Breast Prostheses After Surgery

According to the latest statistics, 1 in 8 women are at risk of developing some type of breast cancer in their lifetime. Surgery is the primary course of treatment for most cases, and breast cancer survivors often wonder what their options are after surgery to help them feel confident in their bodies again. Mastectomy bras and breast prostheses are an excellent way to help you regain your confidence after surgery. So, here is your guide to bras and breast protheses after surgery.

Types of Breast Cancer Surgery

As part of the treatment for breast cancer, most women will undergo some form of breast surgery. Your doctor may recommend surgery for several reasons, including the removal of as much cancerous tissue as possible, a biopsy to determine whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, or preventative treatment.

Understanding your surgical options can help you discuss which is the right course of treatment for your case with your health care professional.


A mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast and in some cases some of the surrounding tissue. Some women also opt to have a double mastectomy in which both breasts are removed either due to cancer present in both breasts and incase cancer spreads to the other breast.

Typically, women with larger tumors or more advanced cancers choose a mastectomy. However, you may also be better suited for a mastectomy due to previous treatment programs or the type and location of the tumor.

Breast-conserving Surgery

Breast-conserving operations include surgeries such as lumpectomy, partial mastectomy, quadrantectomy, and segmental mastectomy. These surgeries aim to preserve as much breast tissue and the chest-wall as possible while still removing the cancer.

Breast-conserving surgery is suitable for women with early-stage breast cancer, or women with smaller tumors. However, your eligibility for breast-conserving surgery depends on your medical history and the location of the tumor. Most women who choose to have a type of breast-conserving surgery also need additional radiotherapy.

Lymph Node Surgery

In some cases, you may need additional surgery to the area around the breasts to determine whether cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes under the arm are usually the first place that breast cancer spreads and the presence of cancer cells in the lymph nodes is a good indicator that cancer may have spread to other parts of the body.

A lymph node biopsy can help doctors better assess the stage of the cancer and develop a suitable course of treatment. There are two lymph node surgery options which your doctor can recommend depending on the size and location of the breast cancer.

Reconstructive Surgery

Reconstructive surgery involves rebuilding the breast after the removal of the cancerous tissue. Breast reconstruction can be done at the same time as your mastectomy or at a later date depending on the type of reconstructive surgery you need.

Breast Prostheses

For women who have chosen not to undergo reconstructive surgery, external breast prostheses, or breast forms, are a great alternative to help you regain shape and balance in your body.

Types of Breast Prostheses

Breast prostheses come in a range of types and sizes to suit all women. Even women who have had breast-conserving surgery have a great selection of choices to add volume and shape.

Silicone Prostheses

Silicone prostheses offer the most natural weight and movement. They are typically made from an outer shell and filled with silicone gel or fiberfill. They are available as full or partial forms and in a range of shapes.

Foam Prostheses

Foam and fiberfill prostheses are lighter and cooler to wear and are better suited to sports and leisure activities. They can be worn inside a Jodee mastectomy bra, or you can wear a Jodee Perma-form which has foam forms directly sewn into the bra cup, which eliminates the problem of foam foams that ride up or shift.

Partials or Shapers

Partial breast prostheses are perfect for women who have undergone breast-conserving surgery as they fit discreetly inside your mastectomy bra to give shape and volume. Most partials and shapers are made from silicone and can be worn with or without adhesive backing.

Swim Prostheses

If you enjoy the water but worry about how your swimsuit will fit after surgery, swim prostheses are the perfect solution to give you the volume and shape you need. Swimwear prostheses are specially designed to repel water, are lightweight and feature ribbed backing to allow for the air to circulate to prevent suction. These, too, come in a variety of shapes to suit your body type.

Breast Prostheses Shapes

Within the types of breast prostheses, there are several shapes you can choose from to find the best fit and match for your natural breast shape.


Teardrop-shaped prostheses are fuller at the base and tapered towards the top. This shape is best suited to women with less volume above the nipple. They can be worn on both the right and left-hand side of the body.


Symmetrical prostheses are generally oval or triangular shaped. Oval shaped prostheses are ideal for women with more overall or with breasts that project further outward. Triangular shaped prostheses are better suited to women with a wider chest cavity and more volume towards the underarms.


Asymmetrical prostheses are specifically designed to fit women who have had extensive tissue removal as they taper off toward the underarm area. This type of prosthesis has a left and a right-hand side.

Custom Prostheses

Many providers of mastectomy products also offer customizable breast prostheses such as the ABC custom-made breast form which features featherweight silicone construction and cool wearing technology. They are also able to customize the prosthesis to your shape and skin tone for the most natural looking and feeling breast prosthesis available.

A fitting for an ABC custom-made breast form includes initial consultation, 3D scan session for pinpoint accuracy, and final fitting to achieve the perfect fit.

Mastectomy Bras

Mastectomy Bras

Though it isn’t necessary to wear a breast prosthesis with a mastectomy bra, many women find that a mastectomy bra gives them added security for their prosthesis while providing support for the remaining breast.

How to Choose a Mastectomy Bra

For women who choose to wear breast prostheses daily, keeping them secure and comfortable can be a source of stress. A mastectomy bra is specifically designed to hold breast prostheses securely without the risk of slipping of shifting throughout the day. When shopping for a mastectomy bra, there are a few features to look for.

Bilateral Interior Pockets

Interior pockets are designed to hold breast forms without the need for adhesives. Soft mesh or cotton pockets are sewn inside the bra cup, and the breast forms sit snuggly inside. Pockets can hold all types of breast forms.

Wide Bands

Interior pockets are designed to hold breast forms without the need for adhesives. Soft mesh or cotton pockets are sewn inside the bra cup, and the breast forms sit snuggly inside. Pockets can hold all types of breast forms.

Wide Bands

Wide underbust and back bands help to hold your breast prosthesis more securely and allow the mastectomy bra to fit better to the contours of your body. For additional support, they are also longline bras which have extended bands with firming and smoothing features.

Adjustable Straps

For a more customized fit, look for mastectomy bras with adjustable straps. Adjustable straps can help you to achieve a balanced silhouette while also keeping your breast prosthesis in place. If you require additional support or have a larger breast size, look for mastectomy bras that feature wide or padded straps that help you distribute the weight evenly across your shoulders.

Type of Bra

There are a huge range of types of bras to choose from. Make sure you try a selection of bras to suit your activities. For immediately after surgery, you will need a compression or recovery bra to avoid lymphedema. Once you have healed, an everyday seamless t-shirt bra and a leisure bra can take you from work to play, while a lingerie-style bra is perfect for special occasions.

Getting Fitted

The best way to find the right breast forms and mastectomy bras for your body is to go for a personalized fitting. Whether you have had a complete mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery, all women can benefit from a consultation with a professional fitter.

What to Expect from a Fitting

A post-mastectomy bra fitting is performed by a certified fitter who has been trained either through an education program offered by manufacturers of mastectomy products or through a nationally recognized certification organization such as the Board of Orthotists (BOC).

The best time to schedule a fitting is approximately 6 – 8 weeks after your surgery as the swelling and tenderness around the surgical sites will have reduced, and your measurements will be more accurate. However, you may also find it helpful to visit a fitter before your surgery to discuss recovery bras, compression wear, and temporary prostheses for use immediately after surgery.

At A Fitting Experience, your fitting will be conducted professionally and discreetly at our accredited post-mastectomy facility. At a fitting, the fitter will evaluate the skin around your surgical site, and the condition and volume of remaining breast tissue. They will then measure your chest, underbust, and other points around the arms and back to determine the right cup and band size for your post-surgical bra.

If you have a remaining breast, our fitter may examine the shape and movement of your natural breast the find the best fit for your breast forms. They may ask about your type of breast surgery to help you find a breast form to give you the most natural sense of symmetry and balance.

Fitting Room Tips

To help your fitting go as smoothly as possible, there are a few things you can do during the fitting process.

Wear the Right Clothes

Close fitting clothes, such as your favorite tank or t-shirt, will help the fitter get more accurate measurements and gain a better idea about your body type. Close fitting tops can also help you better see how the mastectomy bra will look under your clothes.

Be Patient

Finding the perfect fitting breast form and bra takes time. Don’t be afraid to try on multiple styles and sizes. Often, different brands have slightly different measurements, so it is worth trying on a cup or band size higher or lower than your recommended size. Don’t be afraid to speak up and let your fitter know if a certain style is not to your liking or if a prosthesis feels uncomfortable.

Buy a Selection

Mastectomy bras come in a huge range of beautiful, feminine styles, and though it might be tempting to fill your closet with gorgeous lacy bras, make sure you buy a selection of bras for all occasions. There are some amazing sports mastectomy bras and leisure bras that can be worn with lightweight breast prostheses. You should also look at comfortable t-shirt bras for everyday wear.

Care and Maintenance

Breast prostheses and mastectomy bras are a worthwhile investment and caring for your mastectomy products properly can help increase their life and performance.

Clean breast prostheses every day with a soft cloth, warm water, and mild soap. Avoid wringing out foam forms as they can lose their shape. Keep you breast prostheses away from sharp objects such as fingernails, pins or brooches to avoid piercing the shell. To keep your breast prostheses safe when you aren’t wearing them or while traveling, store them in a travel case.

Your mastectomy bra can be washed on a gentle machine cycle along with other delicates and line dried. Mastectomy bras featuring embroidery or embellishments should be washed inside a wash bag or by hand to avoid damage. Consult the care instructions for each item as some bras require additional care.

mastectomy bra

Cost and Insurance

The cost of breast prostheses varies depending on the type you choose with simple foam forms at the lower end of price range and custom prostheses at the higher end. At, we have breast prostheses to suit every budget.

According to the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act 1998, the cost of your prostheses should be covered by your insurance along with the costs of your mastectomy. The copays and co-insurance are generally 10 – 50%. Some plans also cover the cost of replacing your breast prostheses every few years. Coverage for custom breast prostheses varies according to your provider and plan. Be sure to carefully go over your plan before making any purchases. Our knowledgeable team at A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe can provide insurance guidance.

A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe is an accredited ASCOP Medicare facility, which means we can contact your health care provider on your behalf regarding prescriptions and billing.

Final Thoughts

Finding the perfect fitting prosthesis and bra can help you to regain your body confidence after surgery. At A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe, we offer a professional a post-mastectomy bra fitting service with certified fitters who work with you to help find the right mastectomy products to suit your needs.

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