After having a mastectomy, most women are self-aware. Fortunately there are many options for patients who do not have breast reconstruction following their mastectomy but who still want to look normal in their clothes.
A breast prosthesis is a breast form that restores the appearance of a woman. While wearing clothes with a properly fitted prosthesis, it may be difficult to tell that a woman has had a mastectomy. Most prostheses are placed inside a pocket of post-surgery bras, bras that have been adapted to hold prostheses. There are also prostheses that can be placed directly on the skin.
Prostheses vary in weight, material, designs and purpose. Prostheses are available to match the color of a patient’s skin. Swimwear and swim prostheses allow those who enjoy water activities to continue to dive in. Exercise forms and bras are designed for those who want to keep fit. Lightweight forms help those with back and shoulder pain in whom a heavy prosthesis may be uncomfortable.
There are also prostheses for women who have asymmetry following surgery or who were born with one breast larger than the other. And for women who have had a nipple removed, silicone nipples and nipple covers are available.
Insurance companies and Medicare will cover post-mastectomy bras and prostheses with a doctor’s prescription. There may be limits imposed as to the number of bras and prostheses that are covered by insurance during a specified time period.
Many metropolitan areas have specialized shops where you can obtain prostheses and bras. Trained fitters are available so that you can obtain your personalized prosthesis. For rural areas, your physician or nurse navigator will be able to direct you to a medical supply company that can meet your needs. There are also online resources. Finally many hospitals and breast cancer support groups have resources available for patients.