Breast Cancer & Prosthetics
A breast prosthesis is an artificial breast that is worn following a mastectomy.
After surgery, a majority of women choose a breast prosthesis to regain their figure, restore their self-confidence, and to simply make their clothes fit better.
A breast prosthesis adds another practical benefit in that it provides coverage and protection to aid in further healing.
Most likely your doctor or oncologist has already advised you on when to start using a breast prosthesis, or has recommended the type of breast prosthesis right for you and where to obtain one.
Choosing & buying a breast prosthesis
Usually, a breast prosthesis is purchased with a mastectomy bra that has pockets to hold the prosthesis in place.
At the local shopping center, specialty lingerie shops and even larger US department stores (Nordstrom, JCPenney, and even Walgreens) have breast prostheses and mastectomy bras for sale, along with knowledgeable staff to help with fit, size and comfort.
While there are online vendors, it's always best to shop in person for expert advice and a better fit. As you shop, you'll see size charts to help you determine which size to purchase based on your bra size. You'll find colors to match your skin tone, and different shapes depending on whether you've had a partial, full, or double mastectomy.
The cost of a breast prosthesis varies with materials. Silicone breast prostheses are more expensive, but they more closely mimic a natural breast in appearance and weight. More affordable options are foam, fiberfill, and other non-silicone materials.
Before making a purchase, find out what your medical insurance will cover. Typically, medical plans will pay for a new prosthesis every two years. (Shopping tip: During the month of October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, mastectomy shops usually have sales on mastectomy bras and other items.)
If medical bills are piling up, there are even do-it-yourself sewing or knitting projects that enable you to craft a homemade prosthesis (also see How to Make a Rubber Prosthesis and How to Make a "Seed" Prosthesis).
Up ahead, find more information around the web with expert tips on where and what to look for, and how to choose a prosthesis following breast surgery:
The Breast Form FAQ
Check out this definitive site for breast prostheses. It's all covered and easy to navigate.
Review the choices available with descriptions on silicone, non-silicone, attachable, soft forms or shells, post-mastectomy bras, and a related FAQ from the Johns Hopkins Medical Library.
Choosing a Breast Prosthesis: A Survivor’s Perspective
Excellent first-person account of what it's like shopping for your first prosthesis following surgery.