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Topic: No Bra = No Lymphedema

Forum: Lymphedema — Risks, tips for prevention, and info about products that can address the symptoms of lymphedema.

Posted on: Jul 6, 2009 01:05PM

t9jorda wrote:

Background:  June 2006 I awoke from my breast cancer surgery with lymphedema .... wore a compression sleeve for almost 2 years.   Success:  Then the BIG discovery!...which was totally by fluke.  I switched from wearing a bra, to wearing a cami that had really good underwire breast cups.  In less then a week I no longer needed to wear a compression sleeve, and my arm no longer hurt.  I suspect that with a regular bra that the banding must have prevented the flow of lymph fluid somehow.  To test that theory, I have tried several times to wear a "regular" bra again... and each time I have had the same result... arms swells and hurts in just a few hours... and I can't wait to take it off.   
Just for the record, I do still get lymphedema "pain alerts and mild swelling" when I lift things that are too heavy, or garden for too long... so I know it is still lurking there... as long as I do things in moderation and drink lots of water (along with no bras), I have been able to maintain my successful handling of this medical condition.   I hope my unscientific findings help you too, this small change in my wardrobe has made a big, big difference in my life.    Best Wishes tj 
Dx 5/12/2006, IDC, <1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/10 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Aug 20, 2014 06:14PM ahdjdbcjdjdbkf wrote:

I'm back to loping for answers after a flare-up. I think I wore a sweater too tight in the arm puta for a long work day or I did it at the gym. Interesting that it was a cami with a wire that improved things. The wire camis typically look much better. I orders some spanx tanks today to try.  Those are wireless. 

Dx 3/2/2012, IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/12 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (FISH) Dx 3/2/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/12 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Surgery 3/23/2012 Mastectomy: Left, Right Chemotherapy 4/6/2012 AC + T (Taxol) Targeted Therapy 6/28/2012 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Radiation Therapy 10/8/2012 3DCRT: Breast, Lymph nodes Surgery 1/28/2013 Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Surgery 8/7/2013 Reconstruction (right): Latissimus dorsi flap Surgery 8/7/2013 Reconstruction (left) Surgery 2/25/2014 Reconstruction (left): Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction
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Apr 19, 2015 05:24PM ucfmom wrote:

I know this was started a few years ago but I'm glad to have come across it. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and will be asking for a referral to see a LE therapist for an assessment. I mentioned my arm pain to two doctors last year and neither mentioned the possibility of LE. It took me months to associate wearing a bra with intensified arm pain. I was having so much pain that I was using an ice pack on my arm every day after work and sometimes into the night. It's past time to get something done about this. I stopped wearing a bra a few weeks ago and while the pain is still there, it's more manageable

Dx 2/14/2014, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER-/PR- Surgery 3/19/2014 Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Nipple tattoo, Silicone implant Surgery 4/18/2014
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Apr 19, 2015 08:18PM - edited Apr 19, 2015 08:20PM by t9jorda

Hi there UCFMOM... my heart feels for you. Walking the path to find answers, and knocking on doctors doors saying please help me feel better is just a wee bit frustrating. Getting yourself to an LE specialist will be helpful. If your arm is painful, but not too swollen there are also some other things you can do - "for self-help":

- no more potatoe chips (a.k.a. reduce your salt content as much as you can), read all labels for salt content - even "pop"

- eat lower histamine foods, try taking Quercetin

- alcohol makes it worse (for me light beer I can drink, wine makes it hurt really bad)

- carry a cross over purse and when you are walking elevate your bad arm (hold onto the cross over strap with your bad hand/arm on the strap like you are protecting yourself)

-sit in chairs with an arm rest and keep your hand up and elbow rested on the arm

- do not sunburn that arm/nor bug bites, be very careful even with paper cuts (do not lick a cut, it can make your lymphedema worse)

Basically try any trick you can to get your arm as pain free as possible. Then keep it in that state for as long as you can to give it a chance to get better. Slowly reintroduce things that may cause it to flare up... and this can take a long while. Mine flares only a couple times a year, and it is always one of the above items that trigger it.

I have been able to get myself to a comfort state. I seldom wear "normal bras", but have found other beautiful things to wear, and in truth I actually like them much better.

Good luck to you my friend, I will be thinking of you and sending you wellness wishes. t9jorda

Dx 5/12/2006, IDC, <1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/10 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Mar 5, 2018 01:28PM RayisforRachel wrote:

I know this thread is pretty old but here goes... Any thoughts on a solution for large breasts? I wear a 34 FFF bra and it is pretty much impossible for me to go bra-less or fit into bralettes or shaping camis that just give me uniboob. I am wearing a surgical lymphadema bra at the moment which is working ok but so uncomfortable! Any thoughts ladies?

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Mar 5, 2018 03:21PM t9jorda wrote:

Hi there (I am the one who started this post a long time ago)

I am so glad you found this post because everything I said years ago about wearing a bra vs. not wearing one for Lymphedema relief still is true today for me. It will make 12 years since my journey started and yes, I count my blessings over and over again. I no longer wear a sleeve for lymphedema support - as long as I don't wear anything that constricts tightly around the rib cage area. The compression underwear must go from shoulder to waist area (or longer), in a even type of pressure.

A few years ago I stumbled across a "custom" bra maker in Canada, and I told her of my learnings, and she said that she makes garments for women and could easily make one... (sorry I don't have her card any more)... but I wonder if a tailor could take your bras and convert them somehow. There has got to be a way to do this. Another idea is to look at bathing suits/tops and have them converted to your needs. I can only appreciated how difficult finding products must be for you given your specialized sizing. This is a situation that requires thinking outside the box. I have also found "compression" exercise wear that works for me as well. There is a lot of compression clothing now available in both men's wear and ladies wear... google away to see if something there might work.

I will be honest with you, I do miss having a beautiful bra on... but the pain it immediately creates in my arm is just not worth it. I have had to let go of that and embrace the "new". I have found some compression wear that has lovely colours - I prefer the sleeveless t-shirt kind the best (hint Amazon has lots).

Best wishes for you... there is hope, and you can do this. Hugs to ya!

Dx 5/12/2006, IDC, <1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/10 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Mar 6, 2018 03:09PM Binney4 wrote:

Hi, Ray,

WearEase has a new Torso Compression Vest you might look at:


t9jorda, thanks so much for the update!


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Mar 7, 2018 07:19AM bluepearl wrote:

I reduced my lymphedema with a low carb diet. NOT high protein and not NO carbs. Just removing the simple carbs in favour of vegetables (mainly) and fruit (sparingly). Since most lymphedema is an inflammatory disease, an anti-inflammatory diet like low carb, seems to have worked for me. Also, buck up on magnesium citrate. Works wonders for just about everything. I am reading the Miracle of Magnesium.....

Dx 1/6/2011, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/11/2011 Lymph node removal: Left, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left Dx 2/2013, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 3/9/2013 Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Right Hormonal Therapy 3/17/2013
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Mar 7, 2018 06:44PM dky1977 wrote:

Hi Everyone!

I was diagnosed with lymphedema 2 weeks ago and am currently undergoing treatment. The lymphedema specialist told me to get a compression bra. Would love your thoughts on that, given that so many of you have found that not wearing a bra has helped. I am somewhat overwhelmed by my next steps. I am 36DD, so I need support.

Thank you!

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Mar 7, 2018 10:46PM deedledee wrote:

I am dd as well though a bit thicker around. I got the wear ease cami with cross over front. Work great for me and lower front tops are fine with the depth of the cross over. Actually preferring to wear these instead of a bra. Hopefully insurance will pay for this medical gear as mine did. PT should precribe the compression gear.

Dx 6/23/2017, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (DUAL) Surgery 7/26/2017 Lumpectomy: Right Radiation Therapy 9/5/2017 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Mar 8, 2018 10:09AM dky1977 wrote:

Thank you, @deedledee. I will look into that with my therapist.

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