By: Teresa Kelly
Silhouette Mastectomy Boutique
For patients who do not choose breast reconstruction, breast prostheses can help to recapture the look and feel a woman had prior to her lumpectomy, mastectomy, reduction or uneven reconstruction.
Conventional off-the-shelf breast forms are made of silicone, foam or fiberfill, and come in many shapes and sizes. These forms tuck inside a special pocketed bra or camisole to keep the form in place. Some styles come with adhesive backing that attaches to the chest wall for a very natural look and feel.
Custom breast forms can be fabricated to give a more natural appearance by matching the patient’s natural contours and skin color, resulting in a better fit and more symmetrical look.
Improved Fitting Results with 3D Laser Scanning.
Advances in technology are bringing changes to the world of breast prostheses. One example is the FastScan system (http://fastscan.com), a portable 3D scanner which makes a digital scan of the chest in real time. This technology delivers great results for post-mastectomy fitting as well as for lumpectomy and uneven/unbalanced reconstruction.
3D scanning gives precise imaging of the patient’s chest as well as any remaining breast tissue. The back side of the custom prosthesis is tailored to the exact dimensions of the surgery site as digitized by the scanner, providing the best possible fit. This precise fit eliminates the need for a pocketed bra and gives women the freedom to wear off-the-shelf bras and swimsuits.
Custom Prostheses Give Patients More Color Options.
One company that specializes in custom breast prosthesis is Radiant Impressions by TruLife (http://www.radiantimpressions.com). Their custom breast forms are lighter than traditional silicone off-the-shelf forms and are available in a multitude of colors. With 30 skin tone colors to choose from, the prosthesis can match (or very closely match) a woman’s natural skin tone. The results are a realistic appearance that is a unique duplicate of the patient’s natural breast.
Another benefit of a custom prosthesis is the ability to custom contour nipples and areolas. These are fabricated to match the desired size, color and shape of the remaining nipple and areola. Semi-custom nipples and areolas can also be fabricated for post-bilateral reconstruction patients.
What to Expect From Insurance.
Insurance coverage can vary, but most typically cover:
- A minimum of 2, and up to 12 special mastectomy bras (with prostheses pockets) on a yearly basis
- 1 light weight prosthesis every 6 months
- a new, silicone prosthesis every 1-2 years
Some insurance companies also provide benefits for custom breast prosthesis. The mastectomy practice will contact each patient’s insurer to determine her eligibility and allowances, as well as any out of pocket expenses. Most plans typically allow lifetime benefits, no matter the length of time since the surgery – patients should be advised to continue to utilize these benefits.
More Choices = Happier Patients = Better Outcomes.
Living with mastectomy or lumpectomy is challenging on many levels. Giving a woman a piece of her femininity back can have huge rewards in her mental and physical health. Advances in technology are extending beyond the hospital walls to after care, bringing devices that can make life more enjoyable and meaningful for patients. This results is happier patients with better outcomes.