Commonly Asked Questions about Breast Prostheses and Mastectomy Bras

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Breast cancer has been prevalent in today’s time and age. For a lot of women who have experienced and battled breast cancer, the removal of one or both breasts – medically known as mastectomy – has been a compulsory aspect of treatment. Breast reconstruction is an available option to some women although a lot may still prefer the use of breast prosthetics as a replacement for the missing breast/s.

When a woman chooses to use prosthetics, mastectomy bras – are specialized lingerie designed to provide comfort and recreate the natural appearance of natural breasts from the outside.

How Mastectomy Bras Utilize Breast Prosthesis

Used to emulate the natural embodiment of the breast, breast prostheses are considered artificial breast forms. Months after the surgery they are inserted into mastectomy bras. A woman post-surgery can avail of either a full or partial breast prosthesis depending on the kind of surgery she underwent – whether mastectomy or lumpectomy. The breast prosthesis inserted into mastectomy bras balance the appearance of the breasts after surgery. The breast prosthesis used and inserted into mastectomy bras is made from several materials like silicone, foam, or fiberfill. Breast prostheses are either worn inside mastectomy bras or are directly attached to the body using unique adhesives. 

What Mastectomy Bras Are

Mastectomy bras are bras that are specially designed to hold the weight of breast prostheses. Mastectomy bras come in different colors, textures, and styles. They can be fitted at the same time as breast prostheses. They can also be made by professional bra fitters and manufacturers. Most lingerie companies and high-street shops or department stores have mastectomy bras options.

How Soon Breast Prosthesis and Mastectomy Bras Can Be Fitted

Breast prostheses and mastectomy bras can commonly be fitted at around 6 to 8 weeks after breast surgery. Permission from the patient’s attending physician is an essential prerequisite for moving forward with breast prosthesis and mastectomy bra fitting.

Insurance and Medicare Coverage for Purchase of Breast Prostheses and Mastectomy Bras

Depending on the insurance company of the patient, costs for the breast prostheses and mastectomy bras may be covered. Coverage of these articles for Medicare is only on a medical necessity basis. For patients to avail of such, they will have to secure proper prescriptions from their attending physicians which indicate their diagnoses and the particular need for either a right, a left, or both breast prosthesis. The same is true for insurance claims for mastectomy bras.

Other Available Mastectomy Clothing Apart from Mastectomy Bras

Some manufacturers of mastectomy bras also have clothing especially done for patients who have gone through breast surgeries or are using breast prostheses. It is not uncommon to find clothing articles that have built-in mastectomy bras features and offer additional support and room for breast prostheses as well. Examples of these mastectomy clothing are tank tops, swimsuits, t-shirts, and even sleeveless dresses.

Mastectomy clothing like lingerie and swimsuits have pockets provided to insert the breast prosthesis just like in mastectomy bras. Mastectomy swimsuits should provide extra support for the breast prosthesis and they tend to rise higher in the back allowing women to also wear mastectomy bras with it. Some manufacturers offer specialized water-friendly prosthetic swimming articles and apparel that dry faster and have breathable fabrics at the same time.

Commonly-Asked Questions about Mastectomy Bras

Here are the most common questions asked by women about mastectomy bras after breast surgeries:

  • When should patients wear mastectomy bras after surgery?

Women who have undergone breast surgeries need not wear specific mastectomy bras after a breast surgery like mastectomy or lumpectomy. This holds unless a patient is advised by her attending physician or her breast care nurse. Financial assistance may be availed to be able to pay for the prescribed mastectomy bras when warranted.

During the first few weeks after surgery, most women may still feel sensitive around their chest area. Wearing mastectomy bras that are the right fit and are not restrictive is highly advisable. Patients may also prefer to use front-fastening mastectomy bras due to their convenience in putting on. The kind of mastectomy bras that patients need will ultimately change after the first-year post-surgery.

  • Are temporary breast prostheses prescribed post-surgery?

When a patient has gone through mastectomy or lumpectomy without direct reconstruction of the breast/s, the breast care nurse may provide fabric-covered breast prostheses that will serve the temporary purpose of a long-standing breast prosthesis. The issue with temporary breast prostheses though is that it usually rides up the chest because of their lightweight characteristic.

Upon the full healing of the surgical scar including the subsiding of the swelling, which is around 6 to 8 weeks post-surgery, a permanent silicone (or similar material) prosthesis can be fitted together with the mastectomy bras if the patient desires so.

  • What mastectomy bras features should be looked into in the first year following surgery? What about beyond a year after surgery?

Within the first year after major breast surgery, it is best to wear mastectomy bras made from soft materials, with a wide under-band, non-underwire, and with minimal design or detailing. It is also advised that mastectomy bras during this time have full, separate cups, with deep front and side panels, and fully adjustable and comfortable straps.

It may take a full year for breast surgery areas to completely heal including the repair of nerves and skin changes. The kind of mastectomy bras women need may inherently change as well due to weight and other treatment-related issues.

  • How can one find the right size of mastectomy bras after surgery?

Almost all specialist lingerie manufacturers and some high-street department store shops have experienced professional bra fitters. They have tools to help them measure women’s bra sizes and mastectomy bras are not an exception. Having mastectomy bras accurately fitted before a purchase can be a real deal breaker as the breast shape and size can change immensely during and post-treatment.

Professional bra fitters also have the training and experience to help women who have gone through major breast surgeries. Sometimes making an appointment or calling ahead of time guarantees an appointment with one.

  • What is a mastectomy bra pocket?

The mastectomy bra pockets are fabric pockets sewn in the inner lining of the cup of mastectomy bras. They are designed to keep the breast prostheses in place.

When a breast prosthesis is preferred, well-fitting mastectomy bras with full cups are often all that is required to hold the breast prostheses in place. Using breast prostheses with mastectomy bras has been found to give off a more natural appearance and offer security enough. 

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