• What To Do - Mastectomy

    Asked by Kathy1 on Friday, June 13, 2014

    What To Do - Mastectomy

    I recently had a lumpectomy and unfortunately they were not able to get all the cancer and I am now scheduled for a mastectomy. Due to other serious health issues I am not a candidate for reconstruction. I know this is going to sound dumb but what do you do with the good breast until you can wear a prosthetic? I am a "d" and do not feel comfortable just letting it go. I would think it a little uncomfortable. Any words of wisdom will really be appreciated.

    25 Answers from the Community

    25 answers
    • ld_105's Avatar
      ld_105

      Get a sports bra and pad it. I had an expander for 5 months and padded it with surgical pads. Held everything in place with fabric tape. You may be able to get the other breast reduced so there is less of a difference between the two.

      about 7 years ago
    • lilymadeline's Avatar
      lilymadeline

      Hi Kathy,
      I'm so sorry that you have to have a mastectomy now, but if I were you I would get a second opinion from another breast surgeon just in case there are more options available for you out there. Reconstruction still might be possible somehow? It might not be of course, but I think that it is worth your time to at least get a second opinion. I have always gotten second opinions when I have to make a serious choice regarding my body.
      I'm only saying that because a woman in my support group has diabetes and I know that she had to shop around for breast surgeons due to her diabetes. Her case was so complicated that they didn't want to do surgery on her at all, but she had it successfully in the end and she had reconstruction as well. Good luck and God bless!

      about 7 years ago
    • Kathy1's Avatar
      Kathy1

      Lilymadeline....thanks so much. I have severe a plastic anemia which is a bone marrow disease. I don't make a lot of blood and what blood I do make is destroyed by my immune system. I am doomed to bleeding and infections so they want to make the surgery as short as possible. I also just finished chemo for lymphoma...I'm a mess. So my options are none. I just want to come thru this the best I can and not look like a uniboop until I can be fitted with a prosthetic. Silly but I think silly is good sometime.

      about 7 years ago
    • georgiamerlyn's Avatar
      georgiamerlyn

      I would go to a shop that specializes in fitting breast cancer patients. My grandmother had one radical and had special bras with one normal cup side and one side with a false one put in. I would check with The Cancer Society and Komen for resources.

      about 7 years ago
    • MLT's Avatar
      MLT

      This is not a dumb question! You should be able to get a fiberfill form to put in your bra until you are healed enough to get a prosthesis. The prosthesis salesperson gave me one. Sometimes they will give you one at the hospital. Sorry you have to have additional surgery. Hope all goes well.

      about 7 years ago
    • DianaL's Avatar
      DianaL

      You can go to a store that specializes in breast cancer supplies or even on line and get the puffs (filled with a poly fiber) to use with a sports bra but this will usually be after the drain(s) have been removed. I did not realize that you really have nothing to keep the bra where it should be. Just be aware that some times it can ride up. That being said I had a bilateral mastectomy and that may be why I had that problem. There are lots of sites on line and even videos to show you how to make them yourself. Good luck and I am praying for you!

      about 7 years ago
    • LynnT's Avatar
      LynnT

      I used the fiberfill puff and loose tops. The fiberfill does tend to ride up but that was my best option until healing was complete and I could be fitted for prosthesis. Good luck to you.

      about 7 years ago
    • Joanie's Avatar
      Joanie

      Super-cheap... cotton balls!

      about 7 years ago
    • Kathy1's Avatar
      Kathy1

      Wow there is hope. I never thought of the riding up problem. I don't think I will have drains. At least that is what my surgeons assistant said. I am so nervous but then I read everything y'all have been through and Ivtell myself I can do this. Its so great to be able to chat with people who understand. Thank you all and god bless!!!

      about 7 years ago
    • sheri56's Avatar
      sheri56

      I had a unilateral mastectomy in Oct 2010. Right before the surgery my dr made an appt for me to visit a shop which specialized in mastectomy products...bras and prosthesis. The gals there were very very helpful. I went in there knowing nothing about what I would wear after the mastectomy, all I could think about was I had cancer. They showed me what most women wore. It was a longer support-type bra and came with light weight padding to put in the side of the mastectomy. I wore that for several weeks. I must say, I hurt on that side. After I healed from radiation, I got my prosthesis. Again, it took me a LONG time to feel comfortable with it. Still today, by the end of the day I am ready to take it off. For me, it is more comfortable to go bra-less.This coming from somehow who rarely went without a bra before my mastectomy. I am also a size D.
      You can do this! You will find what works best for you. One last thing....it's really important to keep up with the exercises they give you after your mastectomy. Yes, they hurt but you will thank yourself in the future when you have much better use of that arm.
      Wishing you all the best!

      about 7 years ago
    • baridirects' Avatar
      baridirects

      There are post-operative garments available that provide soft, pillow-like forms (my mastectomy fitter called them "puffs") that you can wear on the affected side until you are healed enough to get your prosthesis fitted to make you appear a bit more balanced. It's worth asking your oncologist for a referral to a mastectomy fitter who can help you with that. I was fortunate in that we have a salon affiliated directly with my hospital that provides those services.

      Best of luck with your surgery!

      Namaste,
      Christine

      about 7 years ago
    • Snooks0829's Avatar
      Snooks0829

      There are no dumb questions not this site! A camisole can be fitted on one side with a prostetic. It is soft on the skin and provides the coverage you need while you heal. Good Luck and God Bless.

      about 7 years ago
    • Kathy1's Avatar
      Kathy1

      I am getting confused. My surgeons assistant told me after I heal they would give me a prescription for a prosthetic. Are you saying this can be done before that? Also you mentioned exercise...how soon after surgery can you start? I realize its going to hurt but from previous experiences I know its better in the long run. I am grateful that I will not need radiation so my healing will be faster. You guys are great. I think when you go thru these things there is such a need to go back to normal and I think I can now.

      about 7 years ago
    • sheri56's Avatar
      sheri56

      Kathy....I had my prosthetic soon after the mastectomy but did not start wearing it until the mastectomy site had healed. I would think your drs will give you some advice on that. With the exercise, I stayed in the hospital one night. A physical therapist came the next morning and showed me some exercises and gave me a printout of the exercises to take home with me. I started right a way but very gently. My cancer center offered gentle yoga classes which also helped a lot! My dr said she would refer me to a physical therapist, I said no, thinking I could handle it myself. Looking back now, I wish I would have said yes.
      Take care!

      about 7 years ago
    • jujuga's Avatar
      jujuga

      There is a surgery called the diep. It removes only your stomach fat. NOT the flap which removes muscle. And the associated veins. They rebuild your breasts and it lives just like your own breasts. I would strongly recommend you contact a surgeon who has done this type of surgery and is good at it. You may want to live without reconstruction but only one breast that large will cause problems to your back. Structurally....I'm an engineer I do know this much. The benefit of a diep is a tummy tuck too. The negative is you will have a longer recovery. If done correctly though it will be the last reconstruction sequence you will have to do. Plastic ones need replacing.

      about 7 years ago
    • Irenes' Avatar
      Irenes

      I bought a sports bra. The clerk suggested getting a size larger than I needed so it wouldn't bind on the surgery site. I cut a small opening on the inside pocket to put the soft poofy inside. I went for a fair length of time before I wore it daily. Loose blouses and sweaters were the order of the day.

      about 7 years ago
    • Kathy1's Avatar
      Kathy1

      Jujuga...I can't reconstruction due to serious health concerns. Otherwise diep would be on the topbof my list. We even explored implants but all doctors felt it was too risky. My surgeon has sent me to the top three plastic surgeons and I went yo one on my own. No one wants to do it. I have finally accepted no having reconstruction but just wanted to look and feel normal.

      about 7 years ago
    • niborflamingo's Avatar
      niborflamingo

      I too had a unilateral. I used an ace bandage (they gave me a long one to hold the dressing in place after the mastectomy) to bind up my remaining breast as I couldn't wear a bra at first. Then I used a camisole with padding. It's not a perfect answer because it did tend to ride up, but I looked pretty normal in my clothes. I'm so sorry about further surgery. Best of luck to you.

      about 7 years ago
    • Kathy1's Avatar
      Kathy1

      Niborflamingo...did that really work? That might be the most comfortable right afterward. I'm going to have to practice that. Boy all these ideas are doable.

      about 7 years ago
    • jujuga's Avatar
      jujuga

      I'm sorry. I guess I misread. There are many boutiques now that can help with prothstetics. I would go to them and let them show you what is available. It's expensive so I'd then try to see what I could do to make it myself.

      about 7 years ago
    • niborflamingo's Avatar
      niborflamingo

      Yes, Kathy 1, it really worked. I was a size DD at the time and pretty unbalanced. I couldn't wear a bra because the scar was not yet healed. I did this for about 2 months until the doctor gave me the go-ahead to get a prosthesis. BTW, I live in Seattle and my treatment center has a shop that specializes in aids for cancer patients. That made life much easier for me.

      about 7 years ago
    • jojo2's Avatar
      jojo2 (Best Answer!)

      My hospital gave me a camisole that you can wear comfortably the day after surgery. They have some generic pads that come with it so you can use both on the one side, to even you out. As far as riding up goes, your other breast will be a good anchor for the bras. I had a bilateral mastectomy and surprisingly there wasn't that much pain. They cut some nerves so there is loss of feeling. I'm am still numb 3 years later. I did take my pain meds on a schedule, written down, to keep on top of the discomfort. I was 61 and did not reconstruct. Hate being a patient. I go natural except when going out. The prostheses they fitted me for were supposed to feel like my own DDs. They sure did, they were heavy, hot and uncomfortable. I wear the lightest micro bead ones I can find and am looking into a custom made bra with the padding built in. Remember you can always reconstruct later if things improve. Best wishes. jojo2

      about 7 years ago
    • Kathy1's Avatar
      Kathy1

      That's awesome JoJo. I hope mine goes as well.

      about 7 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar
      leepenn

      Are you at all considering a double? I'm so sorry that you've have to deal with such complications.

      If you choose to go with a double, then symmetry will never be a problem - you can opt for the size of foobs that fit your outfit etc... You can even just choose to go flat (this is what I do)....

      There is a group called flat and fabulous - for anyone who has flatness on one or both sides... it's a Facebook group, and there are a bunch of unis on the side. Tons of them would probably be able to help you with your question. Some of them seem very happy to have one breast... others seem to wish for a mastectomy of their remaining breast... It's a very diverse group - and very unique!

      good luck.

      about 7 years ago
    • Kathy1's Avatar
      Kathy1

      Leepen...medicare will not pay for the double. I can't afford to do the other since its now considered cosmetic. I guess they use to but not now. I think too the surgeons are trying to minimize the time in surgery...less blood loss.

      about 7 years ago

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