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For women who have undergone full or partial removal of breasts with a mastectomy, a variety of prosthetic breast options are available to restore the body's natural posture and balance. Mastectomy prosthetics can be made of silicone, foam, or fiberfill. Some are designed to fit within a special pocket in a mastectomy bra, while others are self-adhesive and can be adhered directly to the chest wall. For women with only partial loss of a breast, a prosthesis known as a shell, shaper, or equalizer can be used over the remaining breast tissue to enhance its shape or fullness. Many types of mastectomy prosthetics, including the weighted silicone breast forms, must be prescribed by a physician and custom fitted to suit a particular individual.
A prosthesis is a removable device intended to restore a missing body part, whether for cosmetic or functional reasons. Women who choose not to undergo surgical breast reconstruction often use mastectomy prosthetics. A breast prosthesis is used to restore symmetry to a woman's body so that she will appear the same in her clothing as she did before removal of a breast through mastectomy surgery. For the first four to six weeks after surgery, the patient is provided with a post-surgical camisole with a removable soft breast form to protect the surgical area. After about six weeks with a physician's referral, the woman can be custom fitted for the prosthetic of her choice.
Some prosthetics are designed to be used within a mastectomy bra. This specially fitted bra contains spandex pockets to hold a prosthetic breast made of foam, fiberfill, or silicone. Some silicone mastectomy prosthetics are self-adhesive, adhering directly to the chest wall so that they can be used with a regular bra. It is also possible to have a regular bra or swimsuit altered to contain a prosthesis pocket. When the bra and prosthesis are well fitted for a particular woman, they are indistinguishable underneath her clothing. A partial prosthesis, which fits over the woman's remaining breast tissue, can also be used with a regular bra.
Some sources state that the loss of a breast through mastectomy can lead to both psychological problems and muscular-skeletal issues, such as problems with the shoulders or back. Using mastectomy prosthetics is an individual choice, and some women might decide to adapt to their new body shape without the use of a prosthesis. Experts urge women to choose the most comfortable prosthesis device for their individual needs.