Choosing to wear breast prostheses post-mastectomy is an excellent alternative to reconstructive breast surgery. Breast forms echo the feel and appearance of natural breasts, including breast size.
How Long Will a Breast Prosthesis Last?
Newer styles of breast forms are designed to be worn inside mastectomy bras specially designed to hold prosthetics or attached directly to your chest wall with specialized adhesive. Caring correctly for your breast forms prolongs your prostheses’ life, extending the amount of time you can wear them.
Most women begin wearing their breast forms as soon as six weeks after their surgery. These prosthetics can be worn as often as you’d like, even overnight, if that’s what makes you most comfortable.
There’s no time limit on how many minutes or hours breast forms can be worn throughout the day, although many women like to take a break from them sometimes or substitute in a lighter form if they are lounging at home.
Under the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA), your insurance provider is required to cover prosthetics, but each company has different coverage. On average, companies will pay for new breast prosthetics once every two years. With that in mind, it’s essential to take good care of your breast forms so you can extend the life of your forms.
How to Care for Breast Forms
There are a few soaps and cleansers that have been specially formulated for breast forms. American Breast Care Form Cleaner is a mild liquid soap that can be gently agitated against the back part of your silicone breast forms to easily remove residue left over from your adhesive or restore the surface of a self-adhering prosthetic.
Each breast form brand has its specific instructions for care, so you’ll want to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on how to clean your type of breast form, but most use the following approach:
Hand wash only
It’s tempting to toss your breast forms into the laundry with your mastectomy bras and other lingerie. Taking a little extra time to hand wash your breast forms protects them from sharp objects they may encounter in the wash cycle. A gentle or delicate cycle might still be too vigorous and could remove an adhesive backing on your form.
Clean forms every day
A smart idea that makes cleaning your forms easy is to wash them whenever you shower or bathe—taking a few seconds to quickly clean your forms while you are in the shower and get the job done fast and efficiently. You can keep your ABC Breast Form Wash or other mild soap on your shower shelf with your body wash or shampoo. You can even use your regular loofah or other non-abrasive sponge for the task.
After washing your forms with warm water and the cleanser of your choice, gently dry them with a soft towel. Avoid squeezing the forms to wring out excess water as this can contribute to forms losing their shape. Instead, use a towel to pat them dry and leave them to air dry gently. Microfiber is best for this job because it’s soft and gentle. Resist the urge to put your forms in a dryer, even on a delicate tumble. Tumble drying can remove the adhesive backing while damaging the outer layer of the form.
Silicone gels are great for reducing scarring, but you should avoid using them on your chest when you intend to wear your breast forms. These products react with your breast form’s outer shell and will break down the adhesive backing, preventing them from adhering correctly and causing them to shift under your clothes. Avoid using any product on the side of the body you plan on wearing your form.
Most breast forms come with a storage box to keep them in. Ensure your breast forms don’t lose their original shape by keeping them protected in this box when you’re not wearing them. There are specially designed cases such as the ABC Breast Form Travel and Storage Case you can purchase separately for traveling if you’d prefer.
The Bottom Line
Choosing to wear breast forms and mastectomy bras over having additional surgeries is a personal choice every woman with breast cancer faces. While some women might choose to undergo reconstructive surgery, it’s not for everyone.
By following some simple guidelines on how to care for your breast forms correctly, you’ll keep them in excellent condition and extend their lives until you’re ready to call A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe (954) 978-8287 to schedule a fitting for new ones.