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  • Silicone got a lot of bad press in the 90′s because of health issues surrounding breast implants. But it is important to point out that none of the health concerns which arose from use of these implants apply to breast prostheses or “breast forms” as they are commonly known.

    After breast conserving surgery, where malignant tumors are removed and healthy breast tissue remains, women expect to look and feel much the same as they did before surgery. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and women find themselves looking for a way to return to a more symmetrical and natural shape.

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    Health problems associated with implants had to do with the fact that they were inside the body, not outside the body. Breast forms are worn on the outside of the body. The worst health problem you’re likely to encounter by wearing one is prickly heat if you sweat a lot.

    Both implants and better quality breast prostheses are made with medical grade silicone. But there are differences. Implants are not as firm, and there is no pigment. Also, the film surrounding the silicone is different. Both use a polyurethane film, but of different grades. The polyurethane used with implants had to be resistant to water from body tissues. With breast forms, it’s more important to use a film that protects against the wear and tear of daily use.

    Problems with silicone leaking into the body were a major source of trouble with implants, along with the fear that leaking implants might cause certain connective tissue diseases. If a breast form leaks you might get a sticky spot on your bra or on your chest wall, depending upon where the leak is. It is not toxic.

    One of the most typical problems after breast conserving surgery is a small cavity in the breast which creates a sunken or shallow area visible under the bra. A balanced silicone shaper can fill this type of cavity and be worn in any fashion bra for a smooth, full, even shape.

    Insurance companies have varying degrees of coverage for silicone shapers. Many policies which cover prosthetic breasts are not specific about coverage for products after breast conserving surgery or reconstruction. A good rule of thumb for insurance companies is this: If a product is needed to restore the patient’s natural weight and balance, it will be covered. If the need is purely cosmetic, coverage is normally denied. Patients will have to check with their insurance provider for details of the coverage.

    There are lots of reasons for choosing or not choosing reconstruction. This is a deeply personal decision. The only “right” choice is one that feels right to you in your particular circumstances. Sometimes circumstances change and sometimes you have to re-evaluate your choices, but acknowledging your own feelings is the most important step toward making this decision.

    Relevant Links

    Visit the Mastectomy, Lumpectomy & Breast Reconstruction Shop and find breast cancer surgery bras, camisoles, and swimsuits, and a wide variety of natural breast forms (breast prosthesis) in all shapes, styles, and sizes, and related accessories.

    Chat with women and survivors on the Mastectomy Message Board.

    This article was reprinted by permission from www.thebreastcaresite.com, which is devoted to addressing the general needs of all who have been touched by breast cancer, including newly diagnosed patients and long time survivors, as well as their friends, family members and coworkers. Breastcaresite.com’s specific mission focuses on providing breast cancer survivors with accurate information about everything from post-surgery options and products to information about insurance and intimacy issues.


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