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Publication numberUS20020102913 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/773,171
Publication dateAug 1, 2002
Filing dateJan 31, 2001
Priority dateJan 31, 2001
Publication number09773171, 773171, US 2002/0102913 A1, US 2002/102913 A1, US 20020102913 A1, US 20020102913A1, US 2002102913 A1, US 2002102913A1, US-A1-20020102913, US-A1-2002102913, US2002/0102913A1, US2002/102913A1, US20020102913 A1, US20020102913A1, US2002102913 A1, US2002102913A1
InventorsKathryn Courtney, Reeta Casey
Original AssigneeCourtney Kathryn A., Casey Reeta G.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Mastectomy brassiere
US 20020102913 A1
Abstract
A mastectomy brassiere, comprising: a member adapted to encircle a torso; a first cup on the member adapted to support a reconstructed breast having an unnaturally firm implant, the first cup being adjustable to comform in shape at least in part to the reconstructed breast; and, a second cup on the member adapted to support a natural breast, the second cup having padding for urging the natural breast to conform in appearance to the reconstructed breast with the unnaturally firm implant, whereby the brassiere can be custom tailored to support natrual and reconstructed breasts differing significantly from one another in firmness, yet impart to the natural and reconstructed breasts an appearance of similar firmness. The brassiere can further comprise: a deformable support wire for adjusting the partial perimeter of the first cup to conform to the partial perimeter of the reconstructed breast; and, padding in the second cup for urging the natural breast to conform in appearance to the reconstructed breast. A method for fitting a brassiere to mastectomy patients is also disclosed.
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Claims(18)
What is claimed is:
1. A mastectomy brassiere, comprising:
at least one member adapted to at least partially encircle a torso;
a first cup adapted to support a reconstructed breast having an unnaturally firm implant, said first cup being adjustable to conform in shape at least in part to said reconstructed breast; and,
a second cup adapted to support a natural breast, said second cup having padding for urging said natural breast to conform in appearance to said reconstructed breast with said unnaturally firm implant,
whereby said brassiere can be custom tailored to support natural and reconstructed breasts differing significantly from one another in firmness, yet impart to said natural and reconstructed breasts an appearance of similar firmness.
2. The brassiere of claim 1, further comprising:
a pocket in contact with said torso when said brassiere is worn, said pocket at least partially encircling said first cup along a partial perimeter of said first cup and said reconstructed breast; and,
a deformable support wire disposed in said pocket for adjusting said partial perimeter of said first cup to conform to said partial perimeter of said reconstructed breast.
3. The brassiere of claim 2, wherein said second cup comprises padding for urging said natural breast to conform in appearance to said reconstructed breast.
4. The brassiere of claim 1, wherein said second cup comprises padding for urging said natural breast to conform in appearance to said reconstructed breast.
5. The brassiere of claim 1, wherein said member comprises:
a first modular member adapted to partially encircle said torso and having a first part of a first releasable clasp and a first part of a second releasable clasp at opposite ends thereof, said first modular member supporting one of said first and second cups; and,
a second modular member adapted to partially encircle said torso and having a second part of said first releasable clasp and a second part of said second releasable clasp at opposite ends thereof, said second modular member supporting the other one of said first and second cups,
whereby said first and second modular members can be manufactured separately and thereafter mixed and matched to facilitate said custom tailored arrangement.
6. The brassiere of claim 3, wherein said member comprises:
a first modular member adapted to partially encircle said torso and having a first part of a first releasable clasp and a first part of a second releasable clasp at opposite ends thereof, said first modular member supporting one of said first and second cup; and,
a second modular member adapted to partially encircle said torso and having a second part of said first releasable clasp and a second part of said second releasable clasp at opposite ends thereof, said second modular member supporting the other one of said first and second cups,
whereby said first and second modular members can be manufactured separately and thereafter mixed and matched to facilitate said custom tailored arrangement.
7. The brassiere of claim 5, wherein each of said first and second modular members further comprises a shoulder strap.
8. The brassiere of claim 7, wherein each of said first and second modular members and their respective shoulder straps are disposed only on opposite side of said torso.
9. The brassiere of claim 6, wherein each of said first and second modular members further comprises a shoulder strap.
10. The brassiere of claim 9, wherein each of said first and second modular members and their respective shoulder straps are disposed only on opposite side of said torso.
11. The brassiere of claim 1, wherein said second cup comprises a pocket on an interior side thereof closest to said breast, said pocket being adapted to receive at least one pad, and further comprising at least one pad insertable into said pocket so as to urge said natural breast to conform in appearance to said at least one breast.
12. A modular brassiere, comprising:
a pair of complementary straps, each adapted to only partially encircle a torso;
a pair of releasable clasps, each having mating portions on different ones of said pair of straps;
a breast supporting cup mounted on each one of said pair of straps; and,
said pair of straps being connectable to one another by respective engagement of said pair of releasable clasps to fully encircle said torso and form a complete brassiere.
13. The modular brassiere of claim 12, wherein said breast supporting cups differ in at least one of size and shape.
14. A brassiere, comprising:
a torso encircling strap;
breast supporting cups disposed on said strap;
a pocket in contact with said torso when said brassiere is worn, said pocket at least partially encircling one of said cups along a partial perimeter of said one cup and said breast supported by said one cup; and,
a deformable support wire disposed in said pocket for adjusting said partial perimeter of said one cup to conform to said partial perimeter of said breast and said breast supported by said one cup.
15. The brassiere of claim 14, wherein at least one of said cups is padded are padded.
16. The brassiere of claim 14, comprising a second pocket in contact with said torso when said brassiere is worn, said second pocket at least partially encircling the other one of said cups along a partial perimeter of said other cup and said breast supported by said other cup.
17. The brassiere of claim 16, wherein both said cups are padded.
18. A method for fitting a brassiere to a natural breast and a reconstructed breast, comprising the steps of:
providing a brassiere having at least one member adapted to at least partially encircle a torso; a first cup adapted to support a reconstructed breast having an unnaturally firm implant, said first cup being adjustable to conform in shape at least in part to said reconstructed breast; and a second cup adapted to support a natural breast, said second cup having padding for urging said natural breast to conform in appearance to said reconstructed breast with said unnaturally firm implant;
fitting said brassiere to support natural and reconstructed breasts differing significantly from one another in firmness, yet imparting to said natural and reconstructed breasts an appearance of similar firmness.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] This invention relates to clothing accessories. More particularly, this invention relates to a mastectomy brassiere specifically adapted to support breasts with and without implants, for example, used in surgical breast reconstruction.

[0003] 2.Description of Related Art

[0004] The traditional brassiere is made with the assumption that the person wearing the brassiere has breasts that are the same size and shape. However, the left and right breasts of a person may not be symmetrical for many reasons. For example, the person may have undergone a mastectomy operation in which all or part of one or both breasts is removed. In this situation, the person originally may have had symmetrical breasts, but the mastectomy operation changed the size and/or shape of one or both of the breasts.

[0005] The wearer of a traditional brassiere by a person having asymmetrical breasts, particularly as resulting from a mastectomy, suffers discomfort and often embarrassment. A traditional brassiere usually simply does not properly fit a reconstructed breast, even if the size and cup are properly fitted according to conventional practice. More importantly, for many cancer victims, a natural breast and a reconstructed breast just don't look the same under clothing, or when partially exposed by certain dress and blouse designs, even though a traditional brassiere is thought to be properly fitted.

[0006] The problem doesn't stem from the fact that the natural and reconstructed breasts are different in size or shape, although that is possible, because surgeons are actually quite adept at matching size and shape in the reconstructed breast. The problem lies elsewhere, but has not been recognized until now.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] The recognition of the true nature of the problem is an aspect of the inventive arrangements taught herein. The problem does not lie primarily in mismatching the size and shape of natural and reconstructed breasts, but in the fact that the implants in the reconstructed breasts are unnaturally firm as compared to the natural breast. Breasts are largely fatty tissue which is not necessarily fully self supporting. A breast will change in shape and size, and therefore in appearance, depending upon a woman's stance, posture and position, sitting, standing or lying down. When both of a woman's breasts are natural, this change in appearance affects both breasts in the same way, and the change in appearance is still natural in appearance. However, a reconstructed breast has an implant, and the implant is firmer than the tissues of a natural breast; actually, much firmer. The implant is so much firmer that even when a woman is standing, the reconstructed breast is much less likely to be influenced by gravity, even without the support of a brassiere. Moreover, the appearance of the reconstructed breast is less likely to change, in concert with the natural breast, as the woman's stance, posture and position change as explained above. The unnatural firmness of the reconstructed breast proves to be the reason that properly fitted brassieres of the prior art don't fit and aren't comfortable to wear and don't look right under clothes.

[0008] Having recognized the underlying problem, mastectomy brassieres in accordance with the inventive arrangements provide different cups for natural and reconstructed breasts. One cup can be fitted to a reconstructed breast, for example with a deformable under-wire, to conform the shape of the cup to the fullness at the base of the breast. This provides great comfort, and recognizes that the reconstructed breast is so firm that conventional efforts to change its shape are not appropriate. The cup must be adapted to the reconstructed breast. The other cup is provided with padding, so that the natural breast can be urged into a shape which closely matches the appearance of the reconstructed breast, particularly under clothing, even when the breasts are partially exposed by such clothing. The natural breast is less firm, and accordingly, the padding which is ordinarily used in padded brassieres can be used for this purpose without discomfort.

[0009] The need to provide different cups, and the fact that mastectomies are not limited only to the left or right side of the body, resulted in another aspect of the inventive arrangements, namely a modular construction for brassieres, wherein brassieres can be manufactured in left and right sides and thereafter mixed and matched as appropriate. This construction can easily cope with those instances where size and shape differences are also problems. This construction is also particularly appropriate, for the first time, for women whose breasts are in fact of a differing size and/or shape for reasons other than surgical reconstruction.

[0010] The need to provide specially adaptable cups for reconstructed breasts, and the fact that mastectomies are not limited only to the left or right side of the body, resulted in yet another aspect of the inventive arrangements, namely a brassieres having adjustable under-wires, apart from the problems raised by surgical procedures and natural anomalies. A women with two reconstructed breasts, for example, might not need any padded cups at all, but would be grateful indeed for an adjustable under-wire for each reconstructed breast. The same is true of women whose breasts are firmer for other reasons, for example surgical enhancement.

[0011] A mastectomy brassiere in accordance with an inventive arrangement comprises: a member adapted to encircle a torso;

[0012] a first cup on said member adapted to support a reconstructed breast having an unnaturally firm implant, said first cup being adjustable to conform in shape at least in part to said reconstructed breast; and, a second cup on said member adapted to support a natural breast, said second cup having padding for urging said natural breast to conform in appearance to said reconstructed breast with said unnaturally firm implant, whereby said brassiere can be custom tailored to support natural and reconstructed breasts differing significantly from one another in firmness, yet impart to said natural and reconstructed breasts an appearance of similar firmness.

[0013] The brassiere can advantageously further comprise: a pocket in contact with said torso when said brassiere is worn, said pocket at least partially encircling said first cup along a partial perimeter of said first cup and said reconstructed breast; and, a deformable support wire disposed in said pocket for adjusting said partial perimeter of said first cup to conform to said partial perimeter of said reconstructed breast.

[0014] Advantageously, the second cup can comprise padding for urging said natural breast to conform in appearance to said reconstructed breast. The padding can be in the form of an insert that can be attached to the cup, as by placing the padding into a pocket formed in the cup.

[0015] The brassiere can advantageously be embodied in modular form, wherein said member comprises: a first modular member adapted to partially encircle said torso and having a first part of a first releasable clasp and a first part of a second releasable clasp at opposite ends thereof, said first modular member supporting one of said first and second cup; and, a second modular member adapted to partially encircle said torso and having a second part of said first releasable clasp and a second part of said second releasable clasp at opposite ends thereof, said second modular member supporting the other one of said first and second cups, whereby said first and second modular members can be manufactured separately and thereafter mixed and matched to facilitate said custom tailored arrangement.

[0016] Each of said first and second modular members can further comprise a shoulder strap. Each of said first and second modular members and their respective shoulder straps are disposed only on opposite side of said torso.

[0017] A modular brassiere in accordance with another inventive arrangement comprises: a pair of complementary straps, each adapted to only partially encircle a torso; a pair of releasable clasps, each having mating portions on different ones of said pair of straps; a breast supporting cup mounted on each one of said pair of straps; and, said pair of straps being connectable to one another by respective engagement of said pair of releasable clasps to fully encircle said torso and form a complete brassiere. The breast supporting cups can differ in at least one of size and shape.

[0018] A brassiere in accordance with yet another inventive arrangement comprises: a torso encircling strap; breast supporting cups disposed on said strap; a pocket in contact with said torso when said brassiere is worn, said pocket at least partially encircling one of said cups along a partial perimeter of said one cup and said breast supported by said one cup; and, a deformable support wire disposed in said pocket for adjusting said partial perimeter of said one cup to conform to said partial perimeter of said breast and said breast supported by said one cup.

[0019] The brassiere can comprise a second pocket in contact with said torso when said brassiere is worn, said second pocket at least partially encircling the other one of said cups along a partial perimeter of said other cup and said breast supported by said other cup.

[0020] One or both of the cups can be padded.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0021] Presently preferred embodiments of the inventive arrangements are shown in the drawings, it being understood, however, the inventive arrangements are not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown.

[0022]FIG. 1a is a front elevation of a person wearing a strapless brassiere;

[0023]FIG. 1b is a rear elevation of a person wearing the strapless brassiere;

[0024]FIG. 2a is a front elevation of a person wearing a brassiere with shoulder straps;

[0025]FIG. 2b is a rear elevation of a person wearing the brassiere with shoulder straps;

[0026]FIG. 3 is a front elevation of the brassiere with shoulder straps shown in FIG. 2 separated into modular components;

[0027]FIG. 4a is a front elevation of a person wearing an alternative embodiment of a brassiere with shoulder straps;

[0028]FIG. 4b is a rear elevation of a person wearing the alternative embodiment of the brassiere with shoulder straps; and,

[0029]FIG. 5 is a front elevation of a first cup, partially broken away.

[0030]FIG. 6 is a front elevation, partially in phantom, showing the reconfiguring of a cup having an adjustable underwire according to the invention.

[0031]FIG. 7 is a cross section of a cup having first padding.

[0032]FIG. 8 is a cross section of a cup having second padding.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0033]FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 illustrate a brassiere 10 according to the invention. The brassiere 10, in a presently preferred embodiment which is particularly amenable to easy construction and fitting, comprises a first modular member 12 and a second modular member 14 connected to each other with a first releasable clasp 16 and a second releasable clasp 18. The first releasable clasp 16 is preferably positioned in the front of the torso, and comprises a first and second part 34, 36. The second releasable clasp 18 is preferably positioned in the back of the torso, and also comprises a first and second part 38, 40. The modular members 12, 14 are opposite each other and each partially encircle the torso. Also, the modular members 12, 14 can be separately adapted to support natural and reconstructed breasts, which differ in firmness and appearance, as well as breasts which differ in size or shape for any other reasons. The modular character of the brassiere is only one aspect of the inventive arrangements.

[0034] Unlike brassieres with only one clasp, by having two releasable clasps 16, 18, the modular brassiere 10 can be detached into two separate and distinct members: the first modular member 12 and the second modular member 14. The releasable clasps 16, 18 act to connect the first modular member 12 to the second modular member 14. The first releasable clasp 16 is preferably located adjacent the wearer's chest and between the breasts. The second releasable clasp 18 is preferably located adjacent the wearer's back. This invention is not limited as to the type of releasable clasps 16, 18 used. For example, many types of releasable clasps 16, 18 are well known in the art of brassieres and any of these can be used with this invention.

[0035] By having two releasable clasps 16, 18 the first modular member 12 can be manufactured separate from the second modular member 14 and vice versa. Also, the feature of two releasable clasp 16, 18 allows the modular members 12, 14 to be displayed separately. The buyer of the modular members 12, 14 then has the opportunity, if necessary, to try on different combinations of sizes to find the proper fit. Thus, with this method of display, the task of assembling the first modular member 12 and the second modular member 14 to create the modular brassiere 10 is performed by the buyer.

[0036] Alternatively, the brassiere 10 can be pre-assembled before display, but this increases the total number of separately-sized modular brassieres 10 needed to supply every combination of breast sizes. However, selling the modular members 12, 14 separate from each other reduces the total number of separately-sized modular brassieres 10 needed because a smaller number of separately displayed modular members 12, 14 can be combined to create a large combination of separately-sized modular brassieres 10. Thus, less display space is used to stock a certain number of size combinations when using separate modular members 12, 14 as compared to using pre-assembled modular brassieres 10. Again, the ability to display and sell the modular members 12, 14 separate from each other is made possible by the use of the two releasable clasps 16, 18.

[0037] As illustrated in FIG. 3, the first modular member 12 comprises a first strap member 20 connected to a first cup 24, and the second modular member 14 comprises a second strap member 22 connected to a second cup 26. The first part of the first releasable clasp 34 and the first part of the second releasable clasp 36 are located at opposite ends of the first modular member 12, and the second part of the first releasable clasp 38 and the second part of the second releasable clasp 40 are located at opposite ends of the second modular members.

[0038] Typically, one of the cups 24, 26 is adapted to support a reconstructed breast with an implant of unnatural firmness and the other one of the cups 24, 26 is adapted to support a natural breast. Many different configurations of cups 24, 26 for use in brassieres are well known in the art, and all of these cup configurations can be used. Cups 24, 26 are also made from many different types of material, as is well known in the art, and all of these materials can be used.

[0039] The presently preferred embodiment of the cups 24, 26 uses the same configuration but differing material combinations depending upon whether the cup 24, 26 is supporting a natural breast or supporting a reconstructed breast. The configuration provides that the cup 24, 26 is divided into an upper half 25 and a lower half 27. The term lower half should be interpreted as meaning that, when the lower half is padded to support a natural breast, the padding will urge the natural breast upwardly, and inwardly toward the reconstructed breast. In this manner, the natural breast is given the appearance of the firmness and fullness of the reconstructed breast with the unnaturally firm implant. The cup supporting the reconstructed breast does not require padding to provide shaping, as that function is provided, usually undesirably, by the implant. When the cup 24, 26 is supporting a natural breast, the upper half 25 is preferably made from one layer of fusible polyester fleece and the lower half 27 is made from two layers of fusible polyester fleece. The extra layer provides the padding. The padding can be entirely integrated with the brassiere, or alternatively, the padding can be removably fitted into a receiving pocket within the cup. When the cup 24, 26 is supporting a reconstructed breast, both the upper and lower halves 25, 27 are preferably made from one layer of fusible polyester fleece.

[0040] Many different types of configurations regarding the placement of the strap members 20, 22 relative to the cups 24, 26 are well known in the art, and all can be used. However, the invention is not limited as to any of those particular configurations. FIG. 3 illustrates the presently preferred configuration of the first strap member 20 relative to the first cup 24 (the relation of the second strap member 22 relative to the second cup 26 is preferably a mirror image). In this particular configuration, the first strap member 20 ends where the first strap member 20 is connected to the first cup 24.

[0041] An alternative embodiment of the modular brassiere 10 with a different configuration is illustrated in FIG. 4. In this embodiment the modular brassiere 10 comprises an alternative first strap members 42 and an alternative second strap member 44. With these particular features, the alternative first strap member 42 does not end where the alternative first strap member 42 is connected to the first cup 24. Instead, the alternative first strap member 42 completely extends from the second releasable clasp 18 to the first releasable clasp 16, and the first cup 24 is supported by the alternative first strap member 42. The relation of the alternative second strap member 44 to the second cup 26 is preferably substantially a mirror image.

[0042]FIGS. 2, 3, and 4 illustrate each of the modular members 12, 14 further comprising a shoulder strap 28, 30 having detachable clasps 32 for detaching the shoulder strap 28, 30 from the modular member 12, 14. One purpose of the shoulder straps 28, 30 is to provide additional support for the cups 24, 26. Many types of shoulder straps 28, 30 that provide additional support for the cups 24, 26 are well known in the art, and any can be used for this purpose. Also, the invention is not limited as to any of these types of shoulder strap 28, 30. The presently preferred shoulder strap 28, 30 is padded to provide comfort to the wearer of the modular brassiere 10.

[0043] The detachable clasp 32 allows the shoulder strap 28, 30 to be detached from the modular member 12, 14. Many types of detachable clasps 32 that are acceptable for that function are well known in the art. These are all acceptable; however, the invention is not limited as these types of detachable clasps 32.

[0044]FIG. 5 illustrates the placement of support wires 46, also referred to as under-wires, within one or both of the cups 24, 26. The support wire 46 is disposed within a pocket 48 located adjacent the lower, outer periphery of the first cup 24. The support wire 46 provides additional support for the first cup 24. Support wires 46 of the prior art are typically made from flexible material, and this flexible material allows the support wire 46 to return to its original shape after being flexed.

[0045] In accordance with an inventive arrangement, the wire provided with the cup supporting the reconstructed breast is made from a malleable, deformable material. With a deformable support wire 46, the shape of the first cup 24 can be adjusted to a desired shape by deforming the support wire 46. Advantageously, this enables the cup to be fitted to the firmer shape of a reconstructed breast. In those cases where both breasts are reconstructed, or in those cases where conventional brassieres cannot be fitted properly to two natural breasts, both cups can advantageously be fitted with malleable under-wires to enable the cups to be fitted to the shape of the breasts. It will also be appreciated that providing both cups with malleable wires for natural and reconstructed breasts can also be appropriate in some circumstances.

[0046] The use of an underwire to adjust the shape of a cup is shown in FIG. 6. The wire 46 is malleable and can be bent in the directions shown by the arrows 50 to adjust the configuration of the cup 14 as shown by the phantom lines in FIG. 6.

[0047] The padding that is used to shape the natural breast can be attached to the cup by any of several methods. There is shown in FIG. 7 a pad 54 that is attached to the cup 12 by a lining 58. The lining 58 encases the pad 54 and is sewn to the cup 12 at a line 60. An insertable pad allows the pad to be changed so that different pads can be used with the same cup. This avoids the need to manufacture several different cups, since the cup can be adjusted for different breasts by the insertion of different pads. An insertable pad 64 is shown in FIG. 8. The pad 64 is insertable into a pocket 70 that is provided on an inside surface of the cup 12.

[0048] This invention can be embodied in other forms without departing from the spirit or essential attributes thereof, and accordingly, reference should be had to the following claims, rather than to the foregoing specification, as indicating the scope of the invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7833083Aug 15, 2008Nov 16, 2010Sobah-Wilhelm Mary CBra and/or bra pad for providing the appearance of symmetry to asymmetrical breasts
US8506349Nov 11, 2010Aug 13, 2013Mary C. Sobah-WilhelmBra and/or bra pad for providing the appearance of symmetry to asymmetrical breasts
US20130017760 *Jul 12, 2011Jan 17, 2013Tara Sand KadiumGarments for Post Mastectomy Surgery
US20130125285 *Nov 17, 2011May 23, 2013Mark Spencer G. ChuaAdjustable Chest Drape
WO2008121208A1 *Mar 11, 2008Oct 9, 2008Mary Sobah-WilhelmBra and/or bra pad for providing the appearance of symmetry to asymmetrical breasts
Classifications
U.S. Classification450/57
International ClassificationA41C3/10, A41C3/00
Cooperative ClassificationA41C3/10, A41C3/02, A41C3/0064, A41C3/0092, A41F15/002
European ClassificationA41C3/00Z, A41C3/00K4, A41C3/10, A41F15/00B, A41C3/02
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 12, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: CASEY, REETA G., FLORIDA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:COURTNEY, KATHRYN A.;REEL/FRAME:013501/0150
Effective date: 20021028