A breast prosthesis is an artificial breast form that is worn directly against your skin or that slips into a special pocket in your mastectomy bra or bathing suit.
If you choose not to have additional surgery, or need radiation you may prefer a prosthesis. A prosthesis has other advantages as well. For example, it is easily replaced if it wears out or is damaged, and its size is easy to change if your other breast changes.
Breast prostheses are made up of a variety of materials, including cotton, foam, and silicone.
When you’re recovering from surgery, or when the weather is hot, a lightweight cotton, foam-filled prosthesis is probably the most comfortable option. It is machine-washable and you can wear it while swimming. Get one or a pair for free from Knitted Knockers of Canada.
A silicone prosthesis is heavier than a cotton prosthesis. The weight can balance your shoulders and posture. Also, a silicone prosthesis can look more realistic and feel more natural. Avoid using a silicone prosthesis in salt water, pool water, or hot tubs, which can damage the silicone. This type of prosthesis is hand washable and lasts for two to five years.
For a pre-made silicone prosthesis, the average cost is about $400. For a custom-made prosthesis, the cost is more than $5000.
A mastectomy bra with pockets to hold the prosthesis is an added cost. You can buy a bra with pockets or have pockets sewn into a regular bra.
These costs are partially covered by many provincial health insurance programs. For the remaining cost, your private health insurance may pay; check with your insurer.
For women who cannot afford a breast prosthesis, some communities have “prostheses banks” that provide prostheses for little or no charge.
To find a boutique in your area, visit the Canadian Cancer Society website, enter your postal code, and click on prostheses.
A breast prosthesis is a good choice if you’re uncertain about reconstruction. After wearing the prosthesis for a month or two, you’ll be better able to decide which option is right for you.