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Frequently Asked Questions

Q Why is wearing a breast prosthesis important for a post-mastectomy patient?
While recreating a pre-surgery appearance helps meet the psychological need for a positive self-esteem, the use of a breast prosthesis also serves a physiological purpose by restoring natural balance and carriage of body weight. Not wearing a breast prosthesis, can create:
• Spinal curvature
• Shoulder drop
• Balance problems
• Muscle contracture and stretching/neck and back pain
• Clothing to fit inappropriately due to chest wall variations

Q When wearing a breast prosthesis, why is wearing a post-mastectomy bra recommended?
A pocketed post-mastectomy bra is advised because…
• The pocketed bra creates security for the prosthesis and allows the form to move with the body.
• The mastectomy bra is designed to allow a higher fit under the arm where tissue may be missing.
• The straps are set closer in the back to help balance the prosthesis weight.
• Side frames help support, anchor, and balance the band around the body.

Q If reconstruction is planned, will a prosthesis be needed?
Since decisions related to reconstruction need not be scheduled at the time of the initial surgery, patients can choose to bridge the time with a prosthesis that maintains body alignment and provides shape to the individual profile.

Q How often should fittings be repeated?
It is suggested that new measurements be taken as often as every 6 months until the body has stabilized. Anatomical changes may include swelling, weight loss/gain and changes in shape.

Q When am I allowed to get new garments and/or prostheses?
Most insurances allow at least 6 new garments per year. Many insurances will say as medically necessary; which is about 8-10 per year. It is important to remember the expected lifetime of a bra is only 6 months. A silicone prosthesis can be replaced once every two
years. And a foam form can get replaced once every six months. However, everyone’s insurance is different and will need to be contacted before new garments and prostheses are provided.

Q Will insurance pay for the prosthesis and bras?
Many private insurance plans, as well as Medicare, have an allowable reimbursement for these services. It is suggested your insurance be contacted to determine benefits, restrictions and patient responsibilities. CPO will process Medicare and other private insurance claims according to our office policy.

Q Do the silicone or foam prostheses trigger security alarms at airports or in retail department stores?
Silicone prostheses are not known to trigger alarm systems. However, materials used in the weighted foam prosthesis are made up of a metal/gel weight and could potentially be sensitive to security alarms. If you have a foam prosthesis just be aware that the prosthesis does contain metal. But it does not need to be a concern, it’s just important to be aware. If you are concerned a prescription from your physician can be provided.

Q Can a silicone breast prosthesis be used in the swimming pool, hot tub, or salt water?
Many manufacturers indicate their products can be used in either a swimming pool or hot tub, but we will suggest that a specifically designed swim form be used if you are in chlorinated water regularly. Otherwise, the breast form you were provided with can be worn in a pool or hot tub. The prosthesis will need to be washed well with a mild soap and left to air dry after each use.