What are they?
A breast prosthesis is an artificial breast form that fits inside a bra to replace all or part of a natural breast.
Most breast prostheses are made from a soft, gel-like substance contained within a polyurethane skin. They closely resemble the density and movement of a natural breast and are made in a wide range of styles.
Choices can be made about shape, weight and texture. It is also possible to be fitted with a self-adhesive breast form. The outer surface feels soft and smooth, and may include a nipple outline. The surface that rests against the skin varies, and you can choose one that feels most comfortable for you.
First weeks after surgery
Your chest can be sensitive following breast surgery or radiotherapy, so wearing a silicone prosthesis can be uncomfortable until your chest has healed - about six to eight weeks.
During these weeks you should be given a light fabric-covered prosthesis known as a ‘softie’ or a ‘cumfie’. You may find that the softie tends to ride up because it is so light. It may look better if you adjust the stuffing and either pin or stitch the softie to the bottom of your bra cup and adjust your bra straps.
If you choose or want to wear a bra with your softie, try one that is quite soft and stretchy and is not wired. This may be one you already own. It needs to be easy to put on because your shoulder may be stiff at first.
For advice on exercises to help ease stiffness, see our leaflet on exercise after surgery which is available to order or download from the publications box on the right this page.
Once your chest area is fully healed, you need to make sure you have a well-fitting, supportive bra before you can be successfully fitted for your permanent prosthesis. This is so that your prosthesis matches the shape and size of your natural breast, and is held comfortably and securely in place.
You may choose to buy a mastectomy bra that has a built in pocket for a prosthesis. Alternatively, you can wear a suitable style purchased from a department store or specialised lingerie shop.
Content last reviewed February 2011; next planned review 2013