Mastectomy

Questions

Answers

I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I am scheduled for a mastectomy. If I decide against breast reconstruction, what choices do I have for restoring my figure?

You should consider an external breast prosthesis.  For many women, a breast prosthesis is preferable to additional surgeries for reconstruction.  A breast prosthesis will bring balance to your body and restore your feminine figure and your self confidence. Breast prostheses are less expensive than surgeries, and can be easily changed if you gain or lose weight.

How soon after my mastectomy should I be fitted with a prosthesis?

Your doctor will tell you when you are ready to be fitted.  Your chest wall has to heal and the soreness decrease. For most women, this will be between four and eight weeks after surgery.

I have seen breast prosthesis in catalogs and online. Is this my best option?

To get the best fit, you should be fit personally by a certified mastectomy fitter.  A certified fitter is trained to measure you and fit you with the size and shape of breast prosthesis that will look most like your normal breast.  A fitter will provide personal education on caring for your mastectomy products. Plus, a certified fitter will file your insurance for you. At Home Health Products, we have two certified mastectomy fitters on staff, ready to assist you.

You mention insurance. I thought I had to buy a prosthesis out of pocket. Does insurance pay for a prosthesis?

Although specific coverage varies according to the type of insurance policy that you have, most health plans cover breast prosthesis and mastectomy bras for women who have had mastectomies.  Medicare, for example, will cover a new breast prosthesis for you every two years. Medicare will also purchase six mastectomy bras each year.

Why should I get an actual prosthesis? Can’t I just use extra padding in my bra? Aren’t the prostheses heavy?

A properly fitted breast prosthesis is important for your physical health, and not just for cosmetic or psychological purposes.  Most women don’t realize that their natural breast has significant weight to it.  When a natural breast is removed, the body is no longer in balance. Your body will compensate with slight curving of the spine and shoulder drop. Both conditions may lead to lower and neck pain. Some women have trouble with balance, and may be prone to falls because they are off balance. Because of these risks, it is important for a woman to wear a weighted breast prosthesis to equalize the weight on both sides of her body. You will get benefits from a breast prosthesis that you cannot get from extra padding.

I am very self-conscious. Will people that meet me be able to tell that I am wearing a breast prosthesis?

A fitter will match the size and shape of the prosthesis to match your natural breast.  The breast prosthesis is made of a silicone gel that drapes like a natural breast. The prosthesis warms up to your body temperature within a minute or two.  Once you are properly fit, the prosthesis will look extremely natural. No one will be able to tell that you have had a mastectomy.

How will I wear the prosthesis? Does it slip into my bra?

The breast prosthesis is worn in a mastectomy bra. The mastectomy bra has a pocket to hold the prosthesis in place. 

Does the mastectomy bra look “medical”? Do I have to give up my femininity?

You will be pleasantly surprised when you see a mastectomy bra for the first time. They are beautiful.  We carry a large selection of styles. Many have lace. Some are underwire. We offer various colors.  You may discover that mastectomy bras are more beautiful than a regular bra!

I have had a partial surgery or lumpectomy. Do I still need a weighted prosthesis?

You should still consider a breast prosthesis, as the weight and shape of your natural breast has been altered by your surgery.  We offer partial prostheses that fill in your breast to restore the natural shape and weight.

Now that I have a silicone prosthesis, how many hours a day should I wear it? Is there a limit to the wearing time?

We recommend that you wear your prosthesis most of the day, as your body needs the balanced weight. However, a silicone prosthesis is not appropriate for swimming, either in the lake or the pool. We offer alternative swimming prostheses for that purpose. Some women prefer a non-weighted prosthesis for exercise. Others purchase non-weighted prosthesis to wear to bed.

I have had a bilateral mastectomy. What do you suggest for me?

If you have had both breasts removed, you may choose either weighted or a non-weighted prostheses.  The non-weighted forms are made of foam, but have a core of weight in the center to prevent them from riding up.  You have more options, and you may even choose your cup size.

I have had a mastectomy and now I must have chemotherapy. I’m going to lose my hair. Do you have anything to help me?

Some women find that the hair loss associated with chemotherapy is more difficult emotionally than the loss of their breast.  We recommend that you prepare for this by first cutting your hair short. Then, have some alternate head coverings ready. We offer wigs. We also have turbans, hats, and scarves that are very stylish.  Some of the hats have a fringe of hair to make them look more natural.