Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS)

Breast prostheses

Women who had a mastectomy without immediate breast reconstruction were given a lightweight foam prosthesis (false breast), which they could put inside their bra. This is sometimes called a cumfie or softie. It is designed to be worn immediately after the operation when the area feels tender. When the wound has fully healed, they can choose a permanent prosthesis. This is a false breast that closely matches the size and shape of the healthy breast and is worn inside the bra. Prostheses are made from soft silicone gel encased in a thin film, moulded to form the natural shape of a woman’s breast. The outer surface feels soft and smooth, and may include a nipple outline. They are available in all skin colours. Several types of prosthesis are available from the NHS.
Some women talked about having a prosthesis fitting with the breast care nurse shortly after their chest area had fully healed. Although most women were happy with the fitting, one felt that the nurse was a bit insensitive.
Most women who chose not to have breast reconstruction used a prosthesis, though a few said they often wore a cumfie or nothing at all because they’d always had small breasts. Some women said that, at first, they felt self-conscious about wearing a prosthesis, and putting it into their bra was something they had to get used to, as was having to buy special bras from specialist stockists. One younger woman said she didn’t like the range of bras available, which seemed to be aimed towards older women. For many women, putting a prosthesis into their bra was ‘a constant reminder’ that they’d had cancer. With time, however, it was something they accepted and got used to, including washing and looking after it.
Some women said they resented having to wear their prosthesis at all times, even at home with their family, in order to avoid looking lop sided. A few women said they found the prosthesis heavy but preferred swimming prostheses because they were lighter.
Several women said that they wore a prosthesis after their mastectomy but, later, chose to have breast reconstruction.

More experiences of prostheses can be found on the Healthtalk Breast Cancer site.

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Last reviewed July 2017.

Last updated July 2011


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