- Cancer Information
- Managing side effects
- Breast prostheses and reconstruction
- Breast prostheses
- Buying a breast prosthesis
Buying a breast prosthesis
It is recommended that you see a trained fitter who can help you choose the right prosthesis, as well as a pocketed bra if necessary.
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For some women, having a fitting for a prosthesis can be an emotional or distressing experience, especially the first time. You may be embarrassed at the thought of having someone else see the site of the surgery or feel upset about needing a breast prosthesis. Professional fitters regularly see women who have had similar surgery and will take a sensitive approach.
You can visit a store to buy your prosthesis, or you may feel more comfortable organising a home fitting (see where to buy a breast prosthesis). It’s advisable to make an appointment with a fitter. This allows you to have uninterrupted time with them. When you go to the fitting, you might like to take a friend with you for support. The other person doesn’t have to come into the dressing room with you.
You may also find it helpful to see some breast prostheses before your appointment (or even before your operation), to give you an idea of what to expect. Ask your breast care nurse to show you samples of breast prostheses and bras.
You may also find it useful to talk to a woman who is using a breast prosthesis – call Cancer Council 13 11 20 to arrange to speak to a Cancer Connect volunteer.
It’s like buying anything valuable. You need to take your time and make sure it’s right.Mary-Anne
You can buy a breast prosthesis from a variety of retail outlets, including specialist stores that sell only breast prostheses and related products, the lingerie section of some major department stores and some lingerie boutiques. There may also be a free home service available in your area. Learn more about the cost of breast prostheses.
If you live in a rural area, you might have fewer options for what you can buy and where you can shop. Making a trip to a shop in a large town or city may be worthwhile. This might also appeal if you don’t want to shop where people know you.
You can also browse stores online or ask retailers to send catalogues so you can look at the full range of bras and breast prostheses available. If you see something you like, you may be able to order it, or a fitter can order it in for you. However, it is a good idea to be measured in person by a fitter, particularly if you are buying a breast prosthesis for the first time.
Ask the store about its returns policy. You may be able to exchange the breast prosthesis for a different style or size if the one you buy feels uncomfortable. This is not always possible, particularly for attachable breast prostheses.
You can use Breast Cancer Network Australia’s local service directory to find a specialist prosthesis fitter in your area. Cancer Council 13 11 20 may also be able to help you find out more about buying breast prostheses and related products.
A fitting usually takes 40–60 minutes. You will have privacy when being measured and getting changed. You might like to ask your breast care nurse or a breast prosthesis fitter some of these questions.
Most fitters carry out the fitting in a similar way:
- The fitter will probably check your bra size with a tape measure.
- The fitter will ask you about what type of bras you like and how active you are.
- Take the bras you wore before surgery to the fitter. The fitter will check whether these bras are suitable to use with a prosthesis.
- If you’ve had a double mastectomy, the fitter will ask you what breast size you were and what size you would like to be. You might like to keep your original size or go up or down a size.
- The fitter brings you a selection of pocketed bras to choose from.
- When you’ve chosen your bra, the fitter will help you try on several different types of breast prostheses until you find a good fit.
- The fitter often has a slip-on T-shirt (like a smock) for you to try over the bra and prosthesis to check that the prosthesis is the right size and looks symmetrical under clothing.
- The fitter shows you how to check the breast prosthesis sits properly in the pocketed bra and will discuss how to take care of it.
Wearing a well-fitting bra will ensure your breast prosthesis is comfortable and sits well. While you may find that your ordinary bra, sports bra or sports crop top adequately supports your prosthesis, pocketed bras are specially designed for this purpose.
Features of a pocketed bra include:
Getting the right fit
The key to a well-fitting breast prosthesis is getting it to match your natural breast in shape and size as closely as possible. With a correctly fitting bra, it is unlikely that a prosthesis will be noticeable to others or fall out.
You can bring your own bras (the ones you wore before surgery, or your post-surgical or pocketed bras) to the fitting or your fitter can suggest a bra from their stock. Getting the right fit will help give you a natural shape under your clothes. Many women say this makes them feel whole again.
Aim for a fit that looks natural and feels comfortable. The various styles and materials used in making prostheses may feel quite different on your skin or in the bra. The fitter will also check that the breast prothesis fits correctly. A breast prosthesis that fits well will not block the flow of lymph fluid in your body nor cause swelling in the arm (lymphoedema).
Most women find they get used to wearing the breast prosthesis, although this may take some time. If you find the breast prosthesis continues to feel uncomfortable or looks obvious, the fit is probably not right. Ask the fitter if you can be refitted. These questions may help you decide if the fit is right.
The external appearance of my breast form is great. People often say that you’d never know I was wearing a breast form.Ruth
A/Prof Elisabeth Elder, Specialist Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon, Westmead Breast Cancer Institute and Clinical Associate Professor, The University of Sydney, NSW; Dragana Ceprnja, Senior Physiotherapist and Health Professional Educator, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Jan Davies, Consumer; Rosemerry Hodgkin, Consumer; Gillian Horton, Owner and Director, Colleen’s Lingerie and Swimwear, ACT; Ashleigh Mondolo, Clinical Nurse Consultant Breast Care Nurse, Mater Private Hospital South Brisbane, QLD; Dr Jane O’Brien, Specialist Oncoplastic Breast Cancer Surgeon, St Vincent’s Private Hospital, VIC; Moira Waters, Breast Care Nurse, Breast Cancer Care WA; Sharon Woolridge, Consumer; Rebecca Yeoh, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland.
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