Shortly after breast cancer surgery, a woman will be ready to make some decisions about how she wants to regain confidence in her body shape and style. Breast reconstruction is an option for some women, while others prefer not to undergo another major surgery such as this.
For those women who opt out of breast reconstruction, a less invasive possibility is a breast prosthesis or prostheses. If you or a loved one has recently undergone breast cancer surgery, this guide will assist you in the process of buying a breast prosthesis.
What is a Breast Prosthesis?
Breast prostheses, also known as breast forms, are made out of various materials and are worn to simulate the natural breast. They offer a gentle, non-invasive alternative to breast reconstruction surgery. They come in all shapes and sizes and no matter what sort of surgery you went through, there is a breast form available that will work for you.
Why Wear a Breast Prosthesis
In addition to restoring the aesthetics of your body, breast forms provide necessary support to prevent certain discomforts and possible health problems. If you had a lumpectomy, partial breast forms can fill in the space of your bra, which prevents it from moving around or riding up.
A double mastectomy will require full breast forms, which restore balance and symmetry to the body. This is crucial in preventing chronic neck and back pain down the line. Another benefit of wearing a breast prosthesis is that they provide a protective barrier for any scarring and sensitivities at the surgical site.
When Can I Wear a Prosthesis?
Immediately following your surgery, your doctor will advise you as to the amount of time required for healing before you can begin to wear a breast prosthesis. Often, soft foam breast forms can be worn in the days immediately following your surgery.
If you have invested in a post-surgical bra, but find it to be uncomfortable at the beginning of your recovery, you can replace it with a soft camisole top with a pocket to hold the breast form or sports bra. After about 6-8 weeks in recovery, you can usually then be fitted for a permanent breast prosthesis.
Times may vary if you had radiation treatment or chemotherapy. Each individual woman is different so check in with your doctor and surgeon for their time frame recommendations.
Types of Breast Prostheses
When considering whether or not to wear a breast form, it is important to review the various types of materials used to design them and the different styles available. In the early stages of recovery, many women will benefit from soft foam or fiberfill based breast form. These are lightweight and ideal for sensitive skin. Though they look and feel less like a natural breast, they are often more affordable than alternative types.
Once some progress has been made in healing, a heavier and more realistic breast form can be considered. These are often made out of medical-grade silicone and look and feel more realistic. They are heavier and sometimes more cumbersome to wear, especially in warmer temperatures. Silicone breast forms more accurately represent the natural breast shape and many women feel comfortable knowing this.
If you are the type to partake in various physical activities, such as swimming, there are special breast forms designed for this as well. Swim forms are often silicone-based but a bit more lightweight than everyday silicone breast forms.
The Fitting Process
The process of getting fitted for a prosthesis may feel overwhelming, and we recommend working one on one with a board-certified mastectomy fitter. These are trained professionals who can not only ensure that your breast form fits you perfectly, but they can address any questions or concerns you might have throughout the process. Many women find the certified fitter to be an important ally to them in their recovery process.
During your initial appointment for a breast prosthesis fitting, you can expect your certified fitter to take your measurements as well as to assess your surgical sites and any scarring. They will provide educational information about your options, and this is a great time to ask any questions you might have.
A mastectomy bra is designed specifically for women who choose to wear a breast prosthesis or prostheses. I
Mastectomy bras are engineered with pockets sewn into the cups that you can place your breast form in. The pocket ensures that the breast form stays in place. In addition, the pockets make it easy to remove the breast forms as needed for care and cleaning.
Mastectomy bras are often designed with soft fabrics for sensitive skin. They have wider straps and bands to provide the highest level of support and comfort throughout your recovery.
Buying a Breast Prosthesis
Prior to making any purchases, it is ideal to speak with your insurance company to find out what they offer in the way of reimbursement for items such as breast forms. Many times insurance companies will cover the cost of the breast prosthesis or at least partially. Sometimes they will indicate specific requirements, such as a written prescription from a doctor. In order to qualify for the largest reimbursement, you will want to be sure you fulfill all of their requirements when purchasing your breast forms.
Artificial breast forms are the preference of many women who prefer not to undergo reconstructive breast surgery. At A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe, we aim to make the fitting and purchasing experience as rewarding and stress-free as possible.
We understand that each woman’s situation is unique and no two women’s bodies are quite the same. Please feel free to fill out our online contact form today to begin your personalized breast prosthesis fitting process.