You are here: Home Managing Your ... Breast Cancer Breast Forms ... Summary
Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


Breast prostheses are breast forms that make it look as if your breasts are natural and balanced while wearing clothing. They are designed to feel as natural as possible including movement and weight. Breast forms are heavy enough to match the weight of your remaining breast. If the prosthesis is weighted properly, the wearer feels balanced. Proper weighting also makes it easier to maintain good posture.

A variety of breast protheses are available.

  • Breast prostheses come in different shapes and sizes - including large ones that replace the breast and enhancers for the woman who has a lumpectomy or is small breasted.
  • Breast prostheses can be made of foam, latex or silicone. Prostheses made of silicone absorb body heat so they are the same temperature as the wearer's body.
  • Breast prostheses can be designed to slip into a pocket in a bra (either a regular bra with a pocket sewn into it or a special mastectomy bra which comes with a pocket). They can also be attached directly to the skin (which you can wear for several days). 
  • Some breast forms can be worn while swimming or doing other strenuous activities.

A breast prosthesis does not move with the body. This can cause discomfort, or a feeling of not being balanced during movement. 

Breast prostheses can be expensive. If you want a custom breast prostheses, it can be very expensive. 

Breast forms may be covered by health insurance if your doctor writes a prescription.

Free or low cost forms may be available.

Where To Purchase A Breast Form (Prosthesis)

The following information is from Breast Cancer, The Complete Guide by Yashar Hirshaut, MD and Peter I. Pressman, MD

Breast forms can be purchased on line or locally. 

A good place to start is American Cancer Society's "tlc offsite link". Click on Mastectomy Products. 

The American Cancer Society provides a list of vendors on its web site. You can also contact the local unit of the American Cancer Society, a Reach To Recovery volunteer, or a nurse in your surgeon's office. 

Check with your surgeon's office staff. Also check a local cancer center. Many centers have boutiques.

Corset shops and the lingerie departments of many large stores employ salespeople with special experience in working with women who have mastectomies. There are also shops that specialize in postmastectomy fittings. These shops tend to be more personal and sensitive to the needs of women after breast surgery.

Try to find out whether other people have been satisfied with the work of the store you are considering. A good fitter is important.

Anchoring Your Bra

Following is from the American Cancer Society's A Breast Cancer JourneyYour Personal Guidebook From The Experts At The American Cancer Society, Atlanta, American Cancer Society, 2001.

If you are using your temporary form or decide to purchase a lightweight form designed for early post-mastectomy wear, the weight may not be sufficient to hold a bra in place. This can be prevented by anchoring the bra.

Take a piece of elastic and sew to either side of the cup of the bra. It should stretch comfortably in a "V" to the waistband of your panties or pantyhose. Attach a garter to your underwear at the point of the "V".

Tips About Choosing A Breast Prosthesis

Choose a day that is relatively free from other obligations and use it looking for prostheses. Taking off and putting on your clothes and seeing your incision is not only exhausting, it is an emotional experience.

Call the shops in your area that carry prostheses and schedule an appointment with a trained fitter. By making an appointment, you won't have to wait after you arrive. You will also have a trained professional working only with you.

Ed. Note: Pay particular attention to:

  • Comfort
  • Balance with your remaining breast
  • What is needed to properly maintain the prostheses

Adapting A Bra For A Prosthesis

Following is from the American Cancer Society's A Breast Cancer JourneyYour Personal Guidebook From The Experts At The American Cancer Society, Atlanta, American Cancer Society, 2001.

 If you like your bra or you don't want to make full pockets for a prosthesis, make a half cross that prevents the prosthesis from moving or falling out of your bra. 

Buy about half a yard of inch-wide washable satin ribbon. 

Turn the bra upside down on a flat surface with your prosthesis inside. 

Position the ribbon over the prosthesis with one end halfway between the middle of the cup and the place where the cup joins the strap. 

Cut and sew or pin both ends of the ribbon into the inside of the bra.

How To Pay For A Breast Prostheses (including financial assistance)

Private health insurance plans and Medicare pay for prostheses.

If you do not have insurance and cannot afford to pay for a breast form, contact:

  • The American Cancer Society Reach to Recovery Program at 800.ACS.2345 or
  • Breast Cancer Network Of Strength at 800.221.2141.

Miscellaneous Tips

Following are some tips from the American Cancer Society's A Breast Cancer JourneyYour Personal Guidebook From The Experts At The American Cancer Society, Atlanta, American Cancer Society, 2001.
  • Check with your insurance company to determine your coverage for a prosthesis and bra. Find out if your policy restricts you to a certain shop or manufacturer. 
  • Ask your doctor to write a prescription for your prosthesis and for any special bras for insurance reimbursement.
  • Consider taking someone with you who will be completely honest with you about how different prostheses look.
  • The most expensive breast form is not necessarily the best for you. The form should not only look good, but should feel comfortable.
  • Because of different types of incisions, the prosthesis that feels good to a relative or a friend may not fit you.
  • Comparison shop to get a good idea of the different prostheses available. Not all shops carry all brands or types. Don't buy the first one you see just to get it over with.
  • When you shop for a prosthesis, wear something form-fitting that will drape nicely, like a silk shirt or a fitted sweater, so you can get a clean look at the shape and contour of your breast. Wear something you enjoyed putting on before your surgery. Try on the prosthesis in a comfortable, supporting bra.
  • Be sure the prosthesis matches your remaining breast as closely as possible from the top, bottom, and front.
  • Not every woman needs a special mastectomy bra with a pocket to hold a prosthesis in place. Ask your trained fitter which type of bra is best for you. Also remember that sometimes pockets can be added to existing bras. Many postmastectomy retailers offer pocket materials or pre-cut pockets for this purpose. Many will sew the pockets into your bras for you.
  • A temporary breast form may be hand-washed, then placed inside the foot of an old stocking and placed in the dryer. You may need to reshape it to regain the contour you want.
  • If you have a lumpectomy or are small-breasted, you can put a breast enhancer in your bra to make the breast match the size of your other breast. As an alternative, you can put a shoulder pad in your bra. Try sewing the pad into your bra.
  • You can obtain prostheses and other products for women with cancer through the American Cancer Society's "tlc" catalog (800-ACS-2345).