Frequently Asked Questions
Wearing a breast form after breast surgery is important to restore your balance and symmetrical appearance. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding payment coverage, breast forms and mastectomy bras.
Q: Will my insurance or Medicare pay for a silicone breast form and mastectomy bras?
A: Most insurance companies and Medicare will consider coverage for a silicone breast form with a prescription from your doctor. Both typically will pay for one silicone breast form every two years (two every two years if you have bilateral surgery). Both will typically consider coverage for all or part of mastectomy bras as well. Please check with your insurance company or Medicare for specific benefits.
Q: What is the life expectancy of my silicone breast form?
A: Naturalwear silicone breast forms are warranted against manufacturer’s defects for two years from the date of purchase. Your breast form may last longer than two years with proper care. We recommend a Certified Mastectomy Fitter check the fit of your bra and breast form annually as your body may change with weight fluctuations and age.
Q: How do I clean my breast form?
A: Your breast form should be washed daily with warm water and a mild liquid soap as body oils, deodorant and perfume can accumulate on the skin of your breast form. We also recommend storing your breast form in the cradle. Your Certified Mastectomy Fitter will review with you how to clean and store your breast form.
Q: Why does my breast form feel heavy?
A: Your Certified Mastectomy Fitter will take time to measure and fit you with the most appropriate breast form for your activity level and physical needs. If your breast form feels heavy, the first thing you should do is have the fit of your bra evaluated. A mastectomy bra only has an average life span of three to six months. After this time, the bra may not provide adequate support. The bra should hold your breast form close to your chest wall. If your breast form feels heavy, your bra more than likely may need to be replaced.
Q: Is a lightweight breast form right for me?
A: Many women who cannot tolerate a fully weighted silicone breast form find that a light weight breast form is more comfortable. Some medical conditions such as lymph-edema or osteoporosis of the spine warrant a light weight breast form. Again, your Certified Mastectomy Fitter will take time to fit you with the most appropriate breast form for your age and physical needs.
Q: What if I had a lumpectomy, breast conserving surgery or reconstruction and not a full mastectomy?
A: Trulife offers a full line of partial prostheses or “shells” made of the same high quality silicone used in Naturalwear breast forms. Products in our Evenly You line are thinner than full breast forms, and can be placed exactly where you need extra tissue to once again achieve a symmetrical appearance. Medicare and most insurance companies will consider coverage for a partial breast form with a prescription from your doctor.
Q: What is a breast form?
A: A breast form is a prosthesis that is worn inside a bra or attached to the skin with a special adhesive system to closely simulate the weight and contours of a natural breast. It can be made from silicone, foam or fiberfill.
Q: How many women wear breast forms?
A: An estimated 80 percent of women who have had a mastectomy will choose to wear an external breast form.
Q: How soon after my surgery can I wear a breast form?
A: As soon as a woman receives permission from her physician, usually four to six weeks after surgery, she can schedule an appointment to be fitted with a weighted silicone breast form. This allows time for the surgery site to heal properly. Directly after surgery many women wear a post-surgical camisole that includes removable pockets to hold drain tubes and a fiber-filled breast form to give shape. This can be worn home from the hospital.
Q: Do breast forms come in different styles?
A:There are several different styles of breast forms designed to meet the special needs associated with the various types of breast surgeries. The following are the major types of breast surgeries performed today:
Partial Mastectomy: Removal of one-quarter or more of the breast. Lymph nodes under the arm may also be removed.
Modified Mastectomy: Removal of the entire breast along with adjacent underarm lymph nodes.
Simple or Total Mastectomy: Removal of the entire breast.
Radical Mastectomy: Extensive removal of entire breast, lymph nodes, and the chest wall muscles under the breast. This procedure is rarely done now, but was common in the past.
Lumpectomy: Removal of only cancerous tissues and a rim of normal tissue.
Q: I understand that there are different breast forms for various surgeries, but why would a woman require a breast form following a lumpectomy?
A: A lumpectomy preserves as much as the surrounding breast tissue as possible; however, the removal of the cancerous lump may cause a noticeable difference in size from the normal breast.
Q: Does a woman need a breast form after reconstruction?
A: Some women experience a significant difference in size between breasts following reconstruction and will wear a partial breast form to restore the natural balance and symmetry. Also, reconstruction of the nipple usually takes place several months after breast reconstruction to allow proper positioning (some women choose not to have nipple reconstruction). There are also natural-looking silicone nipples that can be used directly on the skin following reconstructive surgery.
Q: What is the advantage of a weighted silicone breast form?
A: Because the human body is essentially symmetrical, imbalance occurs when a breast is removed causing one shoulder to drop downward and inward, and the other to rise up. When the body is not properly aligned, back, shoulder and neck discomfort can result. A weighted silicone breast form will help restore natural balance by approximating the remaining breast in weight and balance as well as in projection and width. A weighted silicone breast form warms to a woman’s body temperature and appears smooth and natural under clothing. It also keeps the brassiere from riding up or pulling to one side.
Q: Can I wear a silicone breast form swimming?
A: Yes. Silicone breast forms will not be damaged by chlorine or salt water and can be worn in the swimming pool, ocean or hot tub. After use, gently wash and dry breast form.
Q: How do I know if my bra is fitting correctly?
A: The frame and sides should lie smoothly without cutting into the flesh. The cups should also fit smoothly without wrinkling. If that happens, try a smaller cup size. If the cups are cutting into the breast tissue, opt for a larger cup size. The breasts should fill the cups without overflowing.
Q: How do I put my bra on?
A: First, slip straps over the shoulders. Then lean forward to fill the cups fully. Fasten the hook on the middle clasp then stand up and adjust the straps.
Q: Why is there a relationship with a proper-fitting bra and overall health?
A: A poor-fitting bra results in bad posture and can cause back problems and shoulder and neck pain. A poorly fitted under wire bra, for instance, can harm the breast tissue itself.
Q: Why are so many women wearing a bra that doesn’t fit them?
A: In many cases, the salespeople are not adequately trained in proper bra fitting. In other cases, research has shown that women will opt for “looking good” over the comfort that a proper fitting bra provides.
Q: How often should I be fitted for a bra?
A: Twice a year. The average woman will wear six different bra sizes in her lifetime due to life changes such as puberty, pregnancy, menopause, weight fluctuations, the effects of the birth control pill and other transitions.
Q: I have larger-sized breasts. What kind of bra is best for me?
A: Women with larger breasts should wear under wire bras, as they help support the shoulders and back. It’s also important that the cup fits properly.
Q: I have very small breasts and usually don’t wear a bra. Is that a good idea?
A: It is always advisable to wear a bra, as over time, gravity affects even smaller breasts. Wearing a bra prevents the breasts from spreading to the sides, which causes widening between them. Wearing a bra also makes clothes look and fit better.
Q: What range of cup size does Lorraine’s carry?
A: 32 AA through 48DDD.
Q: How do I care for my bra?
A: To prolong the life of your bra, always wash with a mild detergent. We suggest SOAK soap, (sold at Lorraine’s) the biodegradable, eco-friendly wash. Washing the bra by hand is best for the garment’s longevity. Never put the bra in the dryer. It’s a sure way to curtail the bra’s lifespan.