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What to Wear After a Mastectomy to Stay Comfortable, Cozy, and Cute (If You Want To)

Living Well

January 26, 2024

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Photography by The Good Brigade/Getty Images

Photography by The Good Brigade/Getty Images

by Sarah DiMuro

•••••

Medically Reviewed by:

Faith Selchick, DNP, AOCNP

•••••

•••••

by Sarah DiMuro

•••••

Medically Reviewed by:

Faith Selchick, DNP, AOCNP

•••••

•••••

Being prepared with comfy clothes after surgery can help make your recovery a little bit simpler. Focus on oversized, specialty garments, clean changes of clothes, and slip-on shoes. A celebratory outfit can lift your spirits, too.

For me, getting diagnosed with breast cancer was terrifying. Every appointment was full of anxiety and stress as we planned out the course of action.

Once I got the date for my double mastectomy, I was determined to be as prepared as possible. Breast cancer was taking away my breasts, but it wasn’t taking away my sense of fun.

So, before the surgery, I did what I always do before a big event: I went shopping! Before I went, I researched what I’d need to have the best recovery experience possible.

As a result of that research, here are my top five clothing must-haves for almost anyone going through a mastectomy.

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Oversized is the name of the game right after surgery

When you first walk out of the hospital, you don’t want anything rubbing against your skin. I wore one of my husband’s oversized collared shirts and a hoodie the morning of my surgery. Button-downs make things easy, too.

I wanted to make sure I was as comfortable as possible. But I also needed to be mindful of my very limited range of arm motion postsurgery, so anything that required me to lift my arms over my head was off-limits.

And let’s not forget about my new accessories — two drains — that would need to be secured somewhere as I walked about. The deep pockets of my oversized hoodie were perfect for that.

Also, don’t underestimate the power of a comfy pair of baggy sweats. Leave the yoga pants at home, as you don’t want anything that takes any effort to put on.

I topped off my ensemble with my favorite baseball cap, which helped me walk out of the hospital feeling more like myself — especially as I was leaving a bit of myself behind.

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Specialty items can make all the difference, especially those first few days

Before the surgery, I went to a local shop catering to women postmastectomy.

The kind salesperson helped me select a tank that included pockets for my drains. It was loose at the neck and easy to put on, and it was fashionable, so wearing it was something I looked forward to.

I started wearing it a few days after the surgery, and it helped a lot with keeping the drains secure and out of sight from my 10-month-old son, who thinks everything is a toy.

Have lots of clean clothes options at the ready

I was instructed not to shower until after the drains came out 5 days later. I enjoy daily showers to relax and feel human, so not being able to was particularly hard for me. Not to mention — I felt gross.

The key to surviving this is having lots of clean clothes on hand. Having some freshening-up wipes on hand doesn’t hurt, either!

You can find tanks with built-in drain pockets on Amazon or from specialty shops like Inspired Comforts. However, they can be pricey.

There are also lots of local Facebook groups for breast cancer survivors where women donate their postmastectomy garments. Mastectomy Support Group on Facebook may be a good place to start.

I couldn’t wait to pass along mine to other women in need!

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You can’t have too many comfortable slip-on shoes

I had my surgery during a very cold spring and lived in a pair of slip-on, fur-lined UGGs. They were comfortable, cute, and had solid rubber soles that helped me feel secure.

The last thing I wanted was to trip and fall: It’s best to set aside the flimsy flip-flops and sandals.

For warmer weather, slip-ons with straps like Crocs or fabric backs like Toms are good options.

A postsurgery celebratory outfit or accessory is a must

Having a mastectomy is a big deal, and you deserve to reward yourself for all you’ve been through.

I’m all about celebrating making it through the other side of life’s obstacles. I used a gift card I received for my birthday earlier that year and treated myself to a cute purse.

A few months later, when I was back in the hospital for my reconstruction, I bought myself a fun top. Neither item was super expensive, but it was exciting to have something new to look forward to wearing after waking up from surgery.

To this day, I see those items in my closet and am reminded of how strong I am.

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Not a fashion person? Not a problem!

If you’re just not that into clothes, it’s totally OK to focus on comfort.

Save the “treating yourself” for a special meal, a massage with an oncology specialist, or whatever it is that brings a smile to your face and puts a spring in your step.

Takeaway

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to a postmastectomy wardrobe. It’s important to wear what brings you comfort, ease, and joy.

Whether that’s your favorite ratty T-shirt or a glam designer top, it’s up to you!

Medically reviewed on January 26, 2024


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