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arr3 The Designer

Never give up


The first breast surgery

After my first breast surgery, I woke up dazed and frightened. I didn’t know what I would do. I didn’t know how it would change my body. I’d always taken great care of my body, especially in terms of my appearance, having studied and practiced dance for many years.
At the time, I worked in graphic design. I had just done an art and advertising campaign for the celebration of the centenary of Automobile Club of Italy. In addition to the graphics, I also created the commemorative stamp and a series of glass sculptures. Looking around the ward, I was surprised to find large posters handing on the corridor walls that I had designed just a few years earlier for the "First International Conference of Thoracic Endoscopy" to be held in the new department of the Tor Vergata Hospital in Rome. It was a job that I had totally forgotten about, and now it was there in front of me, reminding me that if there was a past, there would be a future.


The postoperative bendages

Let’s go back to when I woke up. I was completely wrapped in bandages! Since I was quite busty, I felt like they had put armor on me from my neck to my waist. The bandages were so tight I couldn’t even breathe deeply.
My surgeon kindly explained that the operation had been successful, and that as a precaution they had made an incision from my left nipple to my armpit to analyze the lymph nodes. He explained that those uncomfortable bandages were needed to compress the breast and chest tissue. Just to be on the safe side they also removed a piece of tissue at the base of the right breast.
I was dismayed, worried and helpless.
Any sudden movement could have been dangerous and would have compromised my recovery, so I had to sit still. Totally still. Motionless.
I was used to running ten miles at dawn every morning!
I was a self-taught graphic artist, who worked passionately, always looking for new challenges and goals!
I had grown up without a mother, and I was now the mother of a nine-year-old without knowing how to be a mom. At the same time I was running my graphics and creative arts business. I had so many responsibilities, including advertising campaigns for national and international films.
I suddenly felt like I was trapped in an endless nightmare! I wanted to escape, but I couldn’t move or work, I felt like a limping racehorse! I was forced to develop a skill that at the time I knew nothing about: patience.
Every day for about a week, my doctor came to see me with his assistants to check the drainage, which meant taking off the roll of bandages around my chest, medicating the wounds and putting the bandages back on. I didn’t feel any pain because the walls of my chest were asleep. I was forced to stay in bed, but I wanted to see what had happened to my beautiful body.
You can’t imagine my curiosity to look at myself in the mirror.


Problems with the bandaging

One day my doctor finally removed all the bandages and took me to the mirror. I was shocked. My chest was purple and full of black lines where the skin had been glued. My breast looked deformed and the cut made it veer sideways. The other breast was squared at the base. I’m a perfectionist and I was shocked.
This was a nightmare for me. The surgeon, on the other hand, was happy because he had saved me.
I asked the team what I should use to remove the glue from my skin. “Petroleum Jelly” they answered. I felt like I was a piece of butchered meat and asked sharply “How is it possible that in the year 2000 women have to go through all of this?” The doctor apologized and told me that according to protocol this was the only way. He recommended that I wear a seamless bra with elastic cups for a couple of weeks. He also told me not to go running because my breasts had to stay still.
I still had to wait about three weeks for the results of the lymph nodes, and I wanted to fly. I left the hospital wearing the bra the doctor had recommended and a track suit. Together with the friend that I usually ran with, we took a long walk in the park to rejuvenate mind, body and spirit. Amongst the hedges and flowers I tried to let go of my fears, which followed me around like a raincloud…


Post-op discomfort

After a short time my breasts began to swell up, ache and harden.
In the end I had to go back and forth to the hospital with the drainage on, because so much liquid had formed that it had to be aspirated by means of injection with a syringe build for a horse. It was not painful, but it was disturbing, especially since I was going through so much at the time. Furthermore to get to the hospital I had to cross the entire city, find a parking space and wait in line to be medicated: on average a 6 hour trip. Luckily my ex-husband stood by me the whole time.
When I asked the doctor what the problem was, he said it was probably caused by the walk I had taken. I wasn’t supposed to move. I explained that it was the bra’s fault, because even though the cups were seamless, they were too flexible and didn’t give me enough support. To make matter worse, the circumference of the band was way too big for me because I had a very slim torso, so it was like not wearing a bra at all. I told the doctor that I wore a cup size D, but that the circumference of my torso was only a 32. I showed him my custom bras (made for women with cup sizes that are different from the torso circumference). I told him that all women have different cup and torso sizes and that maybe with my own bras I could walk, run and move, and lead a normal life, without moving my breasts, which was the cause of the problem. However, he told me that my bras were not suitable because they had an underwire and the cups weren’t elastic enough.
Because of this I was uncomfortable for the entire post-op period, which can last anywhere between 2 weeks and one month depending on the wounds, bruises and detachment of tissue, I couldn’t move otherwise I would have caused even more internal tearing, which meant more pain and suffering.
I asked the doctor how it was possible that there wasn’t an adequate bra for this delicate situation. He said “Madam, since you are so creative, why don’t you invent one yourself?”

The months afterwards and the idea behind the project

Many hard, tiring months passed. I was constantly going to check-ups and doing tests, which, fortunately, were very comforting for me. But I was always forced to stay in the hospital, and I was unable to work or travel.
One day, randomly, while I was waiting for a friend at the hairdresser’s, I took out a piece of paper and a pen and started drawing: I had a sudden impulse of creativity and less than 10 minutes I made the first sketches of the prototype of the bandage bustier bra.
I immediately showed my friend the sketches. She told me that as a woman she knew this was great idea. Then I showed them to the doctor, who reassured me and told me to move forward with it. Not knowing where to begin in the field of corsetry, I began doing research on materials and craftsmanship. I wanted to create something that was not only functional, but also very feminine. It was almost as if I was trying to exorcise the nightmare of all the suffering I had experienced, and overcome the difficulty with a healthy sense of sophistication and sensuality. We women must always maintain our identities, we have to feel beautiful at every occasion, both dressed and undressed, but most of all if we want to continue living like before we can’t stay in bed too long.


The first prototype and the results

With some sexy lace and strings I created my first post-op bra. I took it to my surgeon, Prof. Oreste Buonomo, and he fell in love with it. He told me that this product would help prevent bed sores that often came with using bandages in the summer heat.
Being able to wear it in the operating room also reduces the length of the operation, saving the hospital money since they operate on a large number of patients every day. The next step was creating the elastic cups, which in addition to providing support, could adjust to various forms. In the end I was successful. Prototype after prototype, thanks to close cooperation with the surgeon, who tested the bras on various patients, the bras improved until they were perfect. The results were encouraging.
It’s very rewarding for me to do something that helps women not suffer in the post-op period.

Cristalbra contains your breast from the time you’re medicated until the time you’re healed. Even with drainage, you can leave the hospital perfectly dressed. Cristalbra makes you feel confident to move, sexy and beautiful.

The recurrence, the mastectomy and the healing process

Unfortunately I had two relapses and had to have two more operations; in the second operation I had my mammary gland permanently removed, which is called a mastectomy. I had my breast rebuilt with an implant. I must say that for both these operations I wore my bra and I was able to experience the comfort that I didn’t have in my first operation. I was also able to improve the product through my own experimentation making additions, such as using more suitable materials.

Plastic surgery and the success of Cristalbra

After a few years I had yet another operation to fix the appearance of my breasts because one of the prostheses had shifted. I told my new surgeon, Dr. Pagliuca, about my product and suggested he let me use it for my surgery. He found it to be very valid option and now represents and recommends my bra.
The last operation was the most painful of all because in order to make my breasts the same size, he had to move various tissues, which caused pain and swelling. However, with my bra I was able to overcome it. Once again I was able to experience just how valid and essential my bustier bandage bra is. In its simplicity it has something revolutionary compared to other bras on the market. For this reason my bra was given an international patent.