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No Bra = No Lymphedema



  • inspiewriter
    inspiewriter Member Posts: 54

    Was just re-reading and noticed the mention of not wearing bras with underwire--I agree. Have never thought underwires were a good idea.

  • dreaming
    dreaming Member Posts: 219

    The problem with bras, is that most women we were the wrong bra, it can  be the style or size, I went to a bra specialist to have the right measurements and style, I buy only mastectomy brassieres and with no under wire under the recommendation of my surgeon.

    I am glad what you wear has improved you lymphedema.

     I do not have lymphedema and hope I stay this way.

  • Hey Sunshine - thanks so much for the info.  I will definitely check this out!  Smile
  • 8rs
    8rs Member Posts: 2

    Wow!  I am glad I found this topic.  I was starting to get frustrated that I couldn't wear my bras, again.  But, now I feel normal :) I have some concerns though that maybe you ladies can help me with.  I have lymphedema, but most of my discomfort is in my chest wall.  I had a mastectomy on my left side December, 2007. DIEP flap reconstruction March, 2009.  I was told by both my physical therapist and PS that my lymphedema would stay the same or get better after reconstruction.  But, my discomfort is now worse.  My concern is that my new foob feels heavy and uncomfortable.  I complained to my PS after my surgery and his advice was not to wear a bra.  But, now it is so uncomfortable I don't enjoy walking which was my choice of exercise.  I have seen my phyisical therapist, but the heaviness never goes completely away.  Any other thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.


  • Rabbit_fan
    Rabbit_fan Member Posts: 10

    I wanted to add my recommendation for the Assets brand tank-top style undergarment top from Target as an alternative to a bra.  They have been recommended by a couple of other people on this thread and I wanted to chime in my agreement.  I have been like Goldilocks trying to find the right thing, and bought many, many bras, camisoles, etc.  And I still was having trouble with swelling in my armpit and pain in my upper arm.  I got an Assets top yesterday and when I put it on I felt better almost immediately.  I wore a large one all evening, and an extra large one to bed last night, and today I feel so much better.  I've been trying to do drainage massage this week and is wasn't helping much, but this top has helped a lot.  I hope it keeps on being so comfortable. 

    The thing that is really great about it is that it flares at the top and the bottom.  So it's NOT TIGHT under the arm.  I haven't been able to find a camisole or any other top where the area under the arm has no pressure.  Try these, they're great!

  • svans
    svans Member Posts: 5

    I thought this was just in my head!!  I have just found out I have lymphedema. My breast cancer was in 2006, bilateral mastectomy and tram flap reconstruction in January 2007. For the past 10 months I have been to more MRI, x-rays and tests than when I was diagnosed and it took until now (I found it out with the help of my husband and brought it forward to my breast doctor). I swore that bras were doing something different but thought I was "pulling at strings" for answers. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!  I am going shopping for some of these from Walmart. Thank you for sharing, makes me feel normal!! Sylvie

  • t9jorda
    t9jorda Member Posts: 23

    Sylvie... the most important thing that was ever said to me, came from my family doctor's mouth as she was telling me that I had breast cancer.  She said "knowledge is power"... so true isn't it... you just keep on, digging, demanding, educating, experimenting etc.  until you too find a comfort zone with your lymphedema.... I also think it takes a lot longer to heal then what we realize.  My surgery was in May 2006, and I am surprised still at how much improvement I am making even now... little changes, over time have big results.
    Best wishes to you... 
  • RunswithScissors
    RunswithScissors Member Posts: 69

    Because of my size, I still have to wear a bra when I run - it hurts not to.  Mine doesn't have an underwire, and it isn't  a sport style, but it still made me really uncomfortable in a short amount of time. Then I went to target and bought  bra extenders - they just snap in where you hook the bra, and  you can make the  bra much  looser around the trunk. 

    (I'm not sure why, but a larger size bra just didn't fit as well as my regular bra with this extender inside). 

    It makes my bra much more comfortable for the occasional times when I feel like I really need to wear it. Best part, four of these extenders were only $6.

  • mamayav
    mamayav Member Posts: 1

    I was just diagnosed with lymphedema in both arms, and I just took off my bra while reading all of your posts!! I have not had reconstruction yet, and so I wear the silicone prosthetics in my bra, and they are heavy. I am curious to see how my arms do without the bra....Now, I just have to figure out how to have boobs with no bra....

  • krcll
    krcll Member Posts: 16

    I don't have lymphedema (knock on wood) but 2 months after mx and 13 nodes removed, wearing a bra just feels completely wrong. Even a very soft, loose-ish bra band seems to "strangle" me and my arm feels worse. Until now, I've been using the light fiber-fill I got from the hospital so I just safety pin that into a camisole. I would like to continue braless but I would also like to get a silicone form. I am asuming that all of the wonderful camisole suggestions you all have given are for reconstructed, lumpectomy or fiber-fill form women- is that right? Any suggestions for braless, silicone form wearing women?

  • jader
    jader Member Posts: 9

    Ok, I ordered a cami and some pj's from that Maidenform link!

  • binney4
    binney4 Member Posts: 1,466

    Hi, kncll,

    Braless, silicone form-wearing woman here!Kiss (Actually I do have a WearEase compression bra I wear a lot too). I use a Sassybax TorsoTrim cami and make my own simple prosthesis pockets for it following the instructions here:

    If you don't sew maybe a friend or a seamstress could help.

    The prostheses I use are very light and comfortable. They're Silique Comfort Lite -- filled with beanie-baby beads and covered with a silicone shell. Used them all through the desert summer here in complete comfort, and they don't weigh down the shoulders. Have you checked out the Breast Free site for resources? It's here:

    Mamayav, I am so sorry about your bilateral diagnosis. How are you doing with that? It can really be a tough adjustment, so do give yourself some room to grieve, yes? Have you found a good therapist to help you through the process of learning wrapping, massage, skin care, exercise, deep breathing -- and on and on...Undecided Let us know how we can help!

    Gentle hugs,

  • Nordy
    Nordy Member Posts: 1,106

    One of my good friends suggested the Barely There bras - I love them. They are soooo comfy and not constricting at ALL. I get mine at Kohls and when they are on sale they are only $15. However, unless you sew your own pocket in, they won't work w/prosthetics. I just had reconstruction, but carried around those heavy prosthestics in my bras for 4 years. I think if you are a candidate for the self-stick prosthetics (I know Amoena makes some) - that may help take the pull off of the shoulders because it is actually adhered to your chest wall. I couldn't use them because one side was concave and the tissue was so thin after failed tissue expanders post radiation... but... if you are someone that does not have that issue - it might be worth a try!

  • Laragh
    Laragh Member Posts: 1

    I have breast Lymphedema and I am interested in try these flexeies cami/vest tops, however how tight should they be.  I'm a 38DD is quite big breasted.



  • kira
    kira Member Posts: 659


      Check out this link:

    And this one:

    Many of the women here try them on at Kohls or Target, because comfort level varies.


  • Erica
    Erica Member Posts: 237

    I wear the Barely There crop top bra (maybe the one Nordy was referring to) with the Silique Comfort Lite forms. They are a great lightweight combo -- no pockets necessary. The forms feel very secure inside that bra.


  • KS1
    KS1 Member Posts: 161

    Add me to the list of people who do worse when wearing a bra.  It doesn't matter what type of bra I wear - my arm starts feeling heavy and uncomfortable within a few minutes.  For me, bras are a "special occasion only" thing.  With respect to camis, I bought literally a dozen different types and settled on Maidenform's Control it (about $30-35) and Barely There's Beyond Bare ($16 at target).  Both are seamless.I prefer the Control it -- the fabric is a bit softer and the straps a bit wider.  I cut them off about 3 or 5 inches below the "cup."  The material didn't run, and I didn't bother sewing a band on the bottom.  But, for me, wearing nothing is better than wearing a cami.  Also,  I have learned that if I put my sleeve on BEFORE I put my cami or bra on, my arm feels better.   -- KS1

  • sher
    sher Member Posts: 76

    Hi Barbara,

    Are the Silique Comfort Lite forms lighter in weight than the Still You Illusions?  I have one of the Barely There Crop Top Bras and the Illusions seem too heavy for this.

  • ahdjdbcjdjdbkf
    ahdjdbcjdjdbkf Member Posts: 188

    I've been sick in bed for 3 days and my lymphedema was pretty bad prior. I was too sick to put on a bra or sleeve and now my lymphedema is all but gone. And I've been wearing a very loose bra when I do wear one. My arm even feels better. Not sure how to translate this into the best action. My chest is very misshapen from mastectomy and I absolutely can not pull off any look without padding and support.

  • t9jorda
    t9jorda Member Posts: 23

    Hi there it's me, the gal who started this blog several years ago.  Mariasnow a big hug to you, you have been thru a lot - a medical marathon!    All of the cells in your body are slowly getting stronger and resinking into a new you.  A doctor said to me "How would you treat yourself if you were a new born baby?" and that has stuck with me everytime I get to a point of struggle or frustration.   You are at the stage where you need to treat your body as kindly and as loving as you possibly can, just as a new born baby.

    Now for my thoughts, I think if you have figured out a way to reduce the lympedema, this is turns reduces the stress on your body and you have achieved a milestone whereby you are more intuitive to your body's needs.  Good for you! Your "best" action is to wear clothes that make you feel comfortable, can disguise what ever you need to disguise, and that allow your body to get stronger and move forward.  It may be that you need to give youself permission to wear looser tops, or that you go shopping and try on different bra products that have no tight banding under the arm/back.  There is a combination that you can creatively put together that will get you through this interim.  I had to do this for a long while until the lymphedema settled, but today as I write, I can now wear a bra again.  I mix it up through out the week and never wear the same product twice (i.e. bra, cami with cups, spanx, sometimes just layed T-shirts).  The key is variety, and different pressure points.  Anything that kicks in the lympedemas goes in the garbage - brutal, but true.  I now have a lovely undie wardrobe and you will too.

    And... if you are concern re: looser tops... try it, but balance things out by leggings or narrow skirt on the bottom.  A pair of stunning shoes, and of course the "scarf" has been my favorite friend.  Yes, you can wear a tight cami, t-shirt, throw on a little cardi, and add the scarf long wrapped and stunning... and none of the bumps or bits will show...

    Best wishes to you, it will get better with your love, care and attention to yourself.  

  • flannelette
    flannelette Member Posts: 398

    Hi - this is a topic I've never seen, though I regularly see ones about lymphadema..and I could never figure out why the lymphadema grumblings never came from me...who had 6 lymph nodes & MX on the left, 4 years ago, and 6 lymph nodes from the right last summer for dissection. And this is clearing up the mystery - I've alwys hated bras and never worn them! well, yes, in situations where it could be embarrassing at work or whatever - but most of my life i was self-emplyed at home - and owned only 1 or 2 stretchy variations on a bra, but usually tried for clever layers, pockets right at the front, etc. to hide my boobs, even putting bandaids across my nipples & going braless.

    Even after MX it took me 3 yrs to bother to buy a "prosthesis" & visit a MX shop - and I only wear that if I would otherwise be embarrassed.......

    It's been a very interesting read. another thing - although I didn't have children, which might account for sag, my breasts have also not sagged, and I'm almost 66. Well, should say my 1 breast has not sagged -lol.

    and I'm not teeny - 42 c sometimes d

    Thanks for helping to make sense of what has seemed to me an oddity about no lymphadema at all & wondering why, since it seems to be such a common & nasty nuisance.

  • ahdjdbcjdjdbkf
    ahdjdbcjdjdbkf Member Posts: 188

    I'm at the point where I seriously don't know if the sleeve and the self-massage do a damn thing. I had to have my right implant removed due to infection. You think no boobs is bad until you have no hair. You think lymphedema is a fashion challenge until you have one boob...and so much more. Ugh. I'm wearing a sleeve today. I was careful at the hospital that they knew about my lymphedema. Beyond that I haven't been doing much of anything and gratefully it stayed pretty stable. Back on the sleeve today. These surgeries are so majorly messing up my workouts! I won't be running for a long time as I'm headed for a latissimus dorsi flap. I can walk a little in the meantime starting Friday.

    Since I have to go back to the O/R to get a new boob - or I'm choosing too, I'm really hoping my PS can even me up so I can go bra-less. I know its best for lymphedema. I'm kind of mad my chest has to get smaller due to radiation impact...but I will be happy to have one at all. My current state of affairs is none too attractive. Still, my boyfriend loves me. :-)

  • KittyDog
    KittyDog Member Posts: 656

    My PT pointed out she did not like my bra at all.  However when you are bigged boobed you have to wear a bra outside the house.  I too think it makes the LE in my back worse.  When home you will find me in my PJ's and braless.  I would love to have the other boob off but with my LE way.  I have one arm that is free...I want to keep it that way.

  • ahdjdbcjdjdbkf
    ahdjdbcjdjdbkf Member Posts: 188

    Thanks for starting this forum t9. It has been helpful and informative. I'm going to try some different things and listen to my body and see what works for me and not just assume things I read online are what is best. I'm thinking when I actually have 2 boobs again and I can, I will lean towards camis and minimal support if I can. Praying for a good surgical outcome. I've also been reading that women who have reconstruction have a lower risk of lymphedema than those who don't - specifically flaps. I'm wondering, just wondering, if my latissimus dorsi flap surgery might actually help my lymphedema by bringing some new tissue into the area. We will see! For today, my morale is not too bad. Surgery is two weeks from today.

  • FireKracker
    FireKracker Member Posts: 5,858

    I just found this thread by accident

    Have not been able to read it all

    But I will

    Who ever started this way back when thank you.

    Big huggg


  • ahdjdbcjdjdbkf
    ahdjdbcjdjdbkf Member Posts: 188

    Recently I have discovered my lymphedema is better if I wear a sports bra. I'm wearing a Columbia sports bra a lot lately and it is helping me. I really can't do no bra. My reconstruction came out really uneven and my self-esteem has taken enough hits. I don't even look anything like my avatar these days from putting on so much weight. My face is much heavier. The bonfire of the vanities has to end somewhere. 

  • t9jorda
    t9jorda Member Posts: 23

    Hi there everyone, it has been a long, long time since I started this topic thread.  We are all so unique in our journey's, the challenges that have been put in front of us, and those darn speed bumps that we keep hitting.  But... no one can ever take away our HOPE, and as long as we have that in our hearts we slowly get to our personal "I'm where I want to be - there".

    My journey with lymphedema keeps improving. I never wear my sleeve now.  Yes, I even fly without using one (although I still pack it just in case).  So the million dollar question is "What have I done?" (it's been 8 years since my surgery and I am still five feet above ground yippee! ). 

     - I still wear camisole type bras, but have graduated to the the compression "fit-wear" type a.k.a Spanx-like. I think the overall even core body compression does helps. 

    -  I do wear a bra on occasion, but limit it to a couple times a month.  

    - The other weird thing that has happen this summer, is my arm has finally stopped swelling in the hot, hot weather when I am out walking (10 kilometers a day/6 miles).  It all happened when I started carrying a very, very cold water bottle in my left hand, and ta da, the left arm stopped hurting...  

    - I never, ever overuse my left arm for anything.  I do not induce any type of arm fatigue (be careful with overdoing it on the keyboard!!! take lots of breaks).

    - I drink lots and lots of water/herbal teas.  I order club soda as my drink of choice in restaurants, I gave up other pops and this helped.

    - I limit myself to 1-2 alcoholic drinks per WEEK (oddly enough Strongbow Apple Cider/Coors Light are fine, but wine makes my arm hurt)

    I think our bodies continue to mend over time, and that this healing takes much much longer then anyone anticipates (or talks about).

    I will leave everyone with this thought... have faith in yourself and in your body.  Talk to your body in a loving and kind way, and encourage it to be well.  

    I wish everyone all the very best.  Love your sister...

  • Daninayd
    Daninayd Member Posts: 21

    T9Jorda, thank you for your update. I am one year out of my BM surgery and in December of 2013 after shoveling snow my underarm swelled a bit. My whole arm was aching and the swelling did not go away for awhile. What helped me was not the sleeve but the manual lymphatic drainage massage, which I did pretty much every hour for a few weeks.

    I have noticed that tight bras also make things worse for me. I wearing Barely There bras, that are more like camisoles top and these also made a difference for me. In addition, I had miofacial release massage that took care of some of the adhesions I had on my chest and underarms.

    I was able to fly recently, (only 4 hours) without a sleeve and I had to problems. What triggers problems for me is overusing my arm. So I have been watching out not to tire my arms.

    I am hopeful now that I can keep the lymphedema under control.

  • glennie19
    glennie19 Member Posts: 4,831

    I love going braless, but my remaining breast needs some support. And now that I have truncal LE, I need some compression help there. Mainly to keep the swell spots in place! Any suggestions on that are welcome! It's difficult to find a balance between compression the LE area and not squashing the remaining breast too much.

  • coffeelatte
    coffeelatte Member Posts: 109

    This has been a great thread to read.  I am one year out (today) from a double mastectomy and I have struggled to find a bra and foob combination that will work.  This thread reinforced what I was realizing on my own - the bras I have been trying to wear are definitely making my lymphedema flare.  I bought two new ones two weeks ago and have been wearing each one.  Both of them fit really nice and look great, yet after wearing them for a few days, I had to cut it down to half days, then no bra.  They seem to make my left arm swell and ache after wearing only 30 minutes now.  It would start with pain in the shoulder blade, chest and shoulder.  I did not make the bra-lymphedema connection for almost two weeks, then I searched for past threads and found this one.  It does really help to not feel so alone.  I want to wear my lightweight foam foobs but I do not know what camisole to try.  Several of the ones mentioned at the beginning of this post do not seem to be available anymore.  I can't wear anything too tight because it triggers my GERD to act up.  What are ladies wearing today?  Maybe I should buy a mastectomy camisole and cut the bottom off as one sister mentioned.