Women can be extremely vulnerable after breast surgery. The boost to their self confidence and self-esteem from having a really good bra fit can be enormous. It is absolutely crucial to have a good bra fitting as soon as possible after surgery, in fact I would encourage all women to have a bra fitting BEFORE their surgery.
There are, at present, no specific qualifications for bra fitting and the level of expertise varies widely depending on the fitter you happen to see. As a result it is difficult to know the level of service you are getting. The following points relate directly to post-surgery bra fitting and the level of expertise you should expect. Anything less than this, in my opinion, is absolutely unacceptable.
Almost 80% of ladies are said to be in the wrong bra size – some of this is not just down to the individual woman’s ignorance or apathy but also down to wrong advice at the time of fitting. Many ladies do not experience a professional bra fitting until they are forced into the situation (pregnancy and surgery are two of the main reasons).
I see so many women who have either been fitted incorrectly (or not fitted at all), it is such a small thing but getting it right can make a real difference. It sounds almost silly, but time after time I have seen women walk out of my shop looking taller, and with a spring in their step.
So what should you look for, to be confident you are getting a really professional fit.
* At the first point of contact the fitter should be observing the customer’s body shape, breast shape, bone structure, fat density, body length and approximate age (e.g.: Sloping shoulders, narrow shoulders, short measurement from apex to shoulder point, and obviously the type of surgery and how much breast tissue has been removed)
* They should also be aware that it is important to make the customer feel at ease, as bra fitting can be an intimidating experience for some women, especially after surgery. It is also an advantage to have a separate relaxed seating area close to the fitting room for friends or relatives. Many ladies will bring along family members for moral support and it’s so important for them to be near but not too close that they can hear your conversation while fitting.
* The fitter should sensitively ask about the customer’s requirements ( what surgery they have undergone, when it was undertaken, any concerns with fit and importantly previous favourite styles)
* They should also ask what size/style the client normally wore prior to surgery.
* The fitter should be in ‘friendly’ and ‘approachable’ mode. Try not to invade the customer’s space when talking to her.
* The fitter should not discuss the suitability of the customer’s current underwear, unless asked to do so.
* For ladies who have prosthesis, the fitter should never suggest that the breast form seems to be the wrong size; the customer can come to her own conclusion or specifically ask your advice. It is always best to refer the client back to her breast care nurse or G.P.
* The fitting room should be private, with good lighting and large enough for two people. It should also have a comfortable chair as we could be dealing with ladies who may feel tired, hot or faint.
* Often ladies can become upset and you will need tissues at the ready. Also ladies may be going through a forced menopause, due to the drugs they may be taking, so do not have the fitting room too hot. A fan should always be handy
* A large table or shelf is needed to lay breast forms on and some cami/ vest tops to try on over the bra to truly see bust shape.
* The changing room should contain also a full length mirror. (This should be discretely covered or rotated as some post surgery ladies have not yet looked at scars etc.)
* An experienced fitter may not require a tape measure – some will measure the underband, some may require both measurements to diagnose size.
* The fitter needs to take into account what stage of surgery the customer is. Fluid often needs to be drained, lymphoedema can occur as well as numbness which can affect a customer’s decision making ability and tender scar areas or numbness.
* The fitter should then select a full-cup bra for the customer to try on, in order to ensure the size is correct. This is essential if you are have a lady who needs a bra for her first prosthesis fitting
* The fitter should also ensure that the underband is fastened on the loosest fastening, as wash and wear will ensure the underband ‘gives’ over a short period of time and check strap lengths.
* The fitter should check the underband is a secure but comfortable fit, the centre front fits close to the body and high enough to cover lost breast tissue and the side wing is deep enough.
* The fitter should take the opportunity to explain what to look for so far as fitting is concerned, when buying a bra.
* The fitter should then select a range of different bras for the customer to try on. It is advisable that the fitter sees each bra on the customer, in order to advise which has the best fit.
* Finally, the fitter should be flexible to the customer’s requirements and expect that some customers will not always take their advice.
I know that sounds like an awful lot to expect – but that is what you should be looking for. If you are not getting this service you are in the wrong shop, talking to the wrong person. Why shouldn’t you expect the best.