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Choosing a Prosthesis After Breast Cancer Surgery

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(continued)

What kinds of prosthetics are used after breast surgery? continued...

Custom-made breast forms

A custom-made form is made by making a mold of your chest area so that the form will fit your chest and body exactly. Because of the extra work involved, custom-made breast forms cost much more than ready-made forms. Your insurance may not cover this extra cost.

Your local American Cancer Society chapter can help you find companies that make custom-made breast forms. You can also find companies on the Internet.

Accessories

Breast forms can be worn with regular bras, but you may have trouble keeping them in place. You can make or buy pockets that you sew into your regular bras to keep the form from moving around.

Or you can buy mastectomy bras. These special bras now come in almost as many styles and colors as regular bras do. They have built-in pockets to hold all types of breast forms.

Some breast forms can be attached directly to the skin, using special glue or tape. They can stay on for several days at a time.

There are many styles of swimsuits now for women who have had breast surgery. The suits have built-in pockets for breast forms.

Check to see if your insurance will cover the cost of a prosthesis and mastectomy bra. Many policies do.

What are the benefits of getting a breast form?

  • Some women feel much better having both sides of the chest match under their clothes.
  • A breast form may help your clothes fit better or help your bra stay in place.

What are the disadvantages?

  • Breast forms require some maintenance. They need to be washed regularly and stored properly. They need to be rinsed out after you swim in chlorinated or salt water.
  • They can be expensive if you don't have insurance.
  • You may feel less comfortable in revealing clothes than you might if you had reconstructive surgery.
  • Breast forms that are glued to your skin can make your skin feel very warm. Some women find that their skin is sensitive to the glue, especially after radiation treatments.

How soon can you wear a breast form?

  • There are soft, weightless forms that you can wear right after surgery while your scar heals.
  • Silicone breast forms typically aren't worn until the area has healed (usually 6 to 8 weeks after surgery).
  • You may need to wait even longer to wear a silicone form if you have radiation treatment after your surgery. Radiation can make wearing a silicone breast form uncomfortable, because your skin may be extra sensitive.

Where can you get a breast form?

You can find breast forms at most surgical supply stores and lingerie stores—and even the lingerie departments of some department stores. Breast forms can also be purchased over the Internet.

Most experts recommend getting the help of a trained fitter. When you go for a fitting, wear a close-fitting top so that you can really see how the breast form looks and moves.

Take a partner or good friend with you for a second opinion and support.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 28, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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