Patient Guide

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About Breast Prosthetics & Mastectomy Bras

Shine is committed to helping women adjust to the changes brought about by breast cancer.

Changes to one’s body image are difficult for most women. We all require care to adjust to change. We are here to offer options, choices, and emotional support to help you through this process. Shine provides an environment where you can find the products you need to restore your body image with respect, privacy, and support.

Frequently asked questions and answers

• What is a breast prosthesis?
• Why do I need a breast prosthesis?
• What are the advantages of having a breast prosthesis?
• What is a mastectomy bra?
• How soon after surgery can a breast form (prosthesis) be worn?
• How can I buy these products?
• Does Shine sell prostheses over the Internet?
• How are these products paid for?
• Do I need a prescription?
• How much does a breast form (prosthesis) and mastectomy bra cost?
• Why does buying products at Shine help other cancer survivors?

What is a breast prosthesis?

A breast prosthesis or breast form is an artificial breast that is used after a woman’s breast has been surgically altered or removed. Whether the loss of the breast is permanent or temporary, a breast form can be worn to simulate the natural breast and body shape. Full breasts and partial breasts, known as equalizers, can be purchased to balance the appearance depending on what type of surgical procedure was performed. These forms come in a variety of materials (usually silicone, foam, or fiberfill) and can be worn inside a bra or attached to the body with a special adhesive.

Why do I need a breast prosthesis?

Many women who have been treated for breast cancer have had surgery, like a lumpectomy, modified or simple mastectomy, or radical mastectomy.
A silicone breast prosthesis is weighted and simulates the natural breast. One of its advantages is that it helps your body be symmetrical again and remain in balance. When the body is out of balance following a surgery of this kind, other muscle-skeletal problems can develop. Back, neck, and shoulder problems are common as well as a tendency for one shoulder to drop downward and inward while the other rises up. Women also often report that the bra rides up or moves around if there is no weighted breast form on one side of the bra.

What are the advantages of having a breast prosthesis?

Wearing a breast prosthesis is a personal choice. Many women want to wear one because they want to wear the same clothing that they wore prior to the surgery and they want to look symmetrical. There are other advantages to having a breast prosthesis.

  • Gives you warmth
  • Protects your chest and scars
  • Helps balance your posture
  • Keeps your bra from shifting or riding up
  • Helps prevent problems with curvature of the spine, shoulder drop, and muscular pain in the neck and back

What is a mastectomy bra?

A mastectomy bra is a special bra with pockets to hold a breast prosthesis. There are many attractive bras that come in several colors (white, ivory, black, red, and nude/beige) that can be fitted at the time of the prosthesis. New products are always becoming available (in different shapes, weights, etc.) so it is a good idea to visit Shine to see if there have been any advances since your last fitting.

We carry brands like Amoena and Anita.

How soon after surgery can a breast form be worn?

You should always consult your physician about when to where a breast form. It varies for each woman depending on her surgery and healing. Most women will be able to wear a prosthesis (breast form) within two to eight weeks after surgery, once there are no longer any open wounds or stitches. Camisoles that have soft attachable prostheses can be worn immediately after surgery until the surgical site is healed.

How can I buy these products?

Shine is a cancer specialty store that fits breast prostheses and bras and provides other services. Unlike some lingerie or department stores, we cater to the needs of women with breast cancer. There are many different brands of prostheses. The most important concern is finding one that is comfortable and fits your body. Our expert certified breast prosthesis fitters will fit the bra and prosthesis. You may schedule an appointment for your fitting. The first fitting usually takes about an hour.

Does Shine sell prostheses over the Internet?

Shine does not sell prostheses over the Internet because we believe these products need to be fit by a certified fitter. Every woman's body is different. Most women require only one prosthesis and the goal is the match the look of the other breast and to find something that is comfortable. Expert fitters have seen hundreds of different bodies, know the products that are available, and can provide a woman with the best professional fit. Sometimes there is more than one option and that really cannot be determined without trying it on. We have found that even under the best of circumstances, where patients come into the store, the fit can be difficult for some patients. We encourage you to find a place that has prostheses and certified fitters who really understand the fitting problems. Buying a breast prosthesis is not like shopping for other items and the knowledge of the person helping you can make a big difference in what you purchase and how you feel.

How are these products paid for?

You may purchase the prostheses yourself; however, it is a good idea to check your medical insurance before doing this to find out if they will cover the price, how frequently they will replace the prosthesis, and what kind of authorizations are needed.

 It is important that you know what your coverage is prior to your fitting.
Since prostheses have a wide range of prices, it is a good idea to find out as much as possible in advance. You need to play an active role in determining what is allowed by your insurance or medical group so that you can receive the best value as well as the best fit and comfort.

Shine requires payment in full. We are happy to assist you with courtesy billing. This allow us to submit the claim on your behalf so the reimbursement will go directly to you.

Do I need a prescription?

A doctor usually writes a prescription for a breast form, and some insurance companies require a special authorization just like they do for specialists or other medical procedures referred from a primary care doctor. A typical prescription for a breast prosthesis and bras would say the following: "Breast prosthesis for (right, left, or bilateral) and (quantity) prosthetic bras for (diagnosis)."

Please note that if there has been a recent change in your body that requires a new prosthesis such as weight gain or weight loss, your doctor should include this information on the prescription. Any information that supports the medical necessity of the prosthesis will help your insurance plan understand what you need and why. This will facilitate more rapid authorization and/or payment processing by your insurance plan.

CMN/Practitioner Notes (PDF). Please bring a copy of your CMN/Practitioner Notes with your prescription to your fitting appointment.

How much does a breast form (prosthesis) or mastectomy bra cost?

There are many different kinds of breast forms, and the prices vary. A high priced breast form does not insure good quality or a good fit. A proper fitting in our store is the best way to find a good fit that meets your budget. Here is the range of prices that you can expect:

  • Silicone Prostheses $245 - $390
  • Non Silicone Prostheses $150 - $200
  • Balance Form $90 - $150
  • Contact Form $400 - $550
  • Post Surgical Products $40 - $98
  • Mastectomy Bras $36 - $98

Why does buying products at Shine help other cancer survivors?

Shine is a result of SCCA’s Patient and Family Centered Care practices. Shine is the sister store SCCA’s Rain or Shine gift shop, where many patients asked for more services. Shine is SCCA’s response to your requests. Proceeds benefit patient programs.