Choosing between having breast reconstruction or using a breast prosthesis after a mastectomy can be one of the most difficult decisions a woman has to make. Educating herself on both options will help the decision making process much easier.
According to the American Cancer Society annual study, the estimated number of new female breast cancer cases in 2013 would be 296,980. Of those 296,980 female cases, they calculate that 4% would be women age 40 and under, 37% of women 50-64 and 41% of women 65 and over. Another study, “After Mastectomy, More Women Choosing Breast Reconstruction” gave percentages of women who actually chose reconstructive surgery after mastectomy and segmented them by age groups. Based on their research, 48% of women 50 and older and 34% of women 60 and older chose some form of breast reconstruction after their surgery. That means that 52% of women aged 50 and older and 66% of women aged 60 and older chose NOT to have reconstruction (the overall average for all ages is less that 35%). For the majority of women, a breast prosthesis is the primary option.
Today’s state-of-the-art breast prostheses recreate the natural appearance, feel and weight of the female breast. Breast prostheses are designed to replace missing breast tissue following a mastectomy, partial mastectomy or lumpectomy. There are several styles and types of breast forms on the market today designed to fit a variety of body shapes and breast surgeries. The most popular type of weighted breast prosthesis is made with silicone gel. Silicone forms are preferred because they most closely replicate the texture, movement and feel of the natural breast. Silicone prostheses are available in various weights as well as a variety of shapes and sizes to help mimic the remaining natural breast. Specialty breast forms such as swim forms or custom forms are available to fit an individual’s specific needs. Foam forms, which have little or no weight, are also available for right after surgery and but can also be worn while sleeping or relaxing.
It is very important to be fitted with the correct size mastectomy bra as well as the correct size, shape and weight of breast form so as to restore the body’s natural balance, alignment and symmetry. If a woman is fit properly it will help in preventing the development of spinal curvature, neck pain, back pain and shoulder drop. A Certified Mastectomy Fitter can determine the best prosthesis and bra for a woman’s individual needs to help reduce these potential physical complications.
A Certified Mastectomy Fitter is a trained professional who is certified to fit women with the right breast prosthesis and bra after breast surgery. As a trained medical professional, she handles all aspects of a fitting that includes maintaining patient records, evaluating prostheses and bras for each individual patient to ensure a proper fit. A Certified Mastectomy Fitter can also inform patients regarding insurance and prescription requirements for insurance purposes.
It is wonderful that today’s women have a variety of options after breast surgery. Your physician may discuss reconstruction or implants, but for some women an external prosthesis is preferable to additional surgeries. Depending on your age, physical condition and breast size, an external prosthesis may be the best solution to help balance the body. External breast forms are far less expensive than additional surgeries and a form can be easily changed if you gain or lose weight. There are now hundreds of sizes and styles from which to choose that fit all body and skin types and thousands of dealers nationwide to help in the fitting process.
Karen Wilson, Certified Mastectomy Fitter, Nearly Me Technologies, LLC
Nearly Me Technologies, manufacturers of NEARLY ME® mastectomy products, focuses on the women’s health care market by offering superior U.S.A. made products for “mastectomees” around the world.
American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Facts & Figures publication 2013-2014. Estimated New Female Breast Cancer Cases and Deaths by Age, US, 2013.
After Mastectomy, More Women Choosing Breast Reconstruction by Robin Warshaw, Review by Steve R. Martinez, MD, MAS, FACS March 26, 2014