SHORELINE — Feeling comfortable, pretty and feminine was important for Roberta Lombardi after she completed her breast cancer treatment.
When given the green light from her medical team that she could wear any type of undergarment she chose, she found the choices just too plain.
“After all my treatments were done and I didn’t have to wear the special bras anymore, they said, ‘Go out and just get a bra that will give you good support,’” remembers Lombardi, founder and chief executive officer of Infinite Beauty.
When the Madison resident couldn’t find a bra that fit all her criteria, she went about designing one. The result is a lacy bra, lined with Neoprene, the material used in wet suits, among other things. Lombardi wanted to be intimately involved with production and chose a New York City company to work with on the production.
“The bra that she’s put together is absolutely lovely,” says Kim Mangs, owner of Lulu’s in Guilford. “I don’t mean for just cancer survivors or women who have undergone mastectomies. As a matter of fact, I’ve already sold it to women that came in from seeing it in the window and bought it.”
Lulu’s, the first boutique to carry the bra, has them in nude, with black lace overlay, and a nude on nude color.
In September 2016, Lombardi was diagnosed with breast cancer. What followed was 14 months of treatment. She underwent a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and chemotherapy related therapies and reconstruction surgery.
“What a lot of people don’t tell you is that when you do reconstruction it isn’t like if I just went and had breast augmentation,” says Lombardi, “but in my head I’m thinking, oh, I’m going to look normal, I’m going to feel normal.”
While Lombardi knew that the bra needed a slight compression feature, the most important element was a warming feature to keep her breasts from always feeling ice cold
This was something no one ever discussed with this breast cancer survivor, after she completed her treatments.
“My breasts are always ice cold to the touch because I don’t have any tissue to modulate my body temperature,” Lombardi says.
“You add cold weather to it, and it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, if you’re out in the chill or you’re chilly inside, you spasm,” she explains. “It’s very uncomfortable.”
Plastic Surgeon Deborah Pan, founder of Guilford’s Esana Plastic Surgery Center & MedSpa, explains this from a medical viewpoint.
“It’s a little off-putting,” she says. “The implants themselves don’t have any blood flow to warm them to true body temperature and you really only have maybe a thin layer of muscle covering them so it’s not the same as having something that’s consistently maintained at body temperature.”
Lombardi says the sensation is so uncomfortable that it makes her feel as through her implant is loose.
Pan says that Lombardi’s creation is innovative.
“Basically, everybody tries to retro fit either a medical recovery bra, which is like an unsexy, sports bra, or it has clunky Velcro, which, nobody really wants to wear Velcro,” she says. “There are just no good options out there.”
The Infinite Beauty team includes Lombardi and her nephews, Eric Conti, 32 and Austin Miller, 37. As an engineer in New York City, Conti is the chief product engineer and Miller, with a background in marketing in Stamford, is the chief revenue officer.
The bra is named after Lombardi’s grandmother and Conti and Miller’s great-grandmother, Felicia. While they are specifically designed for mastectomy to implant patients, with a special feature which alleviates chills and spasms, they are pretty and functional for many.
“This is for when you want to move on with your life and you want a pretty lingerie, but you want it to help certain side effects that you’re just going to be stuck with,” says Lombardi. “It alleviates those side effects.”
Pan adds that this will be a welcome relief for many women who have undergone breast cancer treatment.
“I think there’s many women out there that just accept the post-surgical status as the ‘new normal’ when in fact now they have an option to make it more tolerable,” she says. “I think there will be quite a few ‘ahas,’ like ‘Oh, wait, I don’t have to suffer like this. I don’t have to sit here and try and just be OK with conventional bras and live with this, either spasm or coldness that I feel.’”
While Lombardi is already thinking of other applications for this comfortable, pretty and feminine design, including nightgowns, tank tops with built-in bras and sports bras, her focus right now is on the everyday bra.
“We added all over lace to make it pretty and feminine,” says Lombardi. “I really didn’t want to feel like, oh, you’re a breast cancer patient for the rest of your life.”
For more information visit infinitebeauty.boutique; Email firstname.lastname@example.org; Facebook Infinite Beauty.Boutique. The bras retail for $92.