Undergoing a mastectomy was one of the most challenging things you've faced as a woman. The challenge is ongoing as you recover from surgery. An important stage in recovery — both physically and emotionally — is choosing your first post-mastectomy bras. With the right bras, you will begin to feel whole, confident, and empowered once again. As you navigate this selection process, here are five tips to keep in mind.

1. Give Yourself Time

Your surgeon will let you know when you have healed enough to get fitted for a prosthesis and mastectomy bra. However, he or she will only note when you are physically ready for this step — not when you are emotionally ready. You do not have to rush out to buy a prosthesis and bras the day your surgeon approves you to do so. If you need to take another week or two to work up some emotional courage, that is okay.

If you have been seeing a therapist during your mastectomy and recovery, talk to him or her about your worries and concerns associated with bra selection. Many women feel that selecting a bra makes their situation feel more real. Others fear that their feelings of lost femininity will be magnified by the process of bra selection. Talking about these feelings can help strengthen you emotionally so you are better able to face the challenge of bra selection.

2. Visit a Certified Fitter

When you are emotionally and physically ready to select post-mastectomy bras, meet with a certified fitter. Even women who have both of their natural breasts often choose the wrong size bra. A fitter will ensure you go home with bras that make you look natural and feel comfortable. Certified fitters are discrete, kind, and can answer any questions you have about the bra-fitting process or which bras might be best for you.

3. Bring Along a Trusted Friend or Partner

Even if you feel strong going into your first post-mastectomy bra fitting, emotions might come flooding out once you start trying on bras. This is nothing to be ashamed of. However, you may want to have a friend or your partner attend the bra fitting with you so that you can depend on them for support throughout the process.

Your partner or friend can remind you that you are a strong, beautiful, whole, and empowered woman. They can also provide a second opinion when you're not sure which style looks best. 

4. Select Several Different Styles

Many women who have had mastectomies eventually settle on one or two styles of bras that they like best. However, when you are getting fitted for your first bras, play around with a few different styles to give yourself a chance to discover which ones suit you.

At a minimum, look for a smooth, soft t-shirt bra that you can wear when you need smooth lines under clothing. Also, find a lacier bra you can wear when you want to feel feminine. With either style, front closures are usually easiest to manage after a mastectomy.

5. Don't Be Afraid to Try Something New

Just because you liked a certain style of bra prior to your mastectomy does not mean you have to stick with the same style now. Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and experiment with a new color or style. This is a time to reclaim your femininity in the way that feels most authentic to you right now. That might mean wearing a silky pink bra even though you used to be a white-only girl.

Follow the tips above, and rely on the certified fitters at Sal-Liz to find a mastectomy bra you love. Our consultations are always free, and we offer custom-fit bras and prosthetic bras for women of all shapes and sizes.