Breast Cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in the United States. The majority of women with breast cancer will have surgery in combination with chemotherapy and/or radiation. More than 80% of those treated will incur some level of clinical distress associated with the surgical results, or side effects of chemotherapy.
In the 2nd article in our “First Fitting” Series we spoke to Marianne Kelly CMF at Image Recovery Center who detailed what is involved during the process of fitting for a breast prosthesis.
What you should know:
It is important that you schedule your fitting with an experienced certified mastectomy fitter. The fitter becomes a partner in your journey, providing you with available options and professional opinion on what best suits your post-surgery body type and lifestyle.
The provision of post-mastectomy external breast prosthesis is designed to restore the woman’s self- confidence in her appearance, thus curtailing the impact of the disease on her psychological health.
Some Frequently Asked Questions:
Should I plan to meet with a fitter prior to my surgery?
Once your treatment plan has been finalized, you may want to schedule a time to meet with a fitter to explore some options that may be available post-surgery.
How soon after surgery can I have my fitting?
Your fitting will normally take place 6-8 weeks post-surgery. Most of your swelling will have subsided and your surgeon will remove drains. At this time, you should obtain a prescription for mastectomy products to present to your fitter.
What are the benefits of having a breast prosthesis?
- Helps prevent musculoskeletal problems
- Keeps your bra from shifting
- Gives you warmth
- Protects your chest and scars
- May produce a more natural look under clothes
- May produce a more balanced look
What are the benefits of a custom breast prosthesis?
The breast form is tailored to your own needs
Precisely fits the chest wall
Exactly distributes your weight
- May entirely alleviate stress and friction on sensitive areas of the chest wall
- More precisely matches skin tone, breast shape, and areola size/color
How accepting are women about wearing a breast prosthesis?
Most women realize they will need to make changes in their lifestyle but find that when they are fitted well and have good support systems they feel an improved self-esteem and improved body posture & quality of life. Most women are pleasantly surprised at how well their clothes fit even while wearing a prosthesis. Sharing your expectations with your fitter will assure a good outcome.
Will my health insurance cover my post-mastectomy products?
Yes, U.S. legislation passed in 1999 mandated that commercial carriers must provide post-mastectomy coverage for prosthesis and mastectomy bras as a medical necessity. Additionally, all federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid will also cover. However, coverage may vary by carrier for the custom prosthesis. You should review your policy for coverages. An experienced mastectomy fitter should verify your coverage. The amount and frequency of coverage are usually determined by medical necessity and policy limits.
How often should I be measured?
Changes in our body can be influenced by our health, lifestyle, and aging. In order to maintain optimal comfort, you may want to be measured once a year unless you experience a fluctuation in your weight or experience any discomfort from your bra or prosthesis.
We are based in Baltimore, Maryland where we operate four hospital-based Image Recovery Center Clinics that have serviced more than twenty-five thousand patients since 1993. Additionally, another one hundred thousand have been serviced thru our licensing program to other cancer centers across the United States. The premise of our program is that appearance rehabilitation for cancer treatment-related body image issues is part of the oncology treatment protocol.
We understand the importance of a good quality prosthesis and prosthesis fitting and how it can restore the woman’s body image, femininity and psychosocial well-being following breast cancer surgery.
At Image Recovery Centers our passion is to empower women to fight their battle one step at a time. For more information, you can visit us at www.imagerecovery.com