Over recent years, the number of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and chosen to have breast reconstruction following their mastectomy has increased. In 2013, researchers conducted a study that found reconstruction rates during cancer surgery rose from 46% in 1998 to 63% in 2007.
However, some women have concerns about receiving additional surgeries due to health issues, worries about the healing process, or decide that breast reconstruction isn’t right for them. If this sounds like you, then you have other options available.
Many breast cancer patients find a solution in artificial breast forms. Many of these prostheses can be custom designed and built specifically to fit your body’s contours and chest wall.
They are offered in unique shapes or colors to match your skin tone, and you can also choose the size and color of your areola and nipple. The materials used to make breast forms include fiberfill, foam, or silicone gel. These specially manufactured prostheses mimic the weight and feel of a natural breast.
There are a variety of types of breast prosthesis available to women following their surgery. Some forms can be worn directly against the chest wall with adhesives, while others discreetly slip into a pocketed mastectomy bra.
Why You Should Choose a Prosthesis Over Breast Reconstruction
Deciding to have breast reconstruction performed following a mastectomy is personal and can be very difficult for any woman to face. There is no one size fits all answer, and there are many reasons to decide against it.
Often, breast cancer patients go over the options with their oncologists and surgeons before surgery to determine if they’re a candidate for reconstruction. Some women are told they’re not ideal candidates for reconstruction or implants if they have a chronic medical condition or autoimmune disorder.
Others opt for a single mastectomy over a double mastectomy if they do not carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene, and there is a lower risk of metastasis or relapse. Many women don’t care for the additional risks imposed by having other procedures conducted that they deem to be needless.
Because breast cancer can be hereditary, some women have already learned from their mother’s diagnosis that prosthetics are available and just feel the most comfortable opting for a prosthetic instead of a reconstruction. They already understand how easy it is for breast cancer survivors to live full and active lives without further surgeries. Women with breast prostheses can participate in healthy activities like swimming or jogging, just as they could before.
Whatever your reason is to avoid reconstruction, you can keep your figure or bust size in proportion with breast prostheses’ help. These can be purchased off the shelf or custom made after being fitted by a certified mastectomy fitter.
What to Expect During a Breast Prosthesis Fitting
Most women who are fitted for a breast prosthesis liken it to being fitted for a bra. When you enter A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe, you will be welcomed by one of our caring and knowledgeable, certified mastectomy fitters.
At your first appointment, your fitter will take your measurements and make recommendations based on your personal preferences and taste. She can help you select your bra and then show you samples of breast prosthetics and forms in the store. You choose a size, shape, weight, and color based on your needs.
Weight of the breast is not always something that women take into consideration, but it can have a lasting effect on your center of gravity and balance. If a form is too heavy, it may cause you to hunch over, causing shoulder, neck, and back pain. If it’s too light, it tends to move around or ride up, causing it to be uneven with your other breast.
Discuss different breast form weights and materials with your fitter who can make recommendations and help you try on a variety of breast prostheses to find one that feels comfortable. The type of bra you wear can also affect how well a prosthesis stays in place and the kind of support it offers, so ask for tips if you’re not sure.
If you choose a prosthetic that’s used with adhesive, the fitter can show you how to attach it to your chest. They can also show you how each backing works to keep you fresh and free of sweat.
If you decide on a custom-fitted prosthesis, you’ll be scheduled for a second appointment for a 3D scan with your fitter. A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe can bill your insurance company directly, so all you have to worry about is your copay.
How Wearing a Prosthesis Changes the Way You Feel About Your Body
Many women find renewed confidence in themselves following a mastectomy because they feel it’s a way of getting their lives back following their diagnosis. While a change like this can be very hard, it can also be relieving.
There are times when some women completely forget they’re wearing a prosthetic because the symmetry of their breasts is so balanced. The lightweight construction of many breast forms avoids weight and irritation to your chest wall for a more comfortable wearing experience.
Surgeons understand how incisions control the appearance of scars after the healing process. They can use this knowledge to their advantage to create the illusion of cleavage. However, often women need to acclimate to wearing clothing that doesn’t offer the lower neckline they’re used to.
While it can be disheartening to give up dresses or blouses with a plunging neckline, there are still plenty of ways to gain symmetry using specially designed mastectomy wear. There are numerous options for mastectomy bras, workout wear, lingerie, swimwear, and loungewear that support your body during recovery.
Your fitter is happy to guide you through trying on different clothing types to make you feel more comfortable when you’re working out, swimming, meeting friends for lunch, or just lounging around at home.
Tips for Deciding If a Breast Prosthesis is Right for You
Professional assistance with prostheses is always available either from your doctor or a certified mastectomy fitter from A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe. Ask questions to get all the information you need before making a choice that you’re comfortable with.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the options that are on the market. Your professional fitter guides you through making the decisions that are right for you. Look at your options, try on a variety of styles, and take your time if you need it.
When you’re choosing your professional fitter, it’s essential to know their credentials. They should have specialized training in how not just to fit bras but also prostheses. The fitters at A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe have all been trained and accredited by the American Board for Certification Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthis, Inc.
Do some research on the different breast forms available, so you’ll feel comfortable and knowledgeable on your first appointment. This enables you to discuss your options in-depth with your fitter.
Speak to friends, family, or other survivors who wear prosthetics to ask specific questions. There are many online forums, message boards, and groups you can join if you don’t know anyone personally who has survived breast cancer or wears a breast form.
Talk to your doctors to get answers to your questions about reconstructive surgery and prosthetics. These professionals have a lot of experience and information, and their opinions shouldn’t be overlooked. Consult with your surgeon to determine what options are right for you, your case, and your body.
Choose A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe
The caring staff at A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe understands this can be an emotional time for you. They are well equipped to help you choose a prosthetic and mastectomy bra that’s right for your needs.
In addition to their numerous breast care products, you will find other beautiful items that can help you move forward on your road to recovery. There is an assortment of swimwear, hats with wigs, turbans, headscarves, and many more items to help you feel your best and most natural self.
The staff at A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe want you to feel comfortable coming to them with questions about your life after cancer and the products that can help you on your road to recovery. We offer mastectomy lingerie as well as excellent compression bras to wear immediately following your surgery. We also carry leisurewear, activewear, and sports bras.
If you’re ready to purchase your prosthesis and mastectomy bra, call to make your appointment at A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe.
At first, this process may feel strange or different. In time, however, you will find these women to be close friends because of their level of empathy and understanding of breast cancer and the trauma that it can bring.
Undergoing reconstructive breast surgery following a mastectomy is a personal choice and not available for every woman who has breast cancer.
Using a prosthetic or breast form to aid the emotional healing process is beneficial because it allows you to continue your active life just as you did before your surgery. You can choose from different materials, colors, shapes, and sizes and wear them however you’d prefer.
When you’re ready to start this journey, call the certified mastectomy fitters at A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe at (954) 978-8287 to schedule your confidential appointment.