly-weighted non-silicone breast form, but offers enough support that it can also be worn with a silicone form.
Please note that a number of women have commented that the Valletta Camisole runs a bit small.
This so-called "Tank Top" is really a classic camisole. It has a shelf bra with pockets for breast forms. The manufacturer recommends wearing its Illusions breast form (a non-silicone form described in our Breast Forms section) with the Tank Top. It can also be worn with an unweighted or slightly-weighted foam form. A silicone form would be too heavy and would cause the camisole to sag. Worn alone or under a T-shirt, the Still You Tank Top is an excellent choice for exercising. It also looks great under a sheer blouse or under a jacket or open blouse. Available in nude, black, and white.
Still You also makes a Jacquard Lace Tank Top, a dressier version of their basic camisole. Available in black, white, brown, and pink.