Breast cancer surgery already packs a substantial physical and emotional wallop. Then comes the choice between reconstructive surgery and using breast prosthetics, one of the most overwhelming decisions facing a breast cancer survivor. The good news is, if choosing a breast prosthetic, the quality available along with today’s post-operative bra has helped ease the trepidation we feel in our new and changed bodies.What are Prosthetic Breasts?
Women choose to forgo breast reconstruction for a variety of reasons, whether it’s the added cost, or the desire to simply get on with the healing and not have to worry about another major surgical procedure. Some hold off on reconstruction until a later date.
For women who do choose prosthetic breasts, the proper breast form will be virtually undetectable in terms of size and weight. It’s the easiest way to fill the space where your breast was and will make you appear balanced, so you feel as confident and beautiful in your clothes as you did pre-surgery. If you’ve had a double mastectomy, you can use two breast forms.
Every woman is different, and so breast forms come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, from foam or fiberfill to silicone gel. Some breast forms are weighted to feel like your original breast, while others are light. Some have a raised nipple. A breast prosthetic can easily be slipped into a mastectomy bra or bathing suit. Some are attached with a magnet, others with gel adhesive.
Most breast forms are specially designed to reduce perspiration and increase dryness, and they’re made of soft material, which is important to prevent painful chafing on mastectomy scars.
What’s the Difference Between a Temporary and a Permanent Prosthetic?
A temporary breast prosthetic is a soft, lightweight foam-filled breast form that is usually worn inside a bra and can be used any time after surgery. It’s lighter, so it doesn’t put added strain on a woman’s recovering body.
A permanent breast prosthetic is heavier and usually made of silicon, to feel like a woman’s natural breast. A permanent prosthetic shouldn’t be used until six weeks post-op when a woman is well on her way to a full recovery. Because it’s meant to match the weight of the healthy breast, a permanent prosthetic can help prevent any back and neck strain issues that might arise from being unbalanced. Like the temporary prosthetic, a permanent breast form can be easily tucked into a mastectomy bra or swimsuit.
Where can I Buy a Prosthetic Breast?
Specialty mastectomy shops carry a wide selection of both post-operative bras and breast forms and will help take the guesswork out of deciding what’s right for you. The breast form fitting is similar to a bra fitting. A professional fitter will take measurements and answer questions about the fitting process, and show you samples of breast forms and mastectomy bras. It’s important to meet with a professional and certified fitter who is trained in breast prosthetics.