10 Tips for Choosing Swimwear After a Mastectomy

Following a mastectomy, finding swimwear is the biggest wardrobe challenge for many women. The search for the perfect suit is already difficult for most even before having surgery; looking for a flattering cut that also hides scars and accommodates prostheses makes the hunt even trickier. Luckily, most women find that they can score post-mastectomy swimwear that’s beach-ready if they pay close attention to a few particular features.

Here are a few recommendations for choosing the right swimwear after a mastectomy.

10. Pocketed Swimwear

Women who opt for prostheses have several options for swimsuit styles when summer rolls around. Stores that specialize in prostheses sell mastectomy swimsuits designed to hold prosthetic breast forms, with notable brand options such as Amoena and It Figures. Swimsuits with removable cups or built-in pockets for padding also work, depending on your size and chosen style of breast form. Finally, swimwear shops can often sew a pocket into a suit at your request. If you’re also shopping for prostheses, check out prosthetic swim forms, which are lighter and don’t absorb water like some foam forms.

Woman shopping for a swimsuit
Photo: Adobe Stock/auremar

9. Molded Cups

Molded cups offer a smooth silhouette, which can help women even out differences between breast shapes, and also help camouflage breast forms. As an added bonus, the thick material completely covers nipples, giving a symmetrical look.

Bikini shop
Photo: Adobe Stock/maewshooter

8. Separate Tops

Wearing separate tops and bottoms instead of a one-piece suit lets you mix and match for greater flexibility in sizing and styles. If you opt for breast forms, a tight-fitting top can help keep them in place and prevent shifting. Mixing tops and bottoms also liberates you to make bold color pairings or create multiple looks from just a few sets.

Article continues below

Our Featured Programs

See how we’re making a difference for People, Pets, and the Planet and how you can get involved!

Photo: Flickr/micadew

7. High Necklines

A high neckline can help hide scars that creep above low-cut swimwear. Bathing suits favored by competitive swimmers often feature a high neckline for a streamlined silhouette. Necklines with ruffles or netting can produce the same effect with more fashion-forward style. Depending on the placement of your scars, you may find that you can pull off plunge-necks with a narrow V-shape, which show some skin without exposing the breasts.

Photo: Pixabay

6. Bottom Coverage

If your scars run lower, you may find one-piece swimsuits provide more reliable cover than bikinis. Tankinis and longer bandeaus offer the same coverage for more shopping options.

Photo: Flickr/Sirens Swimwear

5. High Arm Openings

Mastectomies may leave scars that curve upward into the armpit region. Swimwear with higher sides and arm openings can offer more coverage, along with the added benefit of hiding bulges for a smoother profile.

Photo: Flickr/Hypnotica Studios Infinite

4. Adjustable Straps and Halters

Adjustable straps provide a custom fit that can hold breast forms securely in place and let you balance your breasts by raising one strap higher or lower as needed. Halter tops are another good bet, making it easy to adjust strap length, raise the neckline, and tie everything tight.

Photo: Flickr/Steven Leonti

3. Bold Prints

Splashy prints in vivid hues grab attention and divert the eyes from other areas. If you’re feeling self-conscious, consider bottoms in bright colors like neons, and pair them with a neutral top to pull the focus away from the chest area.

Photo: Pixabay

2. Cute Backs

Some women find that whether they wear forms or not, they don’t need as much front support as they did before their mastectomy. You can embrace the silver lining by opting for looks that you couldn’t wear pre-surgery, such as spaghetti staps, bandeaus, and tops with flashy backs.

Photo: Flickr/Hypnotica Studios Infinite

1. Going Flat

Breasts aren’t the only physical attribute that make women look feminine, and beach life doesn’t have to end if you decide to forgo reconstruction and prostheses. A range of swimsuit styles exist to help you feel comfortable and even downright sexy when you go flat. You can try zippered suits, or suits featuring cut-out side panels, fringed tops, and ruched detailing.

Photo: Flickr/Randy

Give yourself permission to put your own comfort first when you walk into the dressing room. For some women, scars are proof of their resilience, while for others, they represent a personal victory that they prefer to keep private. Do whatever feels right for you, and remember that even women who haven’t undergone surgery often feel self-conscious in their swimsuits, so you aren’t alone. A robe or other cover-up can lend a little security if it’s your first day back on the beach.

Provide Mammograms

Support those fighting Breast Cancer at The Breast Cancer Site for free!