- Cancer Information
- Managing side effects
- Breast prostheses and reconstruction
- Looking after yourself
- Body image
Any change in appearance after breast cancer surgery may affect your self-esteem and feelings of femininity. The loss of your breast or any other body part can make you grieve, like a type of bereavement.
Wearing a prosthesis or getting a reconstruction can help improve self-confidence, and it helps some women feel whole again. It will take time to adjust to the different way a reconstructed breast looks, feels or moves. The appearance of the breast will improve with time as scars heal and fade. Some women say it takes 3–12 months after reconstruction to feel better about their body image. Changing your clothing and using accessories might make you feel more confident when wearing a breast prosthesis.
Learn more about managing changes in:
- Wear clothes that make you feel good and get your hair or nails done.
- Focus on yourself as a whole person and not just the part of you that has changed.
- Draw attention to other parts of your body by using colours, clothing, make-up or accessories.
- Do activities that you enjoy or things that make you feel good about yourself, such as walking, listening to music, having a massage, relaxing outside or volunteering.
- Register for a free Look Good Feel Better workshop, which offers tips and techniques to help restore appearance and self-esteem for people during or after cancer treatment. Visit Look Good Feel Better or call 1800 650 960.
- If you are using a prosthesis, wear it in an attractive bra or camisole.
- Wear lingerie or a camisole, or drape a scarf or sarong over your scars, if you are self-conscious.
- Touch, hold, hug, massage and caress your partner to reassure each other of your love and attraction.
- Be open about what you are comfortable with. You might not be ready for your breast area to be touched, or you may want your partner to specifically touch this area.
- Dim or turn off the lights.
- See Sexuality, Intimacy and Cancer.
- Talk to your doctor, your breast care nurse or a counsellor about any ongoing problems.
A/Prof Elisabeth Elder, Specialist Breast Surgeon, Westmead Breast Cancer Institute and Clinical Associate Professor, University of Sydney, NSW; Jo Cockwill, Consumer;
Suzanne Elliott, Consumer; Bronwyn Flanagan, Breast Care Nurse, Brightways, Cabrini Hospital, VIC; Maina Gordon, Consumer; Gillian Horton, Owner and Corsetry Specialist, Colleen’s Post-Mastectomy Connection, ACT; Kerry Nash, Sales and Marketing Manager, Amoena Australia, NSW; A/Prof Kerry Sherman, Macquarie University and Westmead Breast Cancer Institute, NSW. We are grateful to Amoena Australia Pty Ltd for supplying the breast form images, which appear in this section. The breast reconstruction images have been reproduced with permission from Breast Cancer: Taking Control, breastcancertakingcontrol.com © Boycare Publishing 2010.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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