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Is having a breast prosthesis only for cosmetic reasons?

Cancer treatment can be overwhelming and brings immense psychological impact to some cancer survivors. Research studies have shown that more than a third of cancer patients struggled with adjusting to their life after cancer. Approximately one-third of cancer survivors reported having experienced prolonged negative moods such as depression and anxiety, even two years following the cancer treatment.

 

This is particularly true for breast cancer survivors, as changes in physical appearance following breast cancer treatment can take a drastic toll on their self-confidence and emotional well-being. Breast prosthesis can help them rebuild confidence by restoring the natural look and feel of their breasts and eases the discomfort associated with mastectomy and lumpectomy by relieving stiffness, numbness, and pain in the neck and shoulders. This in turn helps alleviate the adverse impact on their psychological health.

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Breast Cancer Support | Types and Functions of Breast Prosthesis

A breast prosthesis is an artificial breast form that replaces the shape of all or part of the breast that has been removed. Most of them are made from medical-grade soft silicone gel, designed to move, feel, and weigh similar to a natural breast. Prostheses come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and weights, so it is essential to schedule a professional fitting with a certified fitter specialist to assist you in selecting and fitting the appropriate prosthesis that meets your individual needs.

 

The following are types of breast prostheses:

01. Full or standard breast prosthesis

These are for women who have undergone a mastectomy and are inserted into special bras. A standard prosthesis can be made from various materials including weightless foam, which is suitable to wear immediately after breast operations. It also includes silicone of varying weights, which is recommended for regular use after the wounds have healed.

02. Partial or shaped breast prosthesis

Similar in shape to bra pads, a partial breast form is hollow and shaped to fill out the breast outline. It is designed for women who have had part of their breast removed to achieve a more balanced look. Made from silicone, it offers a natural and comfortable feel.

03. Custom breast prosthesis

A breast prosthesis can be custom-made for different occasions such as for wearing when swimming, at the hot springs, with strapless dresses, and during exercise. It can be heat-resistant or sticks directly onto the skin, allowing breast cancer survivors to live their lives more normally.

Breast Cancer Support|Tips on Choosing Breast Prosthesis

  • Breast Prosthesis Weight

The optimal weight depends on the weight of the other breast. If both breasts have been removed, choose a prosthesis that you feel most comfortable wearing. If a larger size of a prosthesis is needed, it is recommended to choose those made from lightweight materials. However, it is also important to note that breast forms made from non-weighted materials such as foam that might also move around easily.

  • Balance

Problems with balance often arise after the removal of one breast. If your cup size is A, the problem will be less severe because each breast weighs between about 100g to 200g. If your cup size is B or C, this can mean that each breast weighs between 300g to 500g and the impact of the imbalance will be somewhat more noticeable, potentially causing back pain and other related issues. In this case, women who recover from breast cancer are strongly recommended to wear a breast prosthesis.

  • Lifestyle

Given the humid weather in Hong Kong, you should consider choosing a breast prosthesis with a comfortable and breathable design, especially if you happen to be an outdoors person.

Breast Cancer Support|Breast Reconstruction

In general, breast reconstruction with breast implants takes place about six to eight weeks after mastectomy or lumpectomy when the wounds and scars have been healed, and swelling has reduced.

 

Implant reconstruction – The implant is mainly made from silicone gel or saltwater (saline). After a mastectomy, the breast implant can be inserted under your chest muscle in one-go if there is a sufficient amount of tissue available to cover the implant. However, if a large amount of skin has been removed, a tissue expander will be placed between the skin and chest muscle to make room for the final implant.

 

Autologous or “flap” reconstruction – This method uses tissue transplanted from another part of your body to reconstruct the shape of your breast or breasts.

Cancer Patient Support

HKIOC and HKAOC collaborate to provide a rehabilitation program for cancer patients and their family. It entails a comprehensive list of services tailored to you and your caregivers’ needs, covering diet and nutritional counselling services, clinical psychological services, breast cancer support, PAXMAN scalp cooling treatment, massage therapy, cancer education, and counselling.

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