General Information

 

What type of mastectomy have I had?

A mastectomy is surgery to remove a breast. It is performed either to treat or to prevent breast cancer.
There are four main types:

 

  • Total mastectomy - removal of breast tissue and nipple
  • Modified radical mastectomy - removal of the breast, most of the lymph nodes under the arm and often the lining over the chest muscles
  • Lumpectomy - surgery to remove the tumor and a small amount of normal tissue around it
  • Radical mastectomy - the removal of the breast, lymph nodes and chest muscles. This is no longer common

 

The surgery you have had depends on the stage of cancer, size of the tumour, size of the breast and whether the lymph nodes are involved or not.
 

 

What is a breast prosthesis?

A breast prosthesis or breast form is an artificial breast that is used after a surgery in which the breast has been altered or removed. Whether the loss of the breast is permanent or temporary, a breast form is worn to simulate the natural breast and restore body shape. Full breasts and partial breasts, known as equalizers, can be worn to balance the appearance depending on what type of surgical procedure was performed. These forms come in a variety of materials (usually silicone, foam or fiberfill) and they can be worn inside a bra or attached to the body with a special adhesive.
 

What types of breast prostheses are available

Amongst others:


External silicone breast prosthesis. This type of device is made of silicone and is designed to model natural breast tissue. The device is weighted to help prevent shoulder drop and poor balance.
Non silicone breast prosthesis. This prosthesis is a lightweight breast form made of foam or fiberfill and can be worn right after a mastectomy. It can also be worn during exercise and swimming.
Attachable breast. An attachable breast is fastened to the chest wall using adhesive strips.
Partial breast prosthesis. Also called an equalizer or enhancer, this device is made of foam, fiberfill, or silicone. It's designed to be worn over a woman's own breast tissue to create a fuller appearance after a part of her breast is removed, as in the case of lumpectomy.
Swimming Prosthesis. This type has been designed to allow water to drain freely. It is also made of medical grade silicone and weighs 25% less than a standard weighted breast form.

 

 
 

Why would I need a breast prosthesis?

Many women who have been treated for breast cancer have had a surgery that leads to an alteration in their physical appearance. Sometimes these alterations are permanent; they may be temporary if future reconstruction is scheduled.  

 

Advantages of a breast prosthesis

  • Simulates the natural breast
  • Protect your chest and scars
  • Restore natural symmetry
  • Assist with posture balance
  • Keep your bra from shifting or riding up.
  • Help prevent further problems with curvature of the spine, shoulder drop and muscular pain in the neck and back.

 

 

What is a mastectomy bra?

Special bras are made that have pockets to hold the prosthesis. There are many attractive bras that come in varying colors (e.g., white, ivory, black, & nude/beige) that can be fitted at the same time as the prosthesis. New products are always becoming available (in different shapes, weights, etc.) so it is a good idea to visit us to see if there have been any new products since your last fitting.

 

How soon after surgery can a breast form be worn?

It is a good idea to consult with your physician. It varies for each woman, depending on her surgery and healing. Most women will be able to wear a prosthesis (breast form) within 2-8 weeks after her surgery.


Camisoles and initial (fibre filled) prostheses are available and can be worn immediately after surgery whilst the wound is still healing.

At the first fitting appointment, it's recommended that a woman wear a form-fitting garment such as a knit top so she can see how the shape and size of the breast form matches the other breast. With the proper fitting, a prosthesis is undetectable to observers.