Our Journey Creating The Perfect Custom Mastectomy Bra
This year, for breast cancer awareness month, we want to share our personal story and journey on how we began creating our mastectomy bras.
Breast Cancer is a subject close to my heart as my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age (in her 20s!). She had a single mastectomy procedure and when she came out of the hospital, she recalled being given a bra that didn't meet her expectations.
“ Not only did I already feel unattractive and unsexy after they took one of my breasts away, but to then receive a bra and prosthesis that was just as unappealing validated all those feelings. It wasn't a very confident time in my life, and I never felt like myself for a long time afterwards."
When I started my business and when my mother told me about her story, it just really hit a nerve. I believe no matter what we look like, we should always feel beautiful and there should be products out there that help us feel that way.
There is no reason that surgical bras and garments need to be so clinical looking, or be created just for function. If we can make regular garments flattering and appealing, there is no reason why mastectomy bras can't be the same.
So, with something to prove to my mom, and the world, our team went to work.
We looked at all the options that were available at the time we started, and sought feedback from friends, family and clients who underwent breast surgery, with a specific focus on breast cancer surgeries.
Here are the top features we noted when asking women what the "perfect mastectomy bra would look like":
1. Lightweight & Breathable
2. Wirefree & Front Closure Option
3. Supportive & Comfortable
4. Beautiful & Pretty
5. Built in prosthetics and/or pockets to insert them
Speaking of prosthetics, the one learning that surprised me was how many women complained about their prosthesis, especially my mother. They all said the same thing: "too heavy, too hot, and too uncomfortable!" Not to mention the annoyance of "putting in your fake boob" everyday takes is draining.
"We just want to feel like ourselves again, and having to take the extra step each day to insert a boob in the right way when wearing a bra takes its toll. Not to mention it moves around throughout the day!"
So, we introduced our first mastectomy bra, modified from our best selling Ingrid Bra that was already wirefree with a front closure option, and had maximum comfort and support.
Lined with organic cotton and using stretchy cup fabrics, we ensured all the materials used were latex and allergen free. Our soft wide waistband elastic was added for more comfort and support, with additional room for pockets and drainage on the inside.
The biggest challenge was finding a way to build in a prosthesis. Using the "Russian Cup Doll" method, we layered multiple foam pieces together in decreasing sizes to sew into the bra cup.
Here is what this looked like:
The problem we then discovered was that one breast looked too fake and perky, while the other breast had a natural weight to them! Mom was not impressed to say the least. So, we added some weight using a pouch filled with poly pellets. There were some laughs that were had when trying to weigh a breast to make sure it matched our custom prosthesis. Queue the image of me trying to put a breast on a scale and telling my mom to hold still while I took the exact weight of it! Ten pounds, in case you were wondering.
Here is how we added weight to the foam, using a pouch filled with weighted pellets:
It took many attempts and trials to get it just right, but when we did, we sure made our most VIP client happy and proud, shedding a few tears when she wore the bra for the first time, triumphantly announcing she was "finally free and relieved after so long".
Here is what the inside and the outside of the finished prosthesis and bra looked like:
Since then, we've accommodated many requests, including adding drainage pockets, double prosthetics with different shapes and sizes, using all organic materials and cotton materials just to name a few. There also have been some requests on converting our popular Sahaara Solids Bras and Viva Bra Collection to our mastectomy line, which has been quite successful and fun. We also have been able to make clients a mastectomy strapless bra, both showcased below!
For those with lumpectomies and general asymmetry, here was a request we had for client that had a significant lumpectomy, resulting in asymmetrical breasts. We added a push up pad to even things out and a moulded insert for overall shape, especially in the top of the breast.
Introducing our Mastectomy Collection for those surviving or going through breast cancer, or having other breast related treatment, was one of great importance and pride to us. We all deserve to feel sexy, confident and normal, whatever that definition is to each one of us.
Hope us sharing our journey as been informative! Thank you for taking the time to take part in our journey. If you've been through a similar experience with your post surgical bras, or have any advice or tips on mastectomy bras, we'd love to hear from you in the comments!