Questions and Answers
Concerning External Breast Forms
Dealing with the emotional and physical aftermath of breast surgery,
whether major or minor, can be overwhelming for many women. Before the surgery, your
femininity and self confidence were oftentimes expressed by how you looked and felt each
day. Now you have so many questions about your self mage that you many wonder what
do you do next. There are several options for you, one being an external breast
Why should I choose an
external breast prosthesis?
It is wonderful that today women have options after breast surgery. Your physician
may discuss reconstruction or implants, but for some women an external prosthesis is
preferable to additional surgeries. Depending on your age, physical condition and
breast size, an external prosthesis may be the best solution to help balance the body.
External breast forms are far less expensive than additional surgeries and a form
can be easily changed if you gain or lose weight. There are now hundreds of sizes
and styles from which to choose that fit all body and skin types and thousands of dealers
nationwide to help in the fitting process.
How soon after surgery
should I be fitted with a permanent external prosthesis?
Your doctor will tell you when you are ready to be fitted. This may be from
four to six or eight weeks after surgery. The chest wall has to heal and the
What types of prostheses
are on the market?
There are two basic types, weighted (having weight to them) and non-weighted.
Which type will I
It depends on the woman. You may wish to wear a lightweight foam form to fill
out a leisure or after surgery bra until you are fitted with a permanent weighted
Why do I need a weighted
breast prosthesis (form) after breast surgery?
A properly fitted breast prosthesis helps replace the weight lost after breast
surgery. This replacement is not merely for cosmetic or psychological reasons but
for physical reasons as well. When a natural breast is removed the body is no longer
in balance and will compensate with slight curving of the spine and “shoulder
drop”. Both conditions may lead to chronic lower back and neck pain.
If I am very small
breasted or had partial surgery such as a lumpectomy, do I still need a weighted breast
Yes. Even if you are small breasted you should replace the weight. You
will also need the weight to help hold your bra in place around the rib cage. A
light non-weighted form adds shaping in a bra but may slip up during certain movements.
Of what are most
The majority of weighted breast prostheses are made of silicone gel.
Is this the same
material as found in former breast implants?
Similar but not the same since external breast prostheses are “cured” in
a manufacturing process and are not in a liquid state.
Are there different
styles of breast prostheses?
Yes, symmetrical (can be turned to fit either side of the body) and asymmetrical
(fits only the right or left side).
Which style is better?
Each style fits a specific need and figure type. Your certified fitter helps
Where can I be fitted
for a permanent prosthesis?
Breast forms and mastectomy bras (special pocketed bras to help hold the form in
place) are sold at medical supply stores, pharmacies, department stores, wig shops,
specialty lingerie shops, through private home fitters and catalogs. Look in the
yellow pages, ask at the local American Cancer Society, hospital or physician’s office for
stores within your specific area.
What type of bra can be
worn with an external prosthesis?
There are bras called mastectomy or surgical bras. These bras are designed
with cup pockets to hold the breast form in place and are cut wider under the arm and
across the chest. After a mastectomy it is important to be measured and fit by a
professional breast prosthesis fitter. Fashion bras have not been designed to meet
your specific needs.
Why should I go to a
Because every woman is different. There are hundreds of sizes, styles and
shapes that have been created to match a women’s remaining natural breast and a certified
professional fitter is trained to measure and select the proper prosthesis for each
Are prostheses covered
by Medicare and Medicaid?
Yes, but allowables are different by state, check with the local social security
Why are prostheses so
Prostheses are not mass produced. Each one is made by hand and follow several
steps and procedures. Prostheses are also considered medical devices and are
regulated by the FDA. Manufacturers carefully monitor the
manufacturing and sale of these types of products through on site quality assurance and warranty card information.