Statistics say that one in eight women in a lifetime is diagnosed with breast cancer. Every three minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and every 11 minutes a woman dies. We as health care professionals need to be as knowledgeable as possible about this dreaded disease so that we might better serve our customers, friends, and families.
We at Advanced Care Medical Equipment carry breast forms and bras. We have a certified fitter on site, available to fit you with a proper form and bra to better satisfy your needs. We offer many fashionable bra styles and several types of prosthesis and useful accessories which accommodate all types of surgery, from the simple to the most radical. The bras and properly weighted breast forms restore comfort and body balance while providing a natural body contour.
One may ask why is it necessary to wear prosthesis.
When a woman loses a breast, she loses an appendage that hangs off the body. The body is the center of gravity and losing a breast, which is outside the center of gravity, causes an imbalance to the body. There is a downward and inward tilt of the shoulder after losing a breast, and if a woman goes too long without compensating for the lost breast, one shoulder blade in the back can become higher than the other. When both breasts are removed, the down and inward tilt of both shoulders can cause the woman to carry herself in a manner that creates concaveness to the chest wall.
A woman most often carries herself quite differently when she is not wearing prosthesis. She will usually favor the remaining breast side or most assuredly to the missing breast side. Wearing prosthesis restores a woman's balance, and she will then hold her shoulders back, taking the unbalanced pressure off the shoulders and back.
The bilateral mastectomy patient is the easiest to fit. We are balanced side-to-side and back-to-back. It doesn't matter the weight the bilateral person wears as long as it is balanced weight.
Because of the lack of education among prosthesis wearers, there is the thought that breast forms are too heavy. This causes some women to look for and wear prosthesis that are too light and do not restore the necessary balance needed for good health. When fitting a prosthesis, I explain to the wearer that the farther something is from the body, which is the center of gravity, the heavier it is. Therefore, holding a prosthesis in the hand, which is 10" to 12" from the body, makes it much heavier than it is when it is worn properly, close to the body, balancing the weight of the natural breast. There should never be any feeling of weight when wearing the prosthesis. Fitting the correct prosthesis will be determined by the individual's needs.
There are different types and shapes of prosthesis. Most, however, are made of silicone, which is sand that has been heated to a higher temperature and oil that has been added to make it soft. It is very much like the natural breast and takes on the temperature of the body. It is not affected by chlorine or salt water.
There are four main breast forms:
The shape of your prosthesis will be determined in your fitting.
There is also another kind of prosthesis, which is the foam breast form. This is for those who simply cannot wear the silicone forms. They are very inexpensive for those who may not have any type of insurance, and cannot afford the silicone form. These foam prosthesis can be and are fitted just the same as a silicone form.
The form is not the only important part for a woman who wears prosthesis. A prosthesis is only as effective as the bra that carries it. Wearing the right bra, properly fitted, will help the woman feel comfortable, healthy and feminine. A bra should have a pocket in it to hold the prosthesis in place, so when a women bends over it doesn't fall out. It also allows air to circulate between the prosthesis and chest wall. The pocket should totally cover the prosthesis, so there will be no possible irritation from the prosthesis. A bra should have a good separation at the breastbone so the bra can touch the breastbone easily. The bra should always be centered. There should be an ample, soft stretch, non-cutting bottom band for when a breast is missing there is no anchor to hold the bra in place. The bottom band should be worn snuggly around the body. This keeps the bra from riding up when the arms are raised. The straps should be made to rest close to the neck. It is important that the straps not grab the tilted shoulder for the wearer will fill the weight of her breast form. Adjust straps to hold the breast form close to the body.
Bras can have desired features for healthy, comfortable wearing yet is beautiful and feminine, for enhancing the woman's self-esteem.
Our main goal for fitting these women is to reassure them that they do look and feel good and natural about themselves once the fitting is done.
Q: What types of breast forms are on the market?
A: There are two basic types: weighted (having weight to them) and non-weighted.
Q: Which type will I wear first?
A: You should be fitted with an immediate post-surgery camisole such as the Carrier for the first 4-6 weeks. When your doctor determines that you are ready for a weighted silicone form, he/she will write you a prescription for your breast prosthesis and mastectomy bras.
Q: If I am very small breasted and have had a partial surgery such as a lumpectomy, do I still need a weighted breast prosthesis?
A: Yes. Even if you are small breasted, you should replace the weight. You will also need the weight to help hold your bra in place around the rib cage. A light non-weighted form adds shaping in a bra but may slip up during certain movements.
Q: Will people be able to tell if I have a breast form on?
A: No!!! With a proper fit, no one will be able to tell you are wearing prosthesis or breast form. Silicone prosthesis has the weight, feel and form of your remaining breast.
Q: Will wearing a breast form restrict my activities in any way?
A: Wearing a breast form should not restrict your activities. There are lightweight/swim forms available for exercise and water activities, if you find the silicone breast form unsuitable or too heavy.
Q: Can I wear a silicone breast form while swimming?
A: Silicone breast forms will normally not be damaged by chlorine or salt water and can be worn in the swimming pool, ocean or Jacuzzi. After use, the silicone breast form should be cleaned and dried gently. There are specially designed swim forms now available. These are covered by most insurance plans.
Q: How do I care for my breast form and how long will it last?
A: Treated carefully, a breast form is very durable. Care should be taken with sharp objects to prevent the outer film of the breast form from being punctured or damaged. A breast form should be cleaned with warm water and mild soap and dried gently after use. When not in use, the breast form should be stored in its cradle to maintain the shape of the form and prevent accidental damage. Most manufactures guarantee their forms for two years.
Q: Can a breast form be worn with a regular fashion bra (a bra without a pocket)?
A: Yes, but fashion bras have not been designed to meet the specific needs of most mastectomies. It is important to be measured and fit by a professional fitter. Mastectomy bras have been designed to hold the weighted form in place.
Q: Why should I go to a professional fitter?
A: Because every woman is different. There are hundreds of sizes, styles and shapes that have been created to match a woman's remaining natural breast. A certified professional fitter is trained to measure and select the proper prosthesis for each individual woman.
Q: Does my insurance pay for any of my post mastectomy needs?
A: Yes. Medicare and most other insurances pay for one breast prosthesis every two years and six bras a year. You should check with your carrier to see how much is covered.
Feel free to contact us here at Advanced Care Medical Equipment for any further information.
If you have additional questions or need other assistance, please contact us at one of our four locations and our friendly staff members will be glad to assist you.
E-mail Us or Call (580)924-2626 (Corporate Office) or (800)206-9008 (Toll Free)
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