In February 2012, PSP magazine featured John Pedersen, MD, a plastic surgeon in Akron, Ohio, and founder of Breast Oasis, on the cover. At the time, the group—whose mission is to donate gently used bras and hope to women who have neither—was just beginning to gain traction among plastic surgeons and buzz in nonprofit circles. The group had donated 100,000 bras from women who had breast augmentation or reduction to women in need across the country, including those in domestic violence and rape crisis shelters when the story first went to press.
Pedersen had big plans for expanding the group’s reach and breadth, and now, more than 2 years later, the organization is, in fact, growing by leaps and bounds. There are now 20 affiliate groups of surgeons in 13 states, the number of donated bras has doubled, and breast cancer education is a new part of its focus.
Breast Oasis collects gently used or new bras through drop boxes or online. They are dry cleaned, sorted by size, and given to women who need them. Bra recipients also receive words of hope from the previous owner that can be accessed online through a BIN or bra identification number.
Today, these women are also taught how to perform breast self-exams and receive other information about breast cancer and breast health when they collect their bras. “They now get access to health care education and understanding, too,” Pedersen says.
Breast Oasis has also partnered with Le Mystère Lingerie. Now, women shopping at select Bloomingdale’s locations during the month of October who donate their gently used bras to Breast Oasis will receive 15% off a regular price Le Mystère purchase.
Then and Now
The idea for Breast Oasis came to Pedersen naturally after performing thousands of reconstructive and cosmetic breast surgeries. He wondered what women did with their old bras now that they had new breasts. His wife, gynecologist Sejal Pedersen, MD, mentioned that women in homeless shelters and rape crisis centers often need bras. “The response has been overwhelming so far,” he says.
Gleaning a crystal ball, Pedersen sees even bigger things on the horizon for Breast Oasis. “We hope to become one of the single best methods for early breast cancer detection and education,” he says. “We also hope to have our own National Bra Donation Day and become the largest group of women helping women on a global scale.”
Denise Mann is the editor of Plastic Surgery Practice. She can be reached at PSPeditor@allied360.com.