What is a prosthesis?

There are various types of post-mastectomy and lumpectomy prostheses, also called breast forms. Manufacturers make a wide selection of types, shapes, sizes, and colors.

The type of prosthesis required is determined by the amount of breast tissue that is removed. A prosthesis can be worn against the skin, inside the pocket of a mastectomy bra, or attached to the chest wall. Prosthetic devices are designed to look feminine while ensuring comfort.

What are the various types of prosthetic devices?

External silicone breast prosthesis

An external silicone breast prosthesis is a weighted prosthesis, made of silicone, which is designed to simulate natural breast tissue. Because this type of breast prosthesis is weighted, it may help your posture, prevent shoulder drop, and problems with balance.

Non-silicone breast prosthesis

A non-silicone breast prosthesis is a light-weight breast form, made of foam or fiberfill, which may be worn following a mastectomy. Non-silicone breast prostheses may be worn during exercise, swimming, and hot weather.

Attachable breast

An attachable breast is a self-adhesive breast form that attaches securely to the chest wall with adhesive strips.

Post-surgical soft form in camisole

A post-surgical soft form in camisole is a light-weight, removable breast form that fits into a camisole garment (a soft, stretchy garment with lace elastic straps that can be pulled up over the hips if raising the arms is difficult). Post-surgical camisole is often worn immediately following a mastectomy, lumpectomy, radiation therapy, or during reconstruction breast surgery.

Partial breast prosthesis, also called a shaper or shell

Partial breast prosthesis, also called shaper or shell is a breast form made of foam, fiberfill, or silicone. This type of breast prosthesis is designed to be worn over your own breast tissue to enhance the overall size of the breast and to create a fuller appearance. A partial breast prosthesis can be worn with a regular bra or a post-mastectomy bra.

What is a post-mastectomy bra?

Post-mastectomy (or simply mastectomy) bras resemble regular bras but with one important difference - they have spandex stretch pockets on the inside which help hold and keep the breast prosthesis in place. Mastectomy bras can be purchased at specialty shops or mastectomy boutiques. A certified mastectomy fitter, who is trained and experienced, can assist you in selecting and fitting the appropriate prosthesis and mastectomy bra that meets your individual needs.

Some mastectomy shops, upon request, will sew in pockets to your regular bras, swimsuits, and nightgowns.

Frequently asked questions about prostheses:

Q: Where do I go to be fitted for a prosthesis and a post-mastectomy bra?

A: There are many mastectomy boutiques and specialty shops that carry all types of prostheses and post-mastectomy garments. Most specialty shops employ certified fitters who are specially-trained to fit women for breast prostheses. Many mastectomy shops are owned by women who have had breast cancer themselves.

At your first fitting appointment, remember to wear a garment that fits properly (possibly a knit top), so that you can see the shape of your breast when trying on your new prosthesis.

Your physician, oncology nurse, local American Cancer Society Reach for Recovery program, or other breast cancer organization can recommend specialty shops and boutiques in your area that carry prosthetic devices and garments.

Q: How soon can I be fitted for a breast prosthesis after a mastectomy?

A: After surgery, your surgeon will recommend the appropriate time for you to start wearing a prosthesis. This will depend upon your medical condition, the post-operative healing process, and the type of mastectomy that was performed.

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