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There are so many inspirational stories of women we all know — family members, friends and neighbors — who have dealt successfully with post-mastectomy recovery. As you explore various options during your own recovery, certified specialists in mastectomy fitting, anaplastology and personalized patient care at Westcoast Brace & Limb will work with you. We’ll help you design a customized plan to shape your very own success story.
After a mastectomy, many women can be uncomfortable with the changes in their physical appearance. These changes can be permanent or they may be temporary if you are scheduled for reconstructive surgery. There are many options available to support your body in its recovery and in regaining its natural balance and symmetrical appearance. Each of these options requires a prescription from your doctor.
Breast Prosthetic Basics
A breast prosthesis, or breast form, is an artificial breast used after one’s own breast has been altered or removed, usually through surgery. A breast form can then be worn to simulate a natural breast and one’s body shape.
Post-mastectomy and lumpectomy prostheses are available in a wide selection of shapes, sizes and colors. Typically, the recommended prosthesis will be determined by the amount of breast tissue that has been removed. Westcoast’s breast prostheses are designed to look natural, feminine and to ensure comfort.
Equalizers (full and partial breasts) enhance or balance a woman’s appearance. Breast prostheses are created using a variety of materials (silicone, air-filled, foam or fiberfill) that can be worn against the skin, attach to the body with a sticky backing or simply worn inside a regular or specialty mastectomy bra.
Working with an experienced professional fitter is important. Every woman is different and our professionals will guide you in selecting the most appropriate option for your needs. There are dozens of sizes, shapes and styles of breast prostheses available to match your remaining natural breast or previous size.
Choosing a Breast Prosthesis
External silicone breast prosthesis
An external silicone breast prosthesis is a weighted form made of silicone and designed to simulate natural breast tissue. Because of its weight, it also may help your posture, prevent shoulder drop and offset any problems with balance.
Non-silicone breast prosthesis
A non-silicone breast prosthesis is lightweight and made of foam or fiberfill. Non-silicone breast prostheses can be worn without concern during heavy exercise, while swimming and in hot weather.
Post-surgical soft breast form and camisole
This is a lightweight, removable breast form that fits into a soft garment that can be pulled up over the hips if raising your arms is restricted or painful. These are most often worn immediately following a mastectomy, lumpectomy, radiation therapy or reconstructive breast surgery.
Partial breast prosthesis
Also called a shaper or shell, this is a breast form made of foam, fiberfill or silicone and is meant to be worn over your remaining breast tissue to compensate for tissue loss. These can be worn with either a regular or a post-mastectomy bra.
Custom breast prostheses: Available Only at Westcoast for Patients in the Tampa Bay Area
A custom breast prosthesis may be an option for you prior to, or as an alternative to, reconstructive surgery. Westcoast is one of only a handful of organizations nationwide offering women the opportunity to work personally with a Clinical Anaplastologist who will create and fit your custom breast prosthesis/es right in our offices, ensuring optimal appearance and comfort.
Custom sculpted using thin layers of medical-grade silicone, a custom breast prosthesis presents a realistic appearance and feel. It captures your unique anatomical features and is fitted to accommodate your remaining chest wall, your scarring from surgery and any skin sensitivity.
Each custom breast prosthesis is painted by hand to match the characteristics of your own skin — including freckles, skin tone and even subtle variances in skin texture.
Unlike standard breast forms that are weighted silicone, a custom prosthesis is air-filled and extremely lightweight. The back of a custom prosthesis is a naturally ‘tacky’ surface that does not require the use of adhesives, powders or creams. It is supported by a regular bra and easy to apply and remove.
Our Case Manager will gladly investigate your insurance coverage on your behalf.
The Custom Breast Making Process
Silicone impression material is used to capture every detail of the chest.
The impression is cast in plaster, onto which a clay prototype is sculpted.
Once refined, the prototype is molded and cast in silicone, and custom painted in front of the patient.
Mastectomy Camisoles, Lymphedema Sleeves and Bras
A soft, mastectomy camisole made of stretch fabric with pockets on the inside of the garment (for drainage pouches and ultimately breast forms) is what most women choose to wear immediately following surgery, whether you’ve had a lumpectomy, mastectomy, reconstruction or other breast-conserving procedures. Westcoast has many attractive camisole options from which to choose during a pre-surgery consultation.
After surgery involving lymph nodes, some women may experience a condition known as lymphedema, or a swelling of one or both arms. Westcoast offers a range of compression garment styles including elastic two-way stretch sleeves worn under clothing during the day and padded, custom-fitted garments with stitching to guide the flow of lymph. Other styles have features that soften fibrotic tissues and all are available in stock sizes or can be custom-ordered.
When you are ready, our Certified Mastectomy Fitters will work with you to determine which mastectomy bras offer the best fit for your needs. Mastectomy bras are available in many different sizes, styles and colors and are designed with pockets on the inside to hold breast forms in place. Although with some breast prostheses you can wear a regular bra, they have not been designed to meet the specific needs of most prosthetic wearers.
Treated carefully, most breast prostheses are very durable. They should be cleaned with warm water and mild soap and gently air dried. When not in use, storing them in their cradle helps maintain their shape and prevents accidental damage. Most manufacturers guarantee standard breast forms for one year, and the fit of a breast prosthesis should be checked annually.
For a personal consultation with one of our Certified Mastectomy Fitters and for mastectomy supplies prescribed by your physician, please call any of our five office locations for an appointment: