A common misconception is that breast prostheses are only for women who have had a mastectomy, but did you know that if you’ve had a lumpectomy (or breast conserving surgery), you’re also entitled to a lumpectomy prosthesis (sometimes knows as a partial breast form/shaper) to balance different sized breasts?
As a specialist post-surgery and mastectomy lingerie fitter, and through my work with Breast Cancer Now and its Moving Forward Programme, the one issue that crops up time and again is that so many women are not informed and are unaware about partial breast forms. With lumpectomies being performed more often now than mastectomies, it’s important to know what you’re entitled to and what choices are available to you. When this topic comes up in my sessions, it immediately piques women’s interests and the majority of the time, most of the women have not been given any information about their entitlement to partial breast forms or that they even exist and this is something that needs to change.
Partial breast forms and shapers can be particularly helpful after a lumpectomy, radiotherapy or reconstructive surgery and most importantly can help restore some balance to help you feel more confident and comfortable. Wearing a breast form of any kind is a very personal decision and it’s not for everyone – there is absolutely no requirement to wear one but if you do choose to, knowing what’s available to you is the only way to make an informed choice that’s best for YOU.
Partial Prosthesis after a Lumpectomy
If you’ve had a lumpectomy, it’s possible that you’ve experienced some form of asymmetry after surgery. Perhaps the difference has only become visible once swelling has subsided or it may be the case that the difference is so small that it doesn’t cause you any issues. However, if you find that there is a visible difference and you’re experiencing issues with how your bra or clothes fit, then a partial breast form may be the solution in helping to restore some balance.
Partial breast forms come in different shapes, sizes and volumes to be able to accommodate many different asymmetries and can help you go about your daily life with confidence and ease.
Restoring Balance after Radiotherapy
Women are commonly given radiotherapy after a lumpectomy or breast conserving surgery, and often the breast can remain swollen and tender for an extended period. One of the longer term side effects of radiation therapy is that it can cause the breast to shrink but often, it isn’t until at least several months, or sometimes a year or more, after treatment has ended that this becomes visible. A shell, which is a hollow silicone prosthesis, can be worn over the breast to replace missing volume and balance any asymmetry.
In some cases, depending on the difference in size, some styles of moulded bras like the Royce Maisie Bra or Anita Tonya Bra may be enough to help regain some symmetry without the need for a breast form. When dealing with one breast larger than the other, it’s important that the bra is fitted to the larger side and assessing from there to see if a breast form is needed.
Balancing Asymmetry after Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction after a mastectomy can often leave women with different sized and uneven breasts. For some women it may be some time, perhaps years, after reconstruction that they experience some asymmetry and size difference due to weight loss or gain and natural changes in their body. In this instance, a hollow silicone ‘shell’ prosthesis can be worn over the breast to replace missing volume and restore balance.
Am I entitled to a lumpectomy prosthesis?
Yes. If you had your surgery through the NHS, you are entitled to a free breast form should you wish to wear one, and a replacement and refit every 2 years. However, our bodies can obviously change and if you find that the breast form you have is no longer a good fit for your body, you can request to be refitted for a new one before the two years is up.
Entitlement can vary between hospitals and local NHS trusts so it’s important to check with your breast care nurse exactly what you’re entitled to.
TIME FOR A FITTING?
Are you due to be fitted for a new breast prosthesis soon? I always strongly recommend going for a bra fitting BEFORE a prosthesis fitting appointment to ensure you are wearing a well-fitting bra and the right style – this will make it easier for the fitter to find a prosthesis that is the right fit, size and shape for you.
Personal bra fitting appointments can be made through my online diary below. Telephone consultations will take place prior to all fitting appointments so I can find out a little more information.
If there is a time that isn’t suitable, please contact me on [email protected] or 07754253902 and I’ll be happy to find another time that works for you.