Tops to wear after a double mastectomy

This title feels very blunt…so I guess I’ll continue on with the feeling.

Last month my grandmother had a double mastectomy. We found out 2 weeks prior that she had breast cancer. So the whole thing happened very quickly, and the timing made it tough to [want to] celebrate my birthday.

The surgery went well and when my grandma woke up, she looked around and said, “Well, I guess I’m still here!” Then joked to the doctor, saying that her boobs would grow back. Ha. When you’re close to 90 years old, people have to laugh at your jokes. Or maybe you just get funnier?

family photo

I don’t want this post to bum you out. Instead, I want to address the very real conversation of life after a double mastectomy. Each of us knows someone affected by Breast Cancer, it’s alarming how many people I can count. (including my namesake grandmother, whom I never got to meet)

Not everyone diagnosed has surgery. Not everyone who has a mastectomy has reconstructive surgery. (or as some say, “their boobs put back”) I’ve learned this is a general misconception; you have to choose to have this reconstruction, it isn’t ‘included.’ Remember, it’s not the main purpose of the operation!

Each woman has her own choice to make. For my grandmother, she chose not to [have reconstructive surgery]. This is mainly because of her age—she really doesn’t give a damn if she’s now flat chested. To me and my sister, it was a little odd when we first saw her, post surgery. Our plump Polish ‘Bacia’ wasn’t the shape we grew up loving. And since we are both at the age where we DO care what we look like, it kind of made us rethink the female body and what is its ideal.

i.e. Are you not feminine if you don’t have boobs anymore? I felt ridiculous just writing that. We do put a lot of emphasis on our bra size though. Post surgery, post breast feeding, pre-puberty…us girls can get preoccupied with the size and shape of our top half.

So what if you don’t go Angelina Jolie and instead, stay without breasts? You use similar techniques to that of a small chested women—to add volume to your top so that you visually balance your appearance.


LOFT model wearing dot collared shirt


LOFT model in mint top


model wearing a leopard post mastectomy tank top


In tops, these are your friends:

1. ruffles

2. chest pockets

3. pattern

4. cowl neck

5. scarves

I stumbled upon the site CureDiva and am incredibly impressed. Your arms can swell after surgery and their compression sleeves come in a variety of patterns…kind of makes me want to sport one, just in support.





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4 Responses to Tops to wear after a double mastectomy

  1. Lena, sorry to read about what your grandmother has went through, but I am glad all has turned out well. Great advice.

  2. sally says:

    Biggest problem I have found since my double last year is not having tops “gap” and showing my scars when bending over, something I have learned happens a lot and am probably the most conscious of. I wish your Grandmother well. I have the same outlook about not having boobs and I’m in my late 50’s but never would have thought that when I was younger
    One of these days I will get in my sewing room and come up with something brilliant that covers all my new issues cause I really have always hated cowl necks, patterns and ruffles and can’t be bothered messing with scarves ! Also it is almost impossible to find photos of what looks good actually taken on us flat and fabulous women. Good article, give your Grandmother a hug for me.

    • Lena says:

      Thank you for your comment; I love your attitude! If you ever do design a fabulous & functional top, please let me know about it. Sadly, my grandmother passed away in September. I haven’t yet found the right words to write a blog post worthy enough (to honor her custom clothing business and her character).

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