Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St, Mullingar. If you have any health questions e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Women who choose a mastectomy (complete removal of the breast) may decide on reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy, but many choose breast prosthesis. Breast prosthesis is an artificial breast which is worn after the mastectomy. It helps balance the body and allows a bra to fit naturally on the side of the mastectomy and prevents potential problems such as back and neck pain and shoulder sagging downwards which can lead to aches and pains. Prostheses are designed to be similar weight, texture and feel to natural breast tissue. Depending on the type of surgery and the preference of the woman, a prosthesis can adhere directly to the chest, while some fit into pockets of mastectomy bras that hold the prosthesis in place. The surface of the prostheses can have an artificial nipple or a specific shape depending on your shape prior to surgery and preferences.
Types of prosthetic devices
External silicone breast prosthesis. Composed of silicone and aims to be similar in texture and weight to natural breast tissue. It is designed to prevent problems such as shoulder drop and poor balance.
Non-silicone breast prosthesis. Made of light-weight foam or fiberfill meaning that it can be worn soon after a mastectomy. The light weight means it is convenient to be worn during exercise, swimming and in hotter weather.
Postsurgical soft-form camisole. Designed to be worn immediately after surgery and is often a temporary solution until a more permanent prosthesis is fitted. It is made of a soft and stretchy type material with lace elastic straps.
Self- supporting prosthesis. This is an attachable breast that adheres to the chest wall by using adhesive strips. This type of prosthesis suits some women better; especially women who are very active. Some women reckon these prostheses feel more natural and secure than types that simply fit into a bra cup. If this type of prosthesis is chosen, you still need to wear a bra that fits well and that gives you and the prosthesis good support.
Partial breast prosthesis. Also known as an equaliser or enhancer is designed to be worn over your own breast tissue to create a fuller and natural appearance after part of the breast has been removed (eg) lumpectomy. This type of prosthesis can be made of silicone, foam or fiberfill.
Fitting of a prosthesis
It can take between four to eight weeks for complete healing from surgery. Only after this time can you be fitted for a prosthesis. Specialist mastectomy fitters such as Cancer Support Sanctuary LARCC carry prostheses, post-mastectomy bras, swimsuits, and camisoles with specialist fitters trained to fit women for breast prostheses and bras. At the first fitting appointment, it is beast to wear a form-fitting top, such as a fitted T-shirt, so you can see how the shape and size of the breast form compares to your other breast and compares to what your shape was prior to surgery. You may also want to take a favourite bra or a low-fitting dress that you still hope to wear. You may like to bring your partner or friend along to the fitting to give you support and to offer their opinion. With professional fitting services and modern designs and material, prosthesis will not be noticeable. In Westmeath, Cancer Support Sanctuary LARCC provide a specialist prosthesis and bra fitting service in their base in Multyfarnham and have extended this service to Whelehan’s pharmacy in Mullingar who have a private fitting room. Call LARCC at 1890 719 719 for more information and to find out your entitlements.
For advice and information on breast prosthesis and bra fitting post breast surgery, contact Cancer Support Sanctuary LARCC at 1890 719 719