A breast prosthesis is a suitable alternative to reconstruction after breast cancer surgery. While some women may choose to wear one temporarily until they receive a breast reconstruction, others find wearing a prosthesis to be a comfortable, long-term solution.
If you are planning to wear a breast prosthesis, it is important to establish a proper care routine to ensure optimal comfort, a natural appearance, and longevity.
What are breast prostheses?
Breast prostheses are recreations of natural breast tissue that help restore a woman’s pre-mastectomy appearance, bodily symmetry, and self-confidence. Prostheses can also help clothing fit better post-mastectomy.
Prostheses, also known as breast forms, can be worn in pairs, as a single breast replacement following a unilateral mastectomy, or as a partial tissue replacement following a lumpectomy. These durable forms are created to provide an extremely lifelike appearance and texture.
Most types of breast forms are made from soft silicone gels encased in a thin film. Silicone breast forms are typically the most popular style as they are weighted to look and feel like natural breast tissue.
However, there are plenty of silicone-free prostheses made of soft foam materials which are a great lightweight option to wear during exercise or in the weeks after surgery. The Jodee Featherweight Leisure Form is made from molded polyurethane and covered in smooth nylon/spandex with a cotton backing for optimal comfort and breathability.
Avoid sharp objects
Keep sharp objects, including pet claws, safety pins, brooches, and jewelry away from your breast form. They could puncture silicon’s outer surface, causing it to leak.
This obviously diminishes the form’s longevity and changes its shape or overall appearance. It may also cause irritation if your skin is exposed to the silicone gel from the artificial breast.
Keep your prosthesis clean
Hand wash your prosthesis regularly with a mild, skin-friendly soap. Rinse it with cool water and blot it dry. Avoid rubbing the surface as repeated tugging could end up ripping or tearing the form’s outer surface.
Make sure to give your prosthesis an extra wash following any strenuous activity or were in a body of water to remove sweat, chlorine, salt, and sediments. This applies even if you own a special chlorine-resistant swimming form.
If you have a stick-on prosthesis, you may need to use specially formulated cleaning products such as ABC Breast Form Wash which is unscented and rinses completely clean to minimize residue build-up and to avoid removing the adhesive backing.
Also, keep the area clean of lotions, and perfumes as their ingredients could degrade the outer layer of your breast form.
Pick the correct bra
Mastectomy bras are a great way to hold your breast prosthesis securely against your body without worrying about shifting or slipping throughout the day.
Finding the correct mastectomy bra to fit your breast form is essential. If your bra is too small, it may pinch the silicone, causing it to tear or rip. A bra that is too large may not provide enough support and could cause your prosthesis to lose its natural shape over time.
Store your prosthesis when not in use
Your breast prosthesis should always be in the box it came in when not currently in use. This prevents accidental damage and helps the form hold its original shape.
You can also buy storage boxes designed to hold your breast forms in a cradle-like structure to preserve the shape, and cases that protect your breast forms from damage while traveling. The ABC Travel and Storage Case comes in five different sizes for a custom fitting storage solution that offers a discreet way to carry your breast forms with you on your journey.
Get fitted professionally
A proper fitting is key when deciding on which breast form to purchase. Although an incorrect fit may not negatively affect its longevity, it can make the breast form uncomfortable to wear regularly and may not offer the symmetry and balance you need.
A certified mastectomy fitter can help you find the perfect prosthesis with a shape, size, weight, and color to match your body and lifestyle. When fitted correctly, breast forms fit snuggly to your chest wall but do not cause any kind of irritation.
Poorly fitting prosthesis look less natural, feel uncomfortable against the skin, and can even obstruct the flow of lymph fluid in your body, contributing to lymphedema.
As long as you take care of your silicone breast form as your own skin – washing it and protecting it from surface-level damage – it should last you for years. Keep in mind that some types of prostheses may require additional care steps, your fitter can give you care and maintenance instructions before you finalize your purchase.
If you would like to learn more about general care tips or schedule a fitting, contact us at A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe on (954) 978-8287. We can help you determine what type of breast form is best for your needs, partial or full, foam, or silicone, and assist you with submitting your paperwork to your insurance company.