I’m So Glad You Asked That Question!- Boutique Q & A’s
In this edition of I'm So Glad You Asked That Question!, we answer questions from the To Life! Mastectomy Boutique Mailbox. If you have had or may have a mastectomy, these answers are very informative and will explain how To Life!'s mastectomy boutique can help you on your cancer journey.
Dear friends at To Life!,
I had my mastectomy ten years ago and I got a prosthesis from your boutique. It doesn’t seem to be fitting well anymore and now I’m old enough to be on Medicare. What should I do?
Dear Not Fitting,
I’m so glad you asked that question! First of all, most insurances cover replacement prostheses and bras every two years. Also, To Life! is a Medicare Certified provider so we will take that insurance. Second, and another reason to stay in touch is that all of our bodies change as we age (gravity and all that) so a prosthesis that was perfect back then, may not fit as well ten years later. We always encourage women to come in for a fitting and to see what’s new. There’s no obligation to purchase. We have boutiques in Delmar and Saratoga. We can only see one person at a time and we schedule about one and one half hours for a fitting. Please call for an appointment (518) 439-5975. We’ll be glad to hear from you!
Dear To Life!,
I will be having a mastectomy on one side and don’t want any further surgery. I was planning to get a breast prosthesis but my sister in law is saying that they are so heavy and I won’t like it. I just want to look good and be comfortable.
Not Sure What To Do
Dear Not Sure,
You raise some important concerns. It’s true that a breast form may seem heavy. But that’s for a reason. They are designed to match the weight of an actual breast. Having a single mastectomy and not reconstructing or using a breast prosthesis, can actually be bad for your spine because of the imbalance. Many women develop backaches and discomfort that goes away when they are properly fitted with a breast prosthesis that matches their other breast in size and weight.
While many women opt for reconstruction, others do not want the additional surgery and find prostheses to be a good solution. Also, with some kinds of reconstruction, it can be several months before the process is completed. We can help with solutions or suggestions for looking balanced during that period. Women are more than welcome to visit us BEFORE their surgery to see what is available and learn how the process works. Just give us a call!
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FAQs on How to Choose and Buy a Breast Prosthesis and Mastectomy Bra
One of the services offered at To Life! is the proper fitting of breast prostheses (also called breast forms).After breast cancer surgery, a woman can take control of her appearance and boost her self-esteem with the proper fit of a breast prosthesis.This can make a big difference in a woman’s self-image. Read more for some frequently asked questions and answers concerning breast forms:
“Why should I have a ‘proper fit’?”
A properly fitting breast prosthesis will balance your appearance, prevent your bra from moving around, keep your spine in alignment and balance weight on your shoulders. They are designed to mimic the weight and shape of your natural breast.It is our goal at To Life! to find a prosthesis that is the right size and shape for you and your lifestyle.
“When should I have my first fitting?”
After surgery, your surgeon will recommend the appropriate time for you to start wearing a breast prosthesis. This largely depends upon the post-operative healing process and the type of mastectomy that was performed.While we appreciate that many women in the post-mastectomy phase of recovery are quickly ready to get back to normal or at least establish a “new normal”, it is a good idea to wait at least five to six weeks post-surgery to ensure all swelling has gone down.Your measurements will not be accurate if you are swollen.
“What should I wear to a fitting?”
You should wear what you normally wear in your everyday life.Part of the fitting is seeing how your clothes fit and look when you are wearing the prosthesis.A snug-fitting, design-free top will offer you the best idea of how proportional and symmetrical the breast prosthesis is to your body.
“How are prostheses sized?”
Breast prostheses are available in different shapes, sizes and skin tones.You will be fit to a shape that best conforms to your body shape and matches your existing breast (for unilateral patients).The forms are not sized like a bra so you can't count on getting a form that fits by referencing your bra size.Our fitters can help you find a style and size that works best for you.
“What do they look like?”
Some forms are symmetrical, so they can be used on either side, and some forms are designed to be asymmetrical (used only on your right or left side).
“What are they made of?”
Some are made of silicone and some are made of fiberfill. A silicone breast prosthesis is closest to imitating breast tissue in weight and drape.A good prosthesis will also have some movement similar to your real breast.Some silicone breast prostheses are designed to be worn in the pocket of a mastectomy bra and some are designed to adhere directly to the chest wall.
A fiberfill breast form is very light weight, although some do come “weighted.”It is a good idea to ask your fitter about the pros and cons of a fiberfill breast form.These forms may not be the best option for some women because they may be too light.Fiberfill breast forms are designed to be worn in the pocket of a mastectomy bra.
To Life! has a wide variety of breast prostheses and breast forms and our fitters are knowledgeable in what each form has to offer.The fitters will help you find a prosthesis that's the proper shape, size and weight for your lifestyle and your body.
“Is it comfortable to wear a prosthesis?”
Fit and comfort of a prosthesis is very individual.The prosthesis is designed to mimic the weight of the existing breast and the existing breast can be surprisingly heavy.The industry has come a long way in offering silicone prostheses that are lighter weight and cooler.Our fitters can show you the latest in lightweight silicone prostheses.
“How do I take care of my prosthesis?”
Simply washing them with a mild soap, towel drying them and putting them in their box when they are not being worn is all the care and maintenance they need.
“Will my insurance cover the cost of my prosthesis?”
Insurance companies typically provide coverage for one prosthesis every two years for unilateral patients or two prostheses every two years for bilateral patients.Because of that two-year limit, it is very important to be sized correctly.If you are sized incorrectly, you will not be eligible to re-submit for the correctly sized prosthesis for two years.That is why we recommend waiting until all of your swelling has gone down.
“Do I need a prescription?”
Your doctor will need to write a prescription for “mastectomy bras” and a “breast prosthesis” if you plan to submit these products to your insurance company.
“When do I get the mastectomy bra?”
Your fitting for the breast prosthesis will include a mastectomy bra fitting.The fitter will measure you to determine your bra band size and your cup size.If you have had bilateral surgery, you will tell the fitter the cup size you want to be.To Life! offers many options for mastectomy bras including seamed, seamless, molded cup, camisole bras, and sports bras.
Our goal at To Life! is to ensure your breast prosthesis and mastectomy bra needs are met properly and in a stress-free manner.A proper fitting at the right time is the best way to attain that goal.
“How Much Does a Prosthesis Cost?”
Fitting services at To Life! are complimentary, provided by certified mastectomy fitters. There are costs associated with product. We participate with some insurance companies, including Medicare. However, should we not participate with your insurance company, please know that we have options for supporting your needs and will not turn anyone away. Please feel free to contact us for more detailed information on how we may best serve you.
Our goal at To Life! is to ensure your breast prosthesis and mastectomy bra needs are met properly and in a stress-free manner. A proper fitting at the right time is the best way to attain that goal. Please feel free to contact our fitters with any questions you may have.
Please feel free to contact our fitters with any questions you may have.
Delmar Boutique:Ann Rose (518) 439-5975
Saratoga Boutique:Melanie Murphy (518) 587-3820
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To Life! offers Reiki and Healing Touch at no charge to patients, survivors, and caregivers by appointment.
Each of these therapies promotes relaxation and healing, and clients leave our doors with a sense of calm and positivity.
As one client stated,
"I really enjoyed my [Healing Touch] experience with Shirley. I left in peace and calm. The feeling continues today. Oddly for me, tears flowed during the session; I wonder where they came from. Hmmmm. I haven't cried in years, but it sure felt good!!
I strongly recommend a session with Shirley for everybody. The healing touch made the rest of my day pleasant and enjoyable; I was able to relax and enjoy the simple wonders of nature that surround me that I don't notice very often, like the smell of flowers in my garden, the birds chirping, the magnificient sky. Truly a magical experience. It dawned on me that I might just be depressed and Shirley's healing hands greatly affected my mind, body and spirit. Amazing!!"
--Ruth, Breast Cancer Survivor
To learn more about how Reiki can help manage chronic pain, visit this article: How can Reiki help you?