Key questions

Below you can find some important questions and answers that will help you understand more about breast prosthesis and reconstruction.

Learn more about:

What is a breast prosthesis?

A breast prosthesis (plural: prostheses) is a synthetic breast or part of a breast that is worn in a bra or under clothing to replace all or part of your breast. The manufacturers usually call them breast forms.

Prostheses can be used after either the whole breast (mastectomy) or after part of the breast (breast-conserving surgery or lumpectomy) is removed.

Most breast prostheses have the weight, shape and feel of a natural breast. They are attached directly onto the skin with adhesive or inserted into specially-made pockets in bras, swimwear, activewear and sleepwear.

What is a breast reconstruction?

A breast reconstruction is an operation to make a new breast shape. Sometimes the reconstructed breast is called a breast mound. You may choose to have a breast reconstruction at the time of the mastectomy or later.

The aim of a breast reconstruction is to make a breast that looks as natural and similar to your other breast as possible, however, the reconstructed breast will not look or feel exactly the same. There are several options – see Types of breast reconstruction on the next page. Reconstructed breasts may not have a nipple, but one can be made surgically. Otherwise, stick-on nipples or nipple tattoos can be used.

Types of breast reconstruction

A new breast shape is created using an implant, or a flap of your own skin, muscle and fat from another part of your body.

Learn more about these two types of breast reconstruction:

Do I need to have a prosthesis or a reconstruction?

Deciding whether or not to wear a prosthesis or get a reconstruction after surgery is a personal decision. Reactions to the loss of a breast or breasts vary from woman to woman. Only you can choose what feels right.

You do not need to make a decision immediately. Unless you are considering having a reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy, there is no time limit on when you must decide. Take the time you need to consider your options.

There may be a number of reasons why women who have had a mastectomy choose to use a breast prosthesis or to have a reconstruction. However, some women decide not to use a prosthesis or have a reconstruction. For example, if you had breast-conserving surgery, you may feel that your breast shape didn’t change much.

Some reasons women choose to wear a breast prosthesis or have a reconstruction include:

Replacing the weight of the lost breast – When a breast is removed, the body is no longer balanced. This can cause a slight curving of the spine and a drop of the shoulder on the affected side. These changes may lead to lower back and neck pain over time. Issues with balance after having a mastectomy can affect women of any breast size. A prosthesis or reconstruction can help with balance.

Creating symmetry when wearing clothing – Most women don’t have identical breasts – the muscle and tissue on each side of the body is different. However, after a mastectomy, these differences are usually more noticeable. A prosthesis or reconstruction may help you feel and look more symmetrical.

Restoring self-esteem – You may find that recreating a more natural appearance with a prosthesis or reconstruction helps to boost your confidence – including sexual confidence – about the way your body looks after a mastectomy. For more information on this go to body image and sexuality issues.

Adjusting to the diagnosis and treatment – Using a prosthesis or having a reconstruction may help some women cope better with the experience of cancer. You might feel like you are taking control of your appearance.

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on Breast Prostheses and Reconstruction

Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit:


To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit:

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit:

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in June 2017
View who reviewed this content
View our editorial policy

Support services

Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum

Cancer Council Online Community
A community forum – a safe place to share stories, get tips and connect with people who understand

Cancer information

Learn more about chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells

What is cancer?
How cancer starts and spreads