Breast reconstruction is not your only option after a mastectomy. What you do with your body is your choice, so feel free to take control of the decision.
Facing a breast cancer diagnosis and an onslaught of choices, only about three out of every seven women get the chance to research breast reconstruction surgery before they are scheduled to begin their cancer treatments. By insurers and clinicians, reconstructive surgery will often be treated as a package deal with a mastectomy or lumpectomy. Therefore, it is not uncommon for physicians to assume that reconstructive surgery is the best option for their breast cancer patients. However, not every woman is a good candidate for breast reconstruction and not every woman wants breast implants after a mastectomy. For women seeking alternatives to breast reconstruction surgery, there are several options that both practitioners and patients need to know.
1. Custom Breast Forms
If having breasts helps you feel like yourself again but reconstructive surgery is not an option, custom breast forms are a great alternative. Using safe scanning technology, a mastectomy fitter can take a scan of your chest wall measurements that will be used by a custom breast form manufacturer to fabricate a contoured breast form that fits you and only you. This precise fit achieves a more natural appearance by conforming to your body’s unique shape.
Because custom breast forms have several attachment options, you do not have to wear any special clothing like pocket bras that are necessary with off-the-shelf breast forms. This feature minimize your custom breast form’s movement, making participation in athletics and sports easy. ContourMed’s custom breast forms are also waterproof, so the form material itself cannot absorb water while showering or swimming.
2. Off-the-Shelf Breast Forms
Healing from a mastectomy usually takes approximately four to six weeks. Then, most mastectomy patients schedule a prosthetic breast form fitting with a mastectomy retailer. With a doctor’s prescription, you can purchase breast prosthetics straight off the shelf that are covered by most insurance plans. Along with off-the-shelf breast forms, you can also purchase post-mastectomy bras, camisoles, swimwear, and more to fit your lifestyle from mastectomy stores.
The problem that arises for some women, however, is that off-the-shelf options do not always fit comfortably. When compared to the options available with custom breast forms, the options available with off-the-shelf breast are more limited. The sizes and shapes for off-the-shelf options are set by each product’s manufacturer, so if a retailer’s available breast form options do not fit you, you may just have to settle for something that almost fits you.
3. No Prosthetics At All
Prosthetics of any kind are a positive alternative to breast reconstruction for women who may be dealing with self-consciousness or a lack of confidence after a mastectomy, but there are also some women who feel most comfortable without any prosthesis at all. Some breast cancer survivors find an appreciation for their new body and wear their scars with pride.
For women who find off-the-shelf prosthetics to be uncomfortable, they may choose to embrace freedom from forms and bras. Additonally, some highly-active women feel that off-the-shelf options can get in the way of swimming, running, or other forms of exercise they enjoy.
As caregivers, it is important to ensure that your breast cancer patients know all of their options after undergoing a mastectomy. As a patient, it is important to find the option that works best for your personal needs and goals. For more information about alternatives to breast reconstruction, contact ContourMed at 501-214-6080. Our product lines offer a variety of custom breast form options to fit your needs.