What is a breast prosthesis in laymen's terms.
If you’re new to the world of breast cancer it can be overwhelming, understanding the medical jargon and being a sensitive subject you may not want to question your loved one or friend.
Surgery is one of the main treatments for breast cancer. Some women who have a mastectomy (removal of the breast) will choose not to have reconstruction or may have a reconstruction some months or years afterwards.
A Breast Prosthesis is an artificial breast form that replaces the shape of all or part of the breast that has been removed. Prostheses come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and skin tones. They are made from materials that are designed to move, feel and weigh as similar to a natural breast as possible.
After having a mastectomy without breast reconstruction, a breast cancer nurse will provide the patient with a lightweight fabric breast shape to put in their bra. This is often called a softie or a comfy.
A softie or comfy is a lightweight form that is ideal for use after breast surgery, between radiation therapy sessions, for leisure wear, due to Lymphoedema or because of skin sensitivity.
Some women choose to just wear their temporary prosthesis (softie) instead of a permanent prosthesis. View our range of softy breast forms
First Fit Breast Form
Standard and Partial Prostheses
After about 6 weeks after surgery (The time may vary with each person.) a breast care nurse will give the patient a prosthesis fitting. Full or standard prosthesis have various backings designed to go straight against the chest wall where all breast tissue has been removed. It is made of silicone and is matched in size, shape and skin tone to the other breast. If both breasts have been removed the patient can select the size of the prosthesis they feel most comfortable with.
Breast prostheses come in symmetrical, teardrop or asymmetrical shapes.
- Symmetrical forms are usually an oval or triangular shape that can be worn on either the left or right side.
- The teardrop shape is often more suitable for women whose breasts are fuller in the lower and outer area and less full above the nipple. These can also be worn on either the right or left side.
- Asymmetrical forms are generally more suitable for women who have had more extensive surgery as they have extensions to fit under the arm or upper chest wall. However, they can also be used by women who have not had extensive surgery. They are specifically designed for either the left or right side.
A Partial or shaped prosthesis is for women who have had part of their breast removed. It’s worn inside a bra and is shaped to fill out the breast outline. It’s important to choose a prosthesis that suits your lifestyle as much as possible.
In the UK women are provided with free breast prostheses on the NHS (National Health Service) every 2 years.
Swim prostheses are made especially for use when swimming and don’t get damaged by salt water or chlorine like silicone forms will. Swim forms are ideal for those with an active-lifestyle who exercise or for ladies who wish to swim or take part in other water activities. They are lighter in weight than silicone breast forms and some women choose to just wear their swim prosthesis instead of a permanent prosthesis. (Especially ladies with a larger remaining breast as the standard forms can be quite heavy.)
Prosthetic nipples and covers
Prosthetic (or ‘artificial’) nipples are made of soft silicone that can be worn on a reconstructed breast or prosthesis. They are either self-sticking or come with special skin glue that can hold the prosthetic nipple in place for several days. Prosthetic nipples come in different sizes and skin colours but some hospitals custom-make them so they match the nipple on your other breast.
Some ladies also choose to have 3D nipple tattoos
Alternatively, you might find it easier to use a nipple shield (or ‘cover’) on the other nipple or both nipples so it looks less obvious.
Foam Nipple Covers
If you have any unanswered questions about prosthesis then please email us
Hilary & Camille xx
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Pink Ribbon Lingerie was launched in 2010 by mother and daughter Hilary & Camille, selling post-mastectomy products in a wide range of colours and sizes from suppliers all around the world, giving you more choice with the aim to help women feel beautiful.