Suits that help your holiday go swimmingly! This swimsuit is designed for women who’ve had a mastectomy – just one of the clever cossies for people with a medical condition
- Swimwear is one of the first things we pack for a summer holiday int he sunshine
- But, if you’re going away after surgery, the standard options may be unsuitable
- Angela Epstein asked the experts to assess the styles that address these needs
FOR AFTER MASTECTOMY
Lands’ End Mastectomy Tugless Swimsuit, £18, landsend.co.uk
New design: The ‘tugless’ costume is so-called because the straps are wider than usual, so won’t fall down
CLAIM: This swimsuit is made from nylon and elastane, has a soft-cup bra with pockets for prostheses and is designed for patients following a mastectomy.
The ‘tugless’ costume is so-called because the straps are wider than usual, so won’t fall down, and the modest cut means the swimsuit doesn’t need pulling back into place every few minutes — making it more comfortable for women who’ve had a mastectomy if they are sore.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘The softness of the cups will be helpful in case of any tenderness from scars,’ says Mr Barr. ‘Some women may have aching shoulders if they have had surgery on lymph nodes under the arm, so the tugless straps will help, as they don’t have to be adjusted and simply stay in place.
‘There is also a printed option, which will help distract from any unevenness of shape.’
Chlorine Resistant Swimsuit, £36, nicolajane.com
Secure: This 100 per cent polyester swimsuit has a high neck and ‘is fully pocketed for a secure swim’
CLAIM: Designed for those who have had a single or double mastectomy, this 100 per cent polyester swimsuit has a high neck and ‘is fully pocketed for a secure swim’, with pockets on the breasts for prostheses.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘It’s important to return to healthy eating and exercise as soon as you can after recovery from a mastectomy — and swimming is an especially good form of exercise, as it is gentle, but effective,’ says Lester Barr, a consultant breast cancer surgeon at The Christie private hospital in Manchester.
‘This swimsuit is well designed for these patients, as it has a high neck, which is useful for covering scars, and pockets for breast prostheses.
‘The polyester should be comfortable against scar tissue, too. If you have an irregularity, a patterned suit might be better, as it would distract from this.’
Anita Care Alba Bikini, £86.40, chantillyonline.co.uk
Helpful: This bikini is cut higher on the décolleté and under the arms to conceal any scars and breast prostheses
CLAIM: This bikini is cut higher on the décolleté and under the arms to conceal any scars and breast prostheses. It also features adjustable straps and side staves — fabric at the sides to give extra support and hold — a 360-degree breast lining and supportive boning.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘For a woman to be able to wear a bikini after a mastectomy is wonderful, as it denotes real confidence,’ says Mr Barr. ‘A woman who has had flap surgery, which involves taking a section of tissue from one area of your body — most often your abdomen — and relocating it to create a new breast mound, may have a scar that can’t be hidden by the bikini, but that will be a matter of personal preference.
‘There is also good support from the side fabric.’
Post Surgery Secret Slimming Bandeau Swimsuit, £29.50, marksandspencer.com
Classy: This one-piece swimsuit for women who have had surgery features a touch of padding for a sleek silhouette
CLAIM: This one-piece swimsuit for women who have had surgery features a touch of padding for a sleek silhouette, added stretch for comfort and a figure-hugging fit, says the manufacturer.
It has ‘Secret Slimming technology’ that gently smooths and shapes the stomach and bust.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘After breast surgery, many women want something that gives shape and some added padding,’ says Mr Barr. ‘This would tick those boxes.
‘The wraparound style around the bust would also disguise irregularities, but I am unclear as to what the “Secret Slimming technology” involves and how beneficial it would be.’
Men’s Incontinence Swim Shorts, £34.95, completecareshop.co.uk
Help: These swimming shorts are for men with urinary or faecal incontinence
CLAIM: The shorts provide discreet protection for the user while swimming. They have built-in waterproof pants that contain any accidents, while still looking and feeling like ordinary swim shorts. An elastic tape around the waistband and adjustable leg holes allow for the best possible fit and ensure maximum comfort.
EXPERT VERDICT: These swimming shorts are for men with urinary or faecal incontinence, says Professor Chris Eden, a consultant urological surgeon at the Royal Surrey County Hospital.
‘I think they are an excellent idea, allowing men with these conditions to confidently swim without drawing attention to themselves by wearing something outlandish. They wouldn’t look out of place at any swimming pool, lakeside or beach.’
Men’s Wrap Swim Shorts, £42.99, ageukincontinence.co.uk
For men: The shorts provide discreet protection for the user while swimming
CLAIM: These contain an inner waterproof swim pant that is ideal, says the maker, for keeping solids inside the shorts. They have buttons down each side for quick and easy changing.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘The shorts are described as being suitable for patients with faecal, but not urinary, incontinence, so that limits their use, as they may not be tight or absorbent enough,’ says Professor Eden.
‘The buttons could make them quick and easy when changing. They look like ordinary swim shorts, so are not obtrusive, which will be good for patients.’
Skirted Swimsuit, £39.99, ageukincontinence.co.uk
Discreet: Uniquely designed, says the manufacturer, for a comfortable and secure fit for those with faecal incontinence
CLAIM: Uniquely designed, says the manufacturer, for a comfortable and secure fit for those with faecal incontinence, this swimsuit is made from Lycra to hold it close to the body. It has an inner waterproof swim pant to prevent leaks. The leg cuffs and waist feature fully adjustable straps to prevent leakage.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘Those who have incontinence need confidence to go into the water and will often fear leakages,’ says Colin Elton, a consultant colorectal surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital in London. ‘This suit appears to have a comfortable, secure fit, thanks to the elastic fabric and waterproof pant. The elasticated waist also holds it close to the body, which creates a feeling of security.
‘The Lycra may feel tight for some people, though it might boost confidence against leakage for the same reason. The skirt is a nice touch for concealing bulging and adding confidence.’ 9/10
Latex-free Sweetheart Tank One-piece Swimsuit, £81, hemphuggers.com
CLAIM: This swimsuit is made from handcrafted latex-free hemp, 43 per cent organic cotton and 3 per cent latex-free Lycra, to prevent reactions in people who are allergic to latex.
EXPERT VERDICT: Latex allergy is a reaction to certain proteins found in natural rubber latex, a product made from the rubber tree, says Joanna Gach, a consultant dermatologist at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.
‘It affects around one in 1,000 people in the UK, and symptoms may include hives, itching and a stuffy or runny nose.
‘There may be a place for this product, especially in people who suffer from multiple allergies and have high sensitivity to latex. It is, however, very expensive.’ 6/10
Jessica Swimsuit, £39, white-rosecollection.co.uk
Dignified: This has an inner pocket to keep a stoma bag secure — which can cause irritation — and stop it dropping down the leg
CLAIM: This has an inner pocket to keep a stoma bag secure and away from the skin — which can cause irritation — and stop it dropping down the leg. It has a double-lined front panel to provide a smoother outline, a lightly gathered front and removable straps.
EXPERT VERDICT: A stoma is an opening on the abdomen connected to either the digestive or urinary system to allow waste to be diverted out of the body into a ‘pouch’ or ‘ostomy bag’ on the outside of the body, says Mr Elton.
More than 102,000 people in the UK have a stoma and will wear a stoma bag either temporarily or permanently.
‘Stoma patients often feel that they have something “protruding” and thus feel self-conscious, which makes swimsuits uncomfortable,’ adds Mr Elton.
‘The pattern of this garment, together with the double-lined pouch, would help create a feeling of comfort and security.
‘It doesn’t look too tight, either, so the patient can easily wear a belt underneath, which is needed to secure the stoma bag.’
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