I have been learning a lot about breast prostheses recently. It's a sad fact that many women will at one time in their lives face the prospect of sacrificing one or both breasts.
Women who have not had to face this, fear it, for our breasts are so strongly linked to our femininity, our sense of identity as women, wives and mothers. Women who have had to face this, have often struggled to come to terms with this enormous loss on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.
As medical techniques advance, so too does the ability of surgeons, yet once a mastectomy has been performed and a woman is not able to have, or chooses not to have, reconstructive surgery, a prosthesis is generally obtained.
What follows here some thoughts on the prostheses available, it's only a very brief overview of some of the options that exist for women in this situation, and will hopefully provide useful information to friends and family also.
This is a photo of a fairly typical prosthesis:
Triangular in shape, this prosthetic would be about a B-cup. It's made of silicone and feels fairly heavy. Notice there is no aureola or nipple. It will fit nicely into a bra which has a pocket sewn into it.
Most prostheses cost around the C$400 mark and are often subsidised or provided in full depending on your healthcare plan. It's recommended to renew this every two years or so. It can be a very hot, uncomfortable thing to wear next to your skin on warm days, or if you are having a hot flash; and many women who have had radiation treatment and who have been left with extremely sensitive skin will find the sweating particularly bothersome.
It's not recommended to wear these kind of prostheses in hot tubs. I have heard one story where a woman wore her prosthesis in a hot tub and it burst open. Not pleasant for the woman concerned, nor for the person who had to clean the hot tub! This is a photo of the breast form that didn't burst but which clearly shows what the hot water did to it:
This is a picture of another type of prosthesis:
It has a more natural breast shape and has the aureola and nipple that was missing in the version above. It retails for around $150 but is not subsidised. Why? Because it's made for men. That's right, it's not a medical prosthesis, but a silicone breast made for the cross-dressing or the trans-gender community. You can peruse a whole range of these breast forms at TheBreastFormStore.com. Many women buy these prosthesis because they prefer the look of the product, yet the same issues exist. It too will fit nicely into a bra with a pocket sewn into it.
What many women don't know, is that many custom bra-makers can also make a prosthesis for you. When you have a custom bra made, it will fit the contours of your breast, which means that a prosthetic designed to perfectly fit the other cup can also be made. This foam prosthetic is weighted to the approximate weight of your remaining breast which is especially helpful for women who find that commercially available prostheses are not similar in weight to their remaining breast. These can also be made for women who have had a radical mastectomy and can be used in hot tubs.
Ultimately, if you find yourself faced with the prospect of wearing a breast prosthesis, I hope that you will find the courage and the time to evaluate the options available to you in way more depth than what is provided here. At a time when your whole world seems to have been turned upside down, you may not feel like scouring the net looking for what's available, but please do know that you have options and that there are people who are willing to help you find something that works for you.