Beautiful After Breast Cancer Foundation


Modern medicine is increasingly transitioning towards preventive care. This shift towards prevention has also been observed in breast cancer care in recent years, particularly with the discovery of the BRCA gene. Subsequently, multiple genes and risk factors have been identified. Depending on these factors, a personalized screening strategy can be chosen. Therefore, it is crucial to understand these genetic and risk factors.


I was diagnosed with cancer ... This website serves as a portal designed to assist you and your loved ones in accessing personal information and finding solutions to your concerns.

The primary goal of this website is to offer guidance and support to patients as they navigate their journey toward recovery and improved quality of life. The "Diagnosis" section of our website is divided into two main categories. Firstly, under "Anatomy and Physiology," we provide fundamental knowledge about the breast. Secondly, in the "Tumors and Disorders" section, we delve deeper into various breast-related conditions.

Moreover, we aim to provide information to women who may be concerned about potential breast issues but are hesitant to seek immediate medical advice. Knowledge and information can often offer immediate reassurance if a woman is able to identify the issue herself and determine that no specific treatment is necessary. Conversely, we also strive to educate women who have received a diagnosis of a serious breast condition, such as breast cancer, and wish to approach their doctor well-informed and prepared.


The treatment for breast cancer should immediately include a discussion about reconstruction. Our foundation has no greater goal than to raise awareness of this among patients and oncological surgeons. By making an informed decision beforehand, we avoid closing off options for later reconstruction while still considering the oncological aspect. Of course, survival is paramount, and the decision of the oncologic surgeon will always take precedence.

The "Reconstruction or not?" page contains all the information you can expect during an initial consultation before undergoing tumor removal. This page is comprehensive, and your plastic surgeon will only provide information relevant to your situation.

"Removing the tumor" details the surgical procedure itself. This is the most crucial operation because effective tumor removal remains paramount. We guide you through the various methods of removal, a decision often made by a multidisciplinary team comprising oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, radiotherapists, breast nurses, gynecologists, oncological surgeons, and plastic surgeons.

The "Breast Reconstruction" section includes information and illustrations of the different reconstruction options along with corresponding steps.


Those treated for cancer often need a long period to recover.

Cancer is a radical illness with a heavy treatment. Often, people have to deal with psychosocial and/or physical problems afterwards, such as stress, anxiety, extreme fatigue, painful joints, reduced fitness, lymphedema... This can have a major impact on general well-being.

There are rehabilitation programmes offered by most hospitals. We cover some of the major topics here.

Quality of life

Quality of life is a key factor in coping with breast cancer. Therefore, it is important to find coping mechanisms that work, which will be different from patient to patient. For some, it may be finding enjoyment in activities they engaged in prior to diagnosis, taking time for appreciating life and expressing gratitude, volunteering, physical exercise... Of prime importance, studies have shown that accepting the disease as a part of one’s life is a key to effective coping, as well as focusing on mental strength to allow the patient to move on with life. In this section we are addressing some topics that patients experience during and after treatment and we are providing information to address them.

Clothing and lingerie

Breast cancer patients may be confronted with breast asymmetry or other conditions that make it difficult to dress normally and this often has a significant impact on a woman's well-being and freedom. We would like to give you some more information and useful tips in this respect.

Pressure garments for Lymphedema

About 1 in 5 people (20%) will have lymphedema of the arm after breast cancer treatment (surgery to remove lymph nodes or radiotherapy to the lymph nodes in the armpit). The effects of treatment, block the normal fluid drainage channels of the lymphatic system, allowing fluid called lymph to collect in an area, resulting in localized swelling.

Treatment for lymphedema aims to reduce swelling and prevent the fluid building up again. With early diagnosis and intervention the condition can be well controlled through skincare to prevent infection, specialized massage and compression. The most common treatments for lymphedema are a combination of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), lymphatic exercise, daytime and night-time compression garments/bandaging (multi-layer lymphedema bandaging) and the use of intermittent sequential gradient pumps. Complex decongestive physiotherapy (CDT) is a guided treatment programme combining lymphatic massage, skin care, and compressive garments.

All these are very specialist treatments. Ask your breast care nurse, surgeon or GP to refer you to a lymphedema specialist. They will measure your arm and assess you properly. Wearing a badly fitting elastic sleeve can make the swelling worse. The British Lymphology Society have a register of lymphedema practitioners or visit for further information.

See the list of external links below to gain access to some alternative forms of pressure garments and review the latest evidence on the various types of compression therapies available to you. 

External Links



Breast asymmetry can either be congenital or acquired, presenting a daily challenge that hinders the freedom of dressing and affects a woman's well-being and sense of freedom.

Breast cancer patients may encounter breast asymmetry at various stages of their journey:

  • After a partial breast resection or a lumpectomy,

  • After a mastectomy without reconstruction,

  • After a mastectomy with the insertion of a tissue expander, during the tissue expansion phase,

  • After a mastectomy and reconstruction with autologous tissue, until the second operation where symmetry is achieved,

  • After unilateral reconstruction with an implant and significant body weight changes,

  • After a complicated or unsatisfactory reconstruction.

To address this issue, several solutions are available on the market. Pocketed bras (refer to lingerie, clothing, and swimwear) can be filled with specific bra fillers tailored to different needs. Additionally, special tapes can be used to secure bra fillers to the skin.

Bra fillers encompass breast enhancers and breast forms with the nipple-areola complex, featuring various shapes (pear, round, tear-drop with different projections, triangular with different sizes). While most are made of silicone, others are crafted from foams. Some companies manufacture specific products for athletic purposes, such as swimming, or lighter forms recommended immediately after surgery when a silicone form might be too heavy or uncomfortable. Adhesive nipples are also available for purchase.

Trying these products in a store with the assistance of a dedicated shop assistant can simplify the selection of the right filler. However, once the customer knows what she needs, there are internet-based companies that offer more affordable breast forms, exclusively selling online, dealing directly with factories, cutting out intermediaries, and avoiding expenses on elaborate packaging.

External links



Karine & the Story behind Neliane

Comfortable clothing is of great importance for people with lymphedema. The clothing brand Neliane not only stands for a fashionable clothing line that makes all women shine, but also fully meets the needs of lymphedema patients. The driving force behind this Belgian fashion label is Karine Tollenaere, part of the management of Beautiful After Breast Cancer. Drawing from her own experience as a lymphedema patient, she responded to the call of fellow sufferers to design comfortable and elegant clothing. Karine gathered a team of fashion experts around her, and in 2018, Neliane launched its first collection on the market, specifically targeting outfits that perfectly mask the abdomen, buttocks, and arms.

What makes the Neliane collection unique?

For women with a chronic problem of lymphedema, regular clothing often turns out to be too large or too tight. In stores, it's often a challenge to find fashionable and elegant pieces that are also comfortable. The development of the Neliane collection was preceded by versatile research. Lymphedema patients throughout Belgium and the Netherlands were first surveyed extensively. Their feedback formed a valuable starting point in the development of the models. Subsequently, live brainstorming sessions were held with fellow sufferers and stylists to give the pieces their ideal fit and look. The medical world was also closely involved. In-depth interviews with experts and professors provided important insights for the patterns. Patterns that, by the way, do not exist anywhere else in the world. The stylists worked on them and improved them until everything was perfect for the test audience. After two years of research and optimization, the first results were offered for sale.

What makes the clothing so special?

For example, the blouses received a customized sleeve insert and wider sleeves, so that the armpit and arm are definitely not constricted. Raglan and butterfly sleeves form a grateful basis here. A lightly centered torso ensures a flattering figure without sacrificing comfort. No annoying seams that cinch or cut. Especially for women with and after breast cancer, thought was also given to the neckline and décolleté. The many details and fine finishes divert attention from problem areas and shift the focus to the other assets of the female body. Furthermore, the models have been consciously kept timeless. They are easy to combine with other colors and garments and can be worn casually or elegantly for every age or style. The fabrics are as ecological as possible and of high quality. They retain their shape and colors even after x-number of washes. The fabrics were also tested for friction and static electricity in combination with the therapeutic elastic support bands that many patients wear daily. Moreover, the clothing is 100% fair trade made.

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