Following surgery (mastectomy or lumpectomy), it’s important to take proper precautions to reduce the amount of discomfort and swelling that may follow post surgery. Purchasing a new bra is high on the list of steps to reduce the risk of swelling and increase your overall comfort. Depending on your surgery, your doctor may recommend that you wear a compression bra.
A compression bra has a padded front zipper closure for ease of getting on and off when you arm is sore, adjustable hook-and-eye shoulder straps to ensure a proper fit and a latex-free fabric that pulls moisture away from the body and dissipates heat buildup. The bra also has a soft compression band that encircles the torso gently, has attachments to easily manage the draining tubes, and delivers comfort for the surrounding skin and muscle tissue. Patients who are susceptible to lymphedema are often told to wear a compression bra.
To determine what bra size you are you’ll want to measure your chest directly under your breasts and around your back, thus determining band size. To determine cup size you’ll want to measure the fullest part of the larger breast from the midpoint of your chest, over the larger breast, and to the center of your back. Multiply the number by two. Then check the manufacturers sizing charts for your correct size.
Lymphedema or swelling of the arm or leg is not well understood but at least more common. There is a lot of education and awareness around this subject that is absolutely needed.
What is less known is swelling of the torso. It can come from breast cancer surgery and radiation treatment. I’ve also seen torso swelling in those who have had cancer and surgery in the neck area.
In order to manage this swelling, look for a compression bra or mastectomy camisole that has the compression factor. There are garments listed as slimmers or shapers, not to be confused with the Spanx garments. Compression garments for torso swelling have a graduated compression which moves the lymph fluid.
Some of the slimmers or camisoles are very fashionable and can be worn in place of a bra under a suit or sweater. They also work nicely in layering for a more casual look. Definitely chic!
Lymphedema is a swelling of the arm and/or leg after surgery. Breast cancer and prostate cancer are the two most likely causes. Once you have lymphedema, it is a matter of managing the symptoms as there is no cure. I have talked about ways to reduce your risk, but once you have lymphedema, it is a matter of adapting it into your lifestyle.
One area will be the wearing of a lymphedema sleeve for arm lymphedema or a compression bra and/or camisole for torso lymphedema. You will need to be fitted properly by a trained lymphedema specialist who will diagnose your condition, provide initial manual lymphatic massage and bandaging to bring the arm or torso to a stable condition. They will then prescibe the proper tension and sizing for the compression garment. For some, you will be able to claim this garment on your health insurance.
There are also options for special arm lymphedema sleeves for nighttime use to eliminate the need for bandaging.
As you get familiar with your options, life will move on and you will incorporate these garments into your lifestyle.
Lymphedema is swelling that generally occurs in one of your arms and legs, and it is a common risk associated with cancer surgery. Particularly following breast surgery, the affected arm often starts to swell. The swelling often starts in the hands. The same is true of the legs after surgery for colon, prostate and ovarian caners.
Once it’s been diagnosed, it takes daily management to keep lymphedema in check. One effective treatment for lymphedema is the use of compression sleeves after therapy during the day and night to manage the swelling in the area. These compression devices are comfortable, easy to use and come in a variety of sizes.
Many women opt for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. It entails another two surgeries – one for the insertion of the tissue expander, followed by several stages of expansion of the tissue, and then finally, the final insertion of the permanent implant.
During this time, a comfortable bra that gives you the support and comfort you need is very important. You will be tender, so soft cotton will feel gentle against your skin. Plus you want to minimize seams which can cut into areas of scarring. It pays to be prepared, have a look at the options available and make sure you have a compression bra that works for you.