When you are diagnosed with breast cancer you are confronted with many overwhelming choices, often without much time to consider all of your options. One choice is whether or not to have reconstructive breast surgery after a lumpectomy or mastectomy. Each woman’s choice is personal and unique, and should be honored as such. It’s part of your unique and personal story.
If you choose not to undergo reconstruction, or had reconstruction and later decided to have explant surgery and go flat, breast prosthetics can be a great accessory option for you. Of course, remaining flat is always certainly an option too! If you do decide that a breast prosthetic is a good alternative to implants or tissue reconstruction, the goal of breast prosthetics (or breast forms) is to create a natural body silhouette so that you feel balanced, comfortable and confident in your bra and clothing.
Why breast forms?
Wearing the right breast form can make a big difference in how you feel every day. Some women want to minimize the number of surgeries they have; others may not be candidates for reconstruction, based on health factors or treatments. The simplest reason you might choose a breast prosthesis is for your clothes to fit comfortably. They could be just a convenient accessory to wear only when you need them – like with a special-occasion outfit or top.
High quality silicone breast forms like the ones made by our partners at Amoena behave like a real breast, moving naturally when you walk and lie down. In fact, some women find they feel better physically, when they wear prosthetic breasts. Think about your posture, and how you might hold your shoulders differently with and without the natural weight of your breasts. A properly-fitting breast form may be something to consider to help with back and neck pain.
Breast form features vary; depending on your lifestyle and activities, you might choose:
Silicone breast forms with an adhesive back that attach directly to your chest;
Lightweight breast form options;
A unique swim form for water activities;
Breast forms with soft gel-back layers to adapt to scars or tissue;
Volume-adjustable breast forms that can be adjusted (as you go through the reconstruction/expansion process, for example);
Temperature equalizing breast forms that can help prevent perspiration under the form; or
Partial breast shapers that fill in for missing tissue, if you've had a lumpectomy.
Comfort should be your main consideration, and the broad choice includes special shapes, smart innovations like Amoena's AirChamber technology, and even custom-made breast forms. Finding a breast form that feels comfortable to you is definitely possible, whatever your needs.
With the help of a certified fit specialist, you can try on different types to see which ones feel best. Many women say they forget they're wearing it.
How does a breast form fit?
To securely hold a breast prosthesis, there are specially designed bras with hidden pockets in the cups. For many years, these mastectomy bras were medical-looking; you may even have written them off as "grandma bras." Today our friends at Amoena have us, those diagnosed with breast cancer, in mind, and prosthetic bras are just as beautiful as any other brand. Yet, they have smart features that address particular needs, like:
A slightly higher neckline and underarm
A wider underbust band for support
Soft, padded straps
Even if you choose a self-adhesive breast form, we recommend wearing it with a bra for the best support. About six to eight weeks after surgery if your scars have healed, you can have a personal fitting before you purchase a mastectomy prosthesis. I don't need a prosthesis, but I'm a little uneven. What can I do? Breast surgeries can have unpredictable results, whether it's lumpectomy or mastectomy with reconstruction. And like natural breasts, reconstructed breasts can have imperfections; the most common of these is size. They aren’t always the same size as a remaining natural breast. Sometimes scar tissue and swelling cause breasts to misshapen. Or years after your initial surgery, you may notice that things have changed on one side or the other. For any of these reasons, or even for natural asymmetry, you might choose to wear a breast shaper, which is a kind of smaller version of a breast prosthesis, to help you feel like yourself again. Breast shapers fit right into your bra; here again, for best results it's important to wear a bra that fits properly. Amoena makes Balance breast shapers that can be rotated to fit exactly where you need them. They offer shapes that are super thin and create a smooth surface if you have scarring or unevenness. They even have a shaper that can be adjusted with a small air pump, in case you have one bra that fits slightly differently than your others. A shaper is an accessory you can wear whenever you like!
Insurance should cover your breast forms or shapers As you know, health care costs in the U.S. can get complicated. But you should also know that if you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and have a prescription from your doctor, Medicare and private insurance should cover the cost of breast prosthetics, breast shapers, and even prosthetic nipples (yes, really).
Where to find more information: Amoena breast forms are designed for optimum comfort and performance.
They’re meant to fit into your life and restore your body confidence. If you have any questions about Amoena prosthetics, you can find Amoena online and contact them directly on Facebook and Instagram, and their website - it has a chat feature if you’d like to reach out. Certified mastectomy fitters have experience with a wide variety of breast prosthetics for cancer patients, and can help you choose which breast form might work best for you. Many of them are breast cancer survivors themselves and wear the products. Allow plenty of time for a breast form fitting, so that you can try all of the options available to you. You can find a fitter near you using this Store Locator: www.amoena.us/stores