A breast cancer diagnosis and treatment can lead to all kinds of body issues for women, which make stepping out in swimwear a potentially daunting prospect. But this shouldn’t put you off going on holiday – rest, relaxation and sunshine is good for body and soul!
Choosing a stylish and well-fitted swimsuit is a must to help boost confidence, and there are specialist brands and retailers who offer swimwear is all sorts of styles and colours that is specifically designed for post-mastectomy wear. These will come with integrated pockets to hold breast forms and be cut to hide any scarring.
You can also buy prostheses that are designed for swimming and other holiday activities. Retailers such as Eloise Lingerie or Nicola Jane provide a range of these.
To give you an idea of this season’s mastectomy swimwear collections, we’ve picked five of our favourite styles include swimsuits, bikinis and tankinis. And don’t forget, you may be eligible for a VAT exemption on your purchase.
This classic black suit from Anita Care has some really lovely detailing as well as discreet tummy control. The ruched side panels are flattering and the stone buttons are a nice, subtle touch. It is pocketed both sides with firm support for comfort.
Buy: sizes 32-42 A-D, £66. Available online from woods-online.co.uk or order the Eloise catalogue for the full Anita Care swimwear range. Call 0845 2255 080 for your copy.
Nicola Jane offers a wide range of post surgery swimwear from its own line as well as selected brands, and we love the bright, summery feel of this Pretty Peony bandeau bikini. Great for line-free tanning and it comes with fitted pockets.
Buy: sizes 32-42, £34.99 ex VAT. Nicola Jane.
Jamu Australia is another specialist brand and one that prides itself on offering mastectomy designs that don’t compromise on fashion. This Elena ruched tankini has a gorgeous cross back which looks fab and offers good support, and comes with hidden pockets.
Buy: sizes 8-14, top, £98, brief, £26. Figleaves.com.
A swimsuit to stand out in, this tropical print Jamaica swimsuit from Amoena is bright and fun. It has bilateral pockets and adjustable straps so can get the fit just right, and there’s also a matching beach tunic.
Buy: sizes 34-42 B-C, £45 ex VAT. Amoena.co.uk.
Sunflair specialises in amazing prints, and this rainbow coloured swimsuit is not only eye-popping but will distract from any imperfections! It has a high neckline and fitted pockets and is fully lined for comfort and confidence.
Buy: sizes 34-40 B-D, £87 ex VAT. Nicola Jane.
Claiming your VAT exemption
Don’t forget, if you have had breast surgery for medical reasons you are eligible for a VAT exemption on certain products, which means you don’t have to pay the 20% VAT on mastectomy swimwear, lingerie and breast forms that you are buying for your personal use.
However, you do have to certify that you have undergone surgery for breast cancer in order to be eligible, and retailers will be able to provide you with a form for this. You can do this in store at most retailers that stock specialist ranges, but if you are buying online, each retailer may handle it slightly differently. Some will send you a form with your order to fill in and return, others offer a downloadable form on their websites that can be completed and sent back and others will have an online form to fill in.
It might sound fiddly, but a 20% saving is a 20% saving, and specialist mastectomy products can be expensive. If you are unsure of what to do, always check with the retailer and they will be able to help you.