Breast cancer and breast cancer surgery are seemingly insurmountable experiences, yet many women come out on the other side stronger than they could have imagined. That is not to discount the grief and struggle that accompanies them.
If you or a loved one has recently endured breast cancer surgery, or if you are preparing for one, you may have been asked to consider breast reconstruction surgery and breast prostheses to restore the shape of your body afterward. If you have opted out of reconstructive surgery, you are not alone, and wearing a high-quality breast prosthesis can help you look and feel great in a non-invasive way.
Breast Forms - The Basics
Breast forms, also called breast prostheses, are designed to simulate the look and feel of the natural breast shape. Breast forms come in many styles and sizes to accommodate women under a number of varying circumstances.
Typically, breast forms are designed with lightweight foam and fiberfill material or a heavier silicone. Depending on your stage of healing and personal preference, one style may work better for you than the other.
Foam and fiberfill breast forms can usually be worn shortly after your surgery, while silicone breast forms usually require about six to eight weeks of healing before they can be comfortably worn. Foam forms feel comfortable and easy to wear, while silicone forms are heavier but provide a more natural feel. In either case, you will want to check with your doctor prior to wearing either.
Breast prostheses come in a variety of types depending upon the extent of your surgery. Various shapes of breast forms can be used to accentuate the remainder of your natural breast and fill in spaces in your bra. Some of the types available include:
Symmetrical forms come in different shapes to suit the natural drape of your breasts. Round forms are ideal for women with a fuller breast projection and equal volume both above and below the nipple, while teardrop-shaped forms are better suited to women with more breast volume below the nipple.
For women with a wide chest wall, triangular-shaped forms such as the ABC Standard Triangle Breast Form features a winged design that stretches comfortably over the chest and under the arms.
For women who have had a unilateral mastectomy and only require a single breast prosthesis, asymmetrical forms can achieve a better fit and more natural look than symmetrical styles. Asymmetrical forms including the Classique Asymmetrical Silicone Breast Form are worn either on the right or left side of the body and feature a tapered end that contours your natural shape and ends underneath your arm.
Partial Forms and Shapers
If you have chosen breast-conserving surgery and still have a substantial amount of breast tissue, partial forms or shapers are designed to add volume where you need it most to help balance out your body. They come in a variety of shapes including to suit your needs and fit perfectly inside pocketed mastectomy bras.
The Amoena Balance Essential Silicone Shaper comes in a versatile ellipse shape to add volume underneath the bust or in the armpit. The standard silicone layer is coated in a soft film for better comfort and it can be worn directly against your skin as well as inside a bra.
The Benefits of Wearing a Breast Prosthesis
The decision to wear (or not to wear) a breast prosthesis is truly a personal choice that each woman must make. Some women feel self-conscious about the shape of their body following breast surgery after cancer.
Wearing a breast prosthesis can restore the feminine shape and figure of your body without requiring you to undergo another major surgery. Breast forms allow you to continue wearing your pre-surgery clothes without them feeling baggy or uncomfortable.
One of the best reasons to wear breast prostheses is the fact that they help to restore balance and symmetry to your body, which can prevent further health issues. Balance and symmetry ensure that you are able to maintain good posture and prevent chronic neck, back, and shoulder pain.
Wearing a breast form can sometimes feel cumbersome, especially said of silicone forms in the heat of the summer. Some women prefer to keep two or more different types of breast forms so that they can alternate according to seasons, weather, and activities. While other women choose to fully customize their breast prosthesis.
Mastectomy bras are designed for women who have endured breast cancer surgery and who require more support and comfort than a regular bra provides. Additionally, a mastectomy bra commonly features pockets sewn into the cups for the purpose of securely holding breast forms in place. In the past, women would sew their breast forms into the cups of their bras making it difficult to remove for cleaning and care.
Other features to look for when shopping for a mastectomy bra include wide and adjustable straps for maximum comfort and varying levels of support. Front closures minimize movement and friction which may irritate sensitive areas. Soft and seamless fabrics minimize skin irritation, a common occurrence in women who have undergone radiation therapy.
A good mastectomy bra should feature molded cups that maintain their shape and provide an excellent level of support as opposed to underwires which often cause discomfort for women in already-sensitive areas. Mastectomy bras come in a range of styles and sizes to meet the needs of every woman. The Amoena Celine wire-free post-mastectomy bra offers a valuable combination of style, support, and comfort featuring ultrasoft microfiber and mesh fabrics.
How to Choose the Perfect Breast Form and Mastectomy bra
If you are considering purchasing breast forms and a mastectomy bra for yourself or a loved one, one of the best ways to ensure that you make a purchase that suits you is to work with a board-certified mastectomy fitter. Certified mastectomy fitters are accredited through the American Board for Certification after receiving extensive education and training on post-mastectomy fittings and essentials.
A certified fitter is an ally in every woman’s recovery. They accurately assess your surgical sites and take measurements to determine your new bra size. They can answer any questions you might have in regards to post-mastectomy products.
In addition, they can help you navigate the process of communicating with your insurance company to find out whether they will reimburse you for your breast prosthesis and mastectomy bra.
Although breast cancer and breast cancer surgery can be difficult and challenging experiences, every woman deserves a fresh start when everything is said and done. We strive to make the process of shopping for post-mastectomy products stress-free for women from all walks of life. Should you have questions or comments about our products please don’t hesitate to contact us.