Articles & Literature

This page contains a vast collection of "going flat" articles and literature.

Tip: Grab a tissue, we get emotional reading these!

Why I Went Flat After Breast Cancer

Melanie Testa, a 47-year-old artist, textile designer and craft-book author from Carroll Gardens, tells BETHANY KANDEL why she decided to go breastless after a double mastectomy — and how she became an accidental activist.

Why I Opted Not To Reconstruct My Breasts After A Mastectomy

I'd always felt disconnected from my body, including my breasts. But my breast cancer diagnosis in January 2011 changed that.

Reflections on Going Flat

At least initially, breast cancer seemed to be happening to me. I was 33. I ate organic food, exercised regularly, and meditated. I had breastfed my son. It was a surprise that these things had not been enough to ward off all disease, even with a strong family history.  

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Woman’s Mermaid Halloween Costume Puts Mastectomy Scar on Display

Halloween is here, which means when you walk outside, you might see people dressed up as zombies, witches, and one-breasted mermaids. Wait, what? Yep, you read that right. That’s the badass costume breast cancer survivor Melissa Jansen is rocking this year, and it intentionally puts her mastectomy scar on full display.

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Living Flat is Freedom

 I have never regretted not having done reconstruction or just having one breast removed. 

I love not having to wear a bra!  No under boob sweat when you exercise, and I pretty much wear tank tops year-round. I have various prosthesis forms that I could wear if I wanted to but honestly never do.  When I try to wear them now, it feels very foreign to me having breasts. 

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'Going Flat' After Breast Cancer

Rebecca Pine, a cancer survivor from Long Island who co-founded a photography and writing project called “The Breast and the Sea,” said, “It’s a tremendous amount to put your body through, and it’s not like we’re going to get our breasts back.”


(Girl) Power in Numbers

Breast-cancer survivors take the streets of Washington D.C. to protest in the name of women worldwide.

Let's Get Physical- Sex After Mastectomy

Let’s face it, the fear of having a mastectomy is more than just worrying about cancer. With almost any other type of cancer diagnosis people don’t automatically worry about how it will affect their sex life. 

Do I Have to Reconstruct My Breasts

Some women are choosing to skip reconstruction and get very elaborate tattoos and body art. They’re looking at the scars as empowerment.

The Importance of Photography for Someone Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Only a few weeks beforehand I had been diagnosed with breast cancer. One of my breasts, half of my best physical feature, was trying to kill me. In an attempt to process in my mind what my body was about to endure I decide to document my “before” body. Even with my breasts bruised from the biopsies only days before, I was determined.

Curvy Couture Raises Breast Cancer Awareness

“I lost my breast to cancer,” says Melissa in the post, which features a photo of her exposing her mastectomy scar. “It doesn’t compare to what I gained—confidence, strength, power and an overwhelming sense of gratitude. My body is beautiful. Cancer didn’t steal my sexy!”

Yahoo! - Kim Bowles Topless Protest

Kim Bowles, a Pittsburgh scientist and mother of two, had undergone a double mastectomy following stage-3 cancer treatment in 2017, and had chosen to “go flat” — opting out of the complex breast reconstruction surgery that follows the majority of mastectomies. 

Why I Went Flat

Breasts are beautiful, but for me, the price was too high. I loved my breasts, but I didn’t love them enough to sacrifice a back muscle on the altar of normative femininity. Eight years later, I mourn my breasts and savor my strength.

Why More Breast Cancer Survivors Are Going Flat

In 2014, when Sarah Brown of Vancouver, Washington, learned she'd tested positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation, she had no qualms about getting a double mastectomy. The idea of reconstruction, however, gave the 37-year-old small-business owner pause. Brown was fond of her 38Cs, primarily because they were hers, not surgically re-created, mostly numb breasts. 

Choosing Clothes After Double Mastectomy

Fashion was the last thing on my mind when, at age 38, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and chose to have a double mastectomy. My priority was minimizing the surgical strain on my body; ultimately, I opted not to pursue reconstruction. The struggle with how to dress this new torso of mine came later. 

Gorgeous Woman of the Month

I was initially diagnosed with IDC in 2014.  In 2016, I had an aggressive recurrence and underwent chemotherapy and a bilateral mastectomy with no reconstruction. Remaining flat was not an option offered by my surgeon but something I had to fight hard for.  

My Time with The Dangerous Ones

Di's article in Wildfire Magazine "My Time with the Dangerous Ones" (available by trial online subscription) about her time meeting flat friends in NYC for the Ana Ono Fashion Show at NY Fashion Week 2018

Choosing to Stay Flat

You do not have to have breast reconstruction or use a breast prosthesis after a mastectomy. This is sometimes called “staying flat.” The decision is a personal one. Some women say that they choose to stay flat because they don’t need a prosthesis or reconstruction to make them feel like a woman.

Beauty out of Damage

Beauty Out of Damage was shot with a Canon F1 on 35 mm color negative film and printed by the artist in 1993.

Rebecca's Choice

“I am still feminine, with my new body.”

“For me, the real power comes from saying ‘I am enough JUST like this’and believing it, living it, sharing it. I dress in ways to highlight how flat I am, to show my scars, to show the whole thing sometimes. And every time I do, I feel it is a statement, not just for me, but for every woman I pass.  We are okay JUST how we are.” – Rebecca

Breast Cancer Survivors Rock 'Flat Tops'

An underwear brand called Play Out, which makes and sells gender neutral underwear, has released a body-positive photo series featuring three breast cancer survivors. Each of the women in the series have undergone double mastectomies, and they all chose not to have reconstructive surgery.

What Breast Cancer Really Looks Like

Behind every pink ribbon is a real woman with a real, unique story. 

For Queer Cancer Survivors, It's Not All About Pink Ribbons

Before you pull out your “I Heart Boobies” bracelet and pink ribbons in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, look at the facts: about 58 percent of women who have mastectomies don’t choose breast reconstruction.

The Women Who Showed Their BC Scars

Well reporter Roni Caryn Rabin reflects on why the women whom she and photographer Béatrice de Géa featured in a recent story about “going flat” after mastectomies were surprisingly eager to reveal themselves to the world.

Flat: A Memoir

FLAT: Reclaiming my body from breast cancer (Skyhorse Publishing, September 2018) is Guthrie’s story of how two bouts of breast cancer shook her faith in her body, her relationship, and medicine. Along the way, she challenges the view that breasts are paramount to a woman’s happiness while tracing an intimate portrayal of how cancer reshaped her relationship with her partner, Mary, revealing the book’s core as a love story.

Wildfire Magazine

WILDFIRE is my response to this need for real discussion on real topics. Each issue contains written and visual work from young women survivors just like you and me. Each issue is on a theme.

How I Learned to Love My Body After a Double Mastectomy

Fashion was the last thing on my mind when, at age 38, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and chose to have a double mastectomy. My priority was minimizing the surgical strain on my body; ultimately, I opted not to pursue reconstruction. The struggle with how to dress this new torso of mine came later.....


Mama's Got This: Emily H

I’m a mama to a brilliant, beautiful little girl, a photographer & artist, and breast cancer & flat advocate. I’m the creator of EMPOWERHAUS; an alternative awareness and empowerment brand, and Flatties Unite; a body positive Facebook group for women living with less than 2 breasts.

Unapologetic Awareness

“I want someone to look at my designs and ask, ‘What does that mean?’,” said Emily. “I want my designs to open up a discussion about breast cancer.”

To Have or Have Not

Debbie Bowers and Marianne DeQuette Couzzo take off their t-shirts as they talk about what it means to live without breasts. Both women survived breast cancer. And both decided not to undergo breast reconstruction

Building Community for Choosing No Reconstruction and for LGBTQ People With Cancer: Vonn Jensen

After finishing treatment for stage II breast cancer, Vonn Jensen, who lives part-time in Portland, Oregon, and part-time in Seattle, Washington, planned on writing academic papers about gender and the cancer experience.

16 Women Affected by Breast Cancer Walked Topless in This NYFW Show

This weekend, a fashion show took place at New York Fashion Week unlike any other. Yes, it featured beautiful women. And yes, they modeled lingerie—not something wholly unusual to Fashion Week. But the 16 women who walked in the AnaOno x #Cancerland show were all real women who are currently battling or who have battled breast cancer—a first for Fashion Week.

Women Bare Mastectomy Scars

The portraits, photographed as part of the Stand Up To Cancer campaign, showcase a range of women, many of whom overcame low self-esteem and negative body image to stand before the lens. 

The Inquirer

When Laura Tuzio Ross told her plastic surgeon that she preferred not to reconstruct her breast after cancer surgery, he warned her she would regret it.

A matter of choice: Mastectomies without reconstruction

For women who've had mastectomies, what to do next is, increasingly, a matter of choice. And what some women are choosing to do may surprise you.

Mother-of-three embraces her mastectomy scars

Gemma Cockrell, 49, wanted to show the 'real' side of surviving breast cancer to other women, after only being presented with leaflets with 'black and white drawings'.


Emily Hopper, 32, is a breast cancer advocate, artist, and mother. In 2017, Hopper was diagnosed with breast cancer. Shortly thereafter she underwent chemotherapy, a double mastectomy without reconstruction, and radiation. In 2018 she started EMPOWERHAUS, an online business to embolden and inspire breast cancer patients. 


You're Still You After Cancer

Chiara D'Agostino was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time at age 43. After undergoing chemotherapy, two single mastectomies and reconstruction she eventually found out her breast cancer had progressed to stage four. Chiara has become part of something called the “flat movement” which is dedicated to helping breast cancer survivors embrace their bodies.

By Mirelys Jimenez of Next Chapter Photography, this links to the first of a three part series (parts 2 & 3 links below!) celebrating the beauty and strength of seven of the most courageous women she knows. Embracing scars and learning to love our new bodies is not an easy feat. Breasts don’t define us. We are beautiful, strong, and undeniably women. 



Going Flat: Choosing No Reconstruction

While most women choose to have some type of reconstruction, some women don’t want to have additional surgery. Some also don’t want to deal with special bras, magnets, or adhesive patches that hold a prosthesis in place. They choose no reconstruction and don’t wear a breast form most of the time. Many women and doctors call this “going flat” or “living flat.”


Saying No to Breast Reconstruction

One of the biggest decisions women have to make after a mastectomy is whether to have reconstructive surgery or remain flat. Studies show that an increasing number of women are saying no to reconstruction surgery.


Sexy Mastectomy Patches for Women Who 'Go Flat'

When Noelia Morales was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 42, she had her right breast removed as a part of treatment. After her unilateral mastectomy, she decided against getting a breast reconstruction. Instead of wearing a prosthesis to mimic a natural breast, Morales, created a patch to wear over her mastectomy scar. 

Kim Bowles is mad. “Set-the-world-on-fire levels of mad,” she says, in a stunning new interview with Cosmopolitan’s Catherine Guthrie, about feeling deeply betrayed by her surgeon....

Flat Out: Rejecting Breast Reconstruction

In the recently published memoir “Flat: Reclaiming My Body From Breast Cancer,” Catherine Guthrie tells the story of grievous medical mistakes that she managed to record without sugarcoating their consequences or flailing against the injustice of it all. A women’s health reporter, Ms. Guthrie approached the cancer experience guided and guarded by her previous investigations. She nevertheless found herself stunned by the retrograde assumptions and defective practices of the physicians she consulted.....


How Sexism in Medicine is Hurting Breast Cancer Survivors

These cancer patients wanted to get rid of their breasts for good. Their doctors had other ideas. Breast cancer survivors increasingly want to opt out of reconstruction after their mastectomies, but they report a horrifying culture in which their desire to go flat is challenged or outright ignored.

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The mysterious black and white, nude photo series juxtaposes a man and a woman who has undergone a mastectomy without reconstruction. 


Going Flat After Mastectomy

In our practice, we are seeing an increasing number of patients who have undergone prior mastectomy and have chosen to forgo any procedures for breast reconstruction. Unfortunately, these patients are oftentimes left with excess skin and soft-tissue at the inframammary fold area the lateral trunk area and sometimes overhanging their mastectomy incision. Many of these patients have been quite clear and explicit in their desire not to undergo any reconstructive surgery.

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Managing Patient Expectations Key for Mastectomy Without Reconstruction

Surgeons discuss techniques that can help with women who decide against breast reconstruction.

Flat Closure NOW is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring understanding that “going flat” is a valid, beautiful, healthy surgical option after mastectomy.



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