Breast Cancer Thriver’s Swimsuit Guide

swim suits

Shopping for a swimsuit can bring even the most confident woman to tears, so just imagine how that experience is magnified when shopping for swimwear after breast cancer. No matter what your body type, shopping for a bathing suits after cancer can seem daunting. Your body has changed and you might not be sure where to start. Try to make the shopping experience fun. Bring a friend and make it a day of pampering and fun. The more you can do to set yourself up for success the better.

Shopping for a Swimsuit Online

Hate shopping in stores, consider shopping online. Return and exchange policies are usually very flexible and with you will be able to try items on in the comfort of your home.

As a breast cancer survivor, my body is not what is once was and the styles I used to gravitate toward no longer flatter my body. I have cried in many a fitting rooms starring at an unrecognizable figure before me. Over time, I forced myself to move away from the comparison to my old body. Just like with my hair, I took this as an opportunity to find new styles and try something different. It was through this new outlook that I was able find more confidence. I’ve learned creative ways to style one boob, two boobs, a prosthetics, expanders, and now implants.

I realized it’s not about changing my body, it’s about changing the look.

Note from Lacuna Loft: Check out Anna’s original post for links to specific products!

Lessons Learned: Shopping a Swimsuit After Breast Cancer

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[list_item]Anything with underwire or hard formed cups is out[/list_item]
[list_item]Comfortable fabric and design are a must[/list_item]
[list_item]Patterns, ruffles and details help focus the attention away from a lopsided/uneven chest[/list_item]
[list_item]Higher prices – better quality – more comfortable[/list_item]
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Don’t Feel Limited to Mastectomy Swimsuits

Initially I felt very limited looking for swimwear specifically for mastectomy patients. After a lot of failed searches, I realized that many of the mainstream swimsuits meet all of the criteria above, you just have to do your research. Instead of limiting yourself to surgery specific swimwear, focus on the elements above along with her personal style and you’re bound to find something that works well for your new body. And if you’re overwhelmed by the hunt, do not worry, I have scoured the internet to bring you a ton of amazing options below.

Prosthetic Solutions
For those of you who are looking for a swimsuit with pockets for a prosthetic do not fear. I have provided many pocketed options below. And for those of you looking to save money, take your favorite suit to the tailor and ask them to add a pocket for your prosthesis. I did this with some of my bras during my one boob stage and it was a lifesaver both in terms of comfort and finances

We are all at different stages of treatment and have varying body types, so not all of these styles will be perfect for everyone. I have grouped my recommendations into categories so you can easily find something that fits your particular style and body type. Flat, one boob, two boobs, expanders or implants… whatever your situation, I have you covered. I also included cover-ups and sunscreen recommendations to round out this summer shopping guide.

Survivor Friendly Swimsuits
Check out all of the survivor-friendly swimsuits below and let me know which styles you like best. Remember, don’t try to change yourself for the swimsuit. Instead, keep hunting, try on multiple suits and eventually, you will find a swimsuit that makes you feel fabulous!

Bikinis

bikinis

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[list_item]A high neck top like this adorable black crocheted bikini from Target is perfect for those with expanders, implants or prosthesis. The wide coverage helps disguise any unevenness and scarring, while the high neck creates a flattering shape and highlights the shoulders.[/list_item]
[list_item]A flouncy ruffled bikini top is perfect for those who are flat or at any stage of the reconstruction process. The extra fabric and ruffles help disguise any lumps, bumps or unevenness. Here are a few of these style bikinis I am loving this season: White Flounce Bikini, Stripe Option, Gingham Plus Size (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
[list_item]Anita has a wide-range of underwire free and pocketed swimwear options for those using a breast prosthesis. The design and shaped cups in these suits can also give the bust a flattering look without added discomfort. Check out the Anita website for even more pocketed styles. (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
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Full Coverage Swimsuits

full coverage suits

If you are looking for a little more coverage, you can try a rash guard suit or a full coverage tankini. The best part is most of these options have great coverage for the chest and built-in sun protection. Adorable Palm Print Rash Guard, Long Sleeve swimsuit, Colorblock Tankini, Peplum tankini. (see here for specific items)

Flat/Recovery Swimsuits

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[list_item]Swim Dresses: Looking for a little more coverage and a flattering look during recovery or for those who choose to stay flat? Swim dresses are a great option and they’re perfect for lounging and swimming. These are a few of the styles I am currently loving: Off shoulder style, Paisley Sarong Wrap Swim Dress, Pineapple Party (see here for specific styles)[/list_item]
[list_item]Mastectomy Swim Land’s End is the longtime champion of comfortable mastectomy swimwear for every body type. They have a variety of options that work great for those in the flat crowd or those recovering from surgery. Many of their suits are pocketed and the band free wireless style also works well with expanders. The rash guard shirts shown above are a fan along with their tank suit, which comes in a variety of colors and patterns to fit every style. They also have a wide range of sizes (regular, petite, long, plus & long plus). (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
[list_item]Ruching/Tummy Control: I am in LOVE with ruching and tummy control swimsuits. They are the perfect solution for belly bloating and are just overall slimming for everyone. In the suit shown, I am loving the flattering ruching, and the mesh high neck style, which is perfect for those who are flat or going through a reconstructive transition. Here is another similar version with a floral detail.[/list_item]
[list_item]Cup-Less Suits: Swimsuits without cups and/or tailoring on the top, like the super cute tropical tankini shown will be best for those of you with flat chests. This style will ensure there is no excess fabric and the suit will conform to the chest. This simple tank cut also means fewer seams and thus more comfort for those of you dealing with sensitive skin during recovery. (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
[list_item]Sports Bra-Like Tops: Bikinis with a sports bra style top are great for those with implants or those going flat. The simple design means fewer seams and edges to cut into the skin. This gingham style is adorable and the high waisted bottoms are a win! It fits just like a sports bra and PJ material, but it’s cute enough to rock at the beach or pool. (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
[list_item]Tank Style: Tank swimsuits are another great option for all my flat ladies. They are flattering on all body types and the bright blue poppy pattern in the one above is adorable. The tank swimsuits I have linked are all pocketed and suitable for those with a prosthesis. Solid color, Pattern option, Plus size options. (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
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Sporty Swimsuits

Not everyone is a girlie girl like me, so I wanted to make sure to provide a whole section of swimsuits for those of you looking for the perfect casual, sporty look to fit your personality. These suits are great for all my active ladies.

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[list_item]Outplay This awesome company offers a whole line of swimwear and sportswear for the tomboy in all of us. The best part is you can mix and match their items to find the perfect style for your body. Here is another sport tankini/bikini option from Target (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
[list_item]Nike Want to feel like you threw on your favorite tank and a pair of briefs to go to the beach? Then this is the perfect suit for you. Made by Nike, you know it’s ready for whatever adventure you have planned. (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
[list_item]Lands End Sporty, practical and comfortable, the Tugless tank suit from Land’s End checks all the boxes. Available in huge range of sizes, cup variations (included pocketed), and lengths, this suit will work for any body type at any stage of recovery. (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
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One Shoulder/Off Shoulder Swimsuits

one shoulder suits

I am obsessed with the off the shoulder/one shoulder trend. It is super flattering and sexy. I’ rather show a little shoulder than the cleavage I miss. Ruffles on swimsuits are also great, because they add movement and dimension while concealing the unevenness I am self-conscious about. The off the shoulder/strapless/one shoulder looks were never something I could pull off pre-cancer due to my large chest, so I am taking full advantage now. This style works best with fully healed expanders, implants or flat, but would not accommodate a prosthesis.

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[list_item]J Crew has some adorable off shoulder, one shoulder and ruffle swimsuits. I’m struggling to choose just one. (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
[list_item]La Blanca is my all-time favorite swimsuit brand! Their suits are SO comfortable and flattering. (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
[list_item]ASOS has some adorable styles like this gingham off shoulder bikini (or this one), but keep in mind they run small so size up 2 sizes. (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
[list_item]Hulabelle Swimwear Love my Hulabelle swimsuits created by fellow survivor and Stage IV Thriver. (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
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Detailed Swimsuits

detailed swim suits

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[list_item]Mesh accents are a great way to add a fun flirtatious feel without feeling exposed. Black One Piece, Zig Zag Bikini (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
[list_item]Halter/keyhole cutout styles are perfect for the expander stage. They provide a flattering fit with a hint of cleavage while still disguising any shape or position issues you might have with your rock hard mounds. Check out this one with a criss-cross neck or this one with embroidered detail. (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
[list_item]Deep Plunge is another style to take advantage of when you have foobs or go flat. You don’t have to worry about support and the plunge cut is slimming and flattering. Ruffle Plunge, Floral Halter Plunge, Hot Pink. (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
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Swim CoverUps

Finish off your summer swim look with the perfect cover-up!

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[list_item]Throw on a tie-dye cover up for a fun casual day at the beach or pool. (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
[list_item]The pom pom tassel trend is here to stay. Get playful with a tassel cover up or this pom pom maxi dress. (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
[list_item]I am obsessed with summer prints like a pineapple print cover up or this floral romper that doubles as a cover-up. (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
[list_item]Looking for something that won’t contrast your stick with a simple solid or stripes. (see here for specific items)[/list_item]
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Sunscreen

Don’t forget your SUNSCREEN!!! Protect your skin and look closely at the ingredients in all of your sunscreen and skincare products. All three of these sunscreens have great ratings by the Environmental Working Group and have very clean ingredient lists (EWG ratings 0-3 are ideal). You can also use the EWG search tool and Sunscreen Guide to learn more and review other brands/products.

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[list_item]I discovered the Coola brand through a fellow blogger last year while looking for natural/organic sunscreen alternatives. Be sure to check the EWG rating 2018 Sunscreen Guide for other Coola products and scents, because they are not all items are equally as clean. Also keep an eye out at Marshalls, because many times they have Coola sunscreen on sale.[/list_item]
[list_item]Alba Botanicals makes a lot of great natural beauty products and their sunscreen is another winner.[/list_item]
[list_item]Blue Lizard is an Australia brand that I discovered through my dermatologist. When I was going off all medications and switching to natural beauty in preparation for pregnancy (pre-cancer), this is the only sunscreen he was comfortable recommending.[/list_item]
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I hope you found this exhaustive swimwear shopping guide helpful. For more ideas, check out my older swimwear post. If you end up purchasing any of these items, share your thoughts on the My Cancer Chic Facebook page or on Instagram. I love hearing from you and get feedback on which products work well.

This post was originally published on MyCancerChic.

Let’s Talk Nipples

nipple prostheses

Let’s talk nipples. After a unilateral or bilateral mastectomy, women are left with many choices. To reconstruct, fake it, or stay flat. It all comes down to personal preference. For women who decide to undergo breast reconstruction, the nipple stage can be the icing on the cake — the final step in piecing yourself back together. Though each woman’s reconstruction story is unique and personal, the nipple choices can be boiled down to three main options.

  1. Surgically reconstructed nipples
  2. 3D nipple tattoo
  3. Prosthetic nipples

For some women, the lack of nipples can be quite an emotional struggle. They may look in the mirror and see an unrecognizable image, one that does not look or feel “normal” or complete. Nipples can provide that aesthetic element that is missing and help to bring a sense of confidence during the difficult reconstruction process.

I am slated to have my implant exchange surgery in November and I am not interested in going through another surgery to reconstruct nipples. That leaves me with the choice of 3D tattoos or nipple prosthetics. While at the Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) conference last weekend, I finally got a chance to check out Pink-Perfect nipple prostheses, something I was enamored with since I saw them at the YSC conference back in March. They are just so COOL!

Pink Perfect produces realistic ready-made adhesive silicone nipples for women who have undergone unilateral or bilateral mastectomies. The silicone nipples were designed by a breast cancer survivor and are made by an artist to replicates the shape, size, color and texture of your remaining or original nipple (s) The nipples are waterproof and can be worn in the shower, ocean or swimming pool.

bold-sandy-front

Pink Perfect offers a wide range of colors and projection options (modest, natural or bold). The color options are shown in the image below. I was matched to the color Sandy. If you don’t find a color that matches your body, Pink Perfect will work one-on-one with you to create a custom prosthetic nipple (s) that perfectly matches your body. The custom option is a bit more expensive.

pink-perfect-8

The ready made colors/styles are available for $240 and the custom version is $330. All prices reflect a $40 discount offered for October only. My Cancer Chic followers can also apply a special promo code:mycancerchic to obtain an additional $25 off. Keep in mind that many insurance providers will cover prosthetic nipples. You will need to talk to your plastic surgeon to get a prescription, just like you would for mastectomy bras.

After trying the nipples, I was surprised by how easy they could be applied and how realistic they are. The medical grade adhesive allowed me to wear the nipples throughout a normal day, and while exercising and showering. I think the silicone nipples would be a wonderful option for anyone considering nipple reconstruction. They are pain free, less expensive than surgery and allow you the opportunity to see if nipples provide you a sense of emotional comfort or closure.

pink-perfect-before-and-after-1

After wearing the nipples for a few days, I realized that the nipples did not change the way I felt or the way I saw my body. They were super fun and kind of sexy, but my real nips are gone forever and will never be replaced. I will never be able to breastfeed and what was once a fun zone is now a cemetery. I found that I like being nipple-free. I love going bra-less and I have accepted my appearance post-surgery. It did not happen over night, but I am coming to love this new body of mine. I am rebuilding my own body image and for me, nipples just aren’t going to be a permanent part of the package. I am so grateful for the opportunity to try the prothestics to confirm my decision about not undergoing the nipple reconstruction surgery. Now I have the option to choose nipples like a fashion accessory each day and someday down the line I may get a 3D nipple tattoo.

If you’re interested in nipple reconstruction, I highly suggest you try the nipple prostheses first. If you want to avoid another surgery, these are a great alternative.

If you want to see how the nipple prostheses work and how to apply them, check out this awesome video by the lovely Aniela McGuinness of ‘My Breast Choice’. Also, if you haven’t seen her AMAZING photo series of before and after mastectomy photos, check them out here.

Disclaimer: I was provided with this product for free in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by the company that provided this product.(Lacuna Loft has received no compensation for this product…we just want you to know your options!)

(Lacuna Loft has received no compensation for this product…we just want you to know your options!)

Originally published on mycancerchic.com.