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What are Breast Forms?

Dorothy Bland
Dorothy Bland

Breast forms are a type of external prosthesis used to simulate the appearance, feel, movement, weight, and bounce of real breast tissue. A prosthesis can be fitted inside a mastectomy bra, attached directly using adhesive, or placed against the skin. Breast forms may be bilateral, suited for either side of the body, or asymmetrical and only wearable on either the left or right side of the chest. Forms are designed to suit nearly every skin tone, and additional features such as textured nipples or tear drop-shaped prosthesis are available to provide a natural appearance.

The majority of women who wear breast enhancers use these artificial forms when recovering from breast cancer surgery. Forms can help these women feel more confident, maintain their privacy, and protect the surgical scar from injury. Wearing a prosthesis can also help to prevent shoulder droop, aid balance, alleviate neck pain, and improve posture problems caused by uneven weight distribution after breast after surgery.

Many drag queens wear breast forms.
Many drag queens wear breast forms.

Almost immediately following a mastectomy, woman can be fitted with a soft, light-weight prosthesis. Post-mastectomy forms are for temporary wear; women can be fitted for a permanent prosthesis after surgery scars are healed, usually within eight weeks. For permanent wear, breast forms are weighted and custom designed, providing a breast enhancer that mirrors the shape, size, and heft of a woman's natural breast.

Some women with small or uneven breasts also use forms to improve their body image and provide an alternative to costly cosmetic surgeries. For males undergoing gender transition surgeries, artificial breasts can act as a makeshift solution, providing a reference point on how the body will look after all surgeries are completed and offering a more feminine appearance in the meantime. Cross-dressers, drag queens, and female impersonators may also use breast prosthesis to give the illusion of female breast. To deal with the broader shoulders of the male physique, several lines of bra forms cater exclusively to transgender individuals and cross-dressers.

There is a large discrepancy in the price of breast prosthesis, and models can range from relatively inexpensive to quite costly, depending on materials and customization. Silicone breast forms are the most popular due to their ability to reflect the contour and feel of natural breast, and they tend to be more expensive. A light-weight non-silicone breast form made from fiberfill or foam can be used for exercise or swimming.

Regardless of the reason for wearing breast forms, having a fitting done by a certified prosthesis fitter will result in a more comfortable wear and a more natural look under clothing. Getting a professional fitting can also reassure women that the size they choose compliments their natural proportions. Forms are available online, through mastectomy boutiques, and in specialty shops. For post-mastectomy women, breast forms are available by prescription and may be covered by insurance.

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    • Many drag queens wear breast forms.
      By: Karen Struthers
      Many drag queens wear breast forms.