Breast cancer is a devastating disease that affects around 3.8 million women across the United States. In addition to the physical and emotional toll of undergoing treatment, breast cancer survivors often face the challenge of living with a changed body image.
Breast prostheses can help women feel more comfortable and confident without surgical breast reconstruction. But choosing the right type of prosthesis can be overwhelming. There are two main types: a custom breast prosthesis and an off-the-shelf breast prosthesis.
While off-the-shelf prostheses are widely available and generally less expensive, custom prostheses are made specifically for the individual and can offer a more personalized fit. Understanding the types, cost, and how to choose a prosthesis can help you decide which breast form is suitable for your body.
Off-the-Shelf Breast Prosthesis
Off-the-shelf breast prostheses are pre-made prostheses that come in a range of standard sizes and shapes. Most off-the-shelf prostheses are made from lightweight materials such as silicone, foam, or fiberfill and are designed to be worn inside a pocket sewn into a bra or swimsuit.
Benefits of an Off-the-Shelf Breast Prosthesis
Off-the-shelf prostheses are typically less expensive than custom prostheses, which can be a major factor for those who are uninsured or underinsured. In addition, off-the-shelf prostheses are readily available and can be purchased online, making them a convenient option for women who may not have access to specialized medical facilities.
Another advantage of an off-the-shelf breast prosthesis is the range of options available. Breast forms come in different sizes, shapes, and materials. Some models come in pairs which can be an excellent choice for women who have undergone a double mastectomy. Some prostheses are designed for specific activities, such as swimming or exercising, while others are made to be worn all day for everyday use.
Many off-the-shelf prostheses also come with accessories like adhesive strips or spray to help you feel more comfortable. You can also wear your breast form inside a pocketed mastectomy bra for added security.
Drawbacks of an Off-the-Shelf Prosthesis
One of the main concerns with off-the-shelf breast forms is the fit. Since off-the-shelf prostheses are made in standard sizes, they may not fit perfectly for everyone. This can be challenging for women with a mastectomy or lumpectomy that has left them with an uneven chest.
Off-the-shelf prostheses may not have the same level of comfort and natural appearance as custom breast forms, which are made to fit your body shape and size.
Top Off-the-Shelf Prostheses
The Anita TriFirst Fabric Mastectomy Breast Form is ideal for wearing immediately after surgery. The ultra-soft cotton-polyester blend material is seam-free to reduce irritation, and the pre-formed shape can be filled with medical-grade fleece to enhance your bust shape.
The Amoena Adapt Air features innovative air chamber technology, which allows you to adjust the breast volume to contour to your chest wall for a more comfortable fit.
The ABC MyShape Silicone Breast Prosthesis features an Amandasil™ silicone back that molds perfectly to your chest wall, offering the most personalized fit in an off-the-shelf breast form. The RFS design sits flush with your bra cup, keeping your curves centered, while the specialized back reduces shifting for secure wear.
Custom Breast Prostheses
Custom breast prostheses are designed and made to fit your body’s unique shape and size. They are made by taking 3D scans to create a mold of your chest and then fabricating a prosthesis that matches the mold. Custom prostheses are more expensive than off-the-shelf prostheses but offer several advantages.
Benefits of a Custom Breast Prosthetic
Custom prostheses offer a more comfortable and natural fit. They are made from soft, lightweight silicone designed to fit comfortably against the chest wall, reducing the risk of skin irritation or discomfort. The prosthesis can be customized to match your remaining breast, providing a more symmetrical appearance.
They are designed to match your natural breast as closely as possible, providing a realistic appearance. The prosthesis is made to match your skin tone and nipple shape. This is beneficial for women who want to feel more confident and comfortable after breast surgery without undergoing reconstructive surgery.
Drawbacks of a Custom Prosthesis
While custom breast forms offer several advantages over off-the-shelf prostheses, they also have a few potential drawbacks.
Custom prostheses can be more expensive than off-the-shelf options, and Medicare’s lack of coverage for custom prosthetic devices may mean a bespoke breast form is not within your budget. Always check with your insurance company to determine if they offer coverage for custom breast forms.
Another potential drawback of custom breast forms is the time it takes to create them. Unlike off-the-shelf prostheses, which can be purchased and worn immediately, custom prostheses require a fitting appointment, mold creation, and fabrication. This process takes between 6 to 8 weeks.
Women with skin sensitivities or allergies may experience irritation or discomfort from the materials used to create the prosthesis. Women with certain medical conditions or mobility limitations may find that the weight or design of a custom prosthesis is unsuitable for their needs.
Top Custom Breast Form
At A Fitting Experience, we use state-of-the-art American Breast Care custom prostheses that are 45% lighter than standard off-the-shelf silicone breast forms. The Advanced Cooling Technology (ACT) integrated into the silicone helps to transform your body heat into a cooling sensation that enables you to regulate your body temperature.
Find the Right Fit at A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe
Breast forms offer an excellent alternative to surgical reconstruction. But choosing a breast prosthesis is a personal decision that should be based on individual needs and preferences. Off-the-shelf prostheses offer convenience, affordability, and ease of replacement, while custom prostheses provide a more personalized fit and natural appearance.
Consider the pros and cons of each option and consult with your healthcare provider and a certified mastectomy fitter to determine which type of prosthesis is best for you.
At A Fitting Experience, our ABCOP-certified fitters have the knowledge and experience to help you find the ideal breast forms to match your lifestyle, body shape, health concerns, and budget. Contact us to schedule a fitting and explore our range of custom and off-the-shelf breast prostheses, post mastectomy bras, and surgical garments.