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1. Finding the right clothing and swimwear after breast cancer surgery
2. Where can I find swimwear to wear with a prosthesis?
3. Tips for strapless clothes or narrow straps with a prosthesis
4. Tips for low necklines and low backs with a prosthesis
5. Not wearing a bra
6. Sleepwear with a prosthesis
7. Further support
It’s not unusual to wonder what your appearance will be like after surgery or if your clothes will still look the same. With time, most women regain their confidence by knowing what works for them and what makes them feel more comfortable.
You may also want to look at our information on bras after surgery for breast cancer.
If you want to wear a prosthesis when swimming, you can often find suitable swimwear in high-street shops.
The top needs to be cut high enough over the breast area and under the arms to cover the prosthesis. It also needs to have some structure, which is usually provided by cups. If you choose to wear a bikini top, choose one that comes in bra cup sizes, has a full cup and a supportive underband.
You could adapt a high-street swimsuit that has cups by making your own pocket to hold a prosthesis in place. If you do this, you’ll probably need to wear a lightweight prosthesis or foam leisure prosthesis as other prostheses may be too heavy.
You may prefer to wear pocketed post-surgery swimwear. This type of swimwear can be found in some high-street shops, large department stores or from specialist suppliers. They come in one-piece costumes, two-piece bikinis and tankinis. You can use a regular silicone prosthesis or a swim prosthesis in a post-surgery swimsuit.
You don’t need to pay VAT on post-surgery swimwear if you have had breast cancer surgery.
Made-to-measure swimwear is available from some companies. This allows you to choose the print and design for a swimsuit, tankini or bikini.
Although you can swim in a silicone or foam leisure prosthesis it’s important to rinse it well afterwards to avoid any possible damage from the chlorine or salt water.
You can also wear a swim prosthesis that doesn’t get damaged by salt water or chlorine.
Some strapless clothes and clothes with narrow straps are made of material that provides good support or have an extra support panel in the chest area. This may be enough to hold your prosthesis in place, so it looks and feels comfortable.
If there’s not enough support, you could try:
If you want to wear a low neckline but still cover part of your chest area you can try:
You can buy bra extenders from specialist suppliers and some department stores. Instead of fastening at your back, these continue round your body and fasten lower down at the front to enable you to wear clothes with low backs.
You can also buy bras with straps that can be crossed at the back, designed to not show when wearing tops with cut-away shoulders.
You may want to try going without a bra (see below).
If you prefer not to wear a bra, there are ways you can adjust your clothes to wear them with a prosthesis if you want to. Try things on first and see what works for you.
If it helps you feel more confident or comfortable, you may want to wear a prosthesis in bed. You could consider:
Everyone has different feelings about their body and how they look after breast surgery. It’s natural to have concerns. You may wonder how friends and family will react, or what people might say when you return to your everyday activities.
Some areas have support groups, in person and online, where you can talk to other women and find out what has worked for them. Your breast care nurse will also be able to tell you about local support.
You can also call our helpline for information and support on 0808 800 6000.