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In the early 1900s, when the mastectomy was first performed, there were no breast prostheses available. Women either did without a prosthesis or made their own out of available materials. The results were not always flattering, nor could the home-made prostheses compensate for the loss of the weight of a natural breast.
Through research and design, manufacturers have been able to determine the needs of the prosthesis wearer and has improved their products through innovation and technology.
Through much data collecting, the mass to weight ratio was developed to recreate the weight of a natural breast. It is believed in the post-mastectomy industry that some women develop complications following mastectomy if their prosthesis is too light. This can lead to shoulder drop, neck pain and back pain. Other women cannot tolerate the weight of a prosthesis that would otherwise be the perfect size for them – thus the lightweight breast form was created. Women who are experiencing osteoarthritis or osteoporosis are finding the lighter weight prostheses do not aggravate their problems.
Shapes such as symmetrical, asymmetrical and extra are available providing a wide variation for every woman’s body shape. Partials are also developed to meet the needs of women who have had breast conserving surgery. Their shape restores symmetry following a partial mastectomy or lumpectomy.
Silicone has been in use for nearly 40 years now for breast prostheses. The feel of silicone under clothing is extremely lifelike. Silicone can also be made in different pigments to better match skin tones. Lifelike nipples and areolas are available in some silicone forms. Silicone can be whipped with air to create a much lighter prosthesis that still holds a natural look and shape. Silicone can be used in different densities in the same prosthesis to create a soft drape in the front and a firmer density in the back. It is a far superior material for breast prostheses.
Breast prostheses can be made with the option to attach right to the chest wall. Attachable breast forms can be worn braless for smaller breasted women, and can be worn while swimming. A skin-friendly pearl adhesive on the back of the form creates a secure bond. Tests have shown that there are wide individual variations in the length of time the adhesion lasts. An attachable breast form provides more freedom in clothing choices like low-cut dresses, giving a woman more security and self-confidence.