Breast Prostheses and Post-Mastectomy Products
- What is a Breast Prosthesis?
- What is a Mastectomy and a Post-Mastectomy Bra?
- Who Should Consider a Prosthesis and/or Post-Mastectomy Bra?
- When Can Women Begin Wearing Prostheses?
- What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Wearing a Prosthesis?
- Is a Prescription Necessary in Order to Purchase a Prosthesis or Post-Mastectomy Bra?
- How Much Do Prostheses and Post-Mastectomy Bras Cost?
- Will Insurance Providers Cover the Cost of a Prosthesis or Post-Mastectomy Bra?
- Additional Resources and References
The main benefit of wearing a breast prosthesis (versus nothing) is that a weighted prosthesis can help balance the body and anchor the bra, preventing back or neck pain, shoulder sagging, or having a bra "ride up" in the back. Some women find that their prosthesis feels heavy at first since they are not used to wearing it. However, in time, most women feel comfortable with their prosthesis. Breast prostheses can also help protect the chest area and mastectomy scars.
While breast prostheses can provide physical and emotional benefits after breast cancer surgery, some women do not feel satisfied wearing breast forms. For these women, surgical breast reconstruction is a more appropriate decision. Most women who undergo breast cancer surgery are candidates for reconstructive surgery, either during the same surgery as the breast is removed or at a later date. The two main types of reconstructive surgeries are implant insertion and muscle flap reconstruction (the latter involves using the patients own tissue from another area of the body to reconstruct the breast). Click here to lean more about breast reconstruction.
While not required, it is highly recommended that breast cancer patients have their physicians write a prescription for a breast prosthesis and post-mastectomy bra. Many insurance companies will cover some or all of the costs for these products if they are prescribed by a physician. Patients should check with their insurance providers for details about the coverage. It is also important for the physician to specify how many prostheses are necessary and how often they should be replaced. For example, Medicare will cover the cost of a new breast prosthesis every two years and two post-mastectomy bras every six months (see the section Will Insurance Providers Cover the Cost of a Prosthesis or Post-Mastectomy Bra? for more information).
Taking a sufficient amount of time to consider the different types of breast prostheses is important. The prices of prostheses vary significantly and a higher priced prosthesis may not be the most comfortable one. The following are approximate prices of breast prostheses and post-mastectomy bras.
|Product Type||Price Range|
Equalizers and Enhancers
Source: Rhonda Fleming Mann Resource Center for Women with Cancer
Many insurance companies will cover the cost of a limited number of breast prostheses and post-mastectomy bras if they have been prescribed by a physician. In some cases, additional paperwork or procedures need to be followed to ensure coverage. Breast cancer patients who wish to wear prostheses and/or post-mastectomy bras should contact their insurance providers prior to purchasing these items to determine whether they are covered and what needs to be done to ensure coverage. Since the prices of prostheses and post-mastectomy bras vary significantly depending on the style, type, etc., patients should also determine whether their insurance provider has set a "price limit" for these items.
In some instances, women will need to purchase the prosthesis and post-mastectomy bras themselves and turn in the appropriate paperwork to their insurance providers to receive partial or total reimbursement. Other times, the manufacturer or shop where the items are purchased will bill the patients insurance company directly. Again, these matters should be worked out with the insurance company prior to making a purchase. Some insurance companies may require patients to order products from a specific manufacturer or shop.
It is also important for women to ask their physicians to note how often the prosthesis will need to be replaced. On average, prostheses need to be replaced every one to two years and additional post-mastectomy bras need to be purchased every three months to a year. For example, breast cancer patients on Medicare receive coverage for one new prosthesis every two years and two post-mastectomy bras every six months.
Click here to view the directory of breast prosthesis manufacturers and shops.
- The American Cancer Society provides information on breast prostheses at http://www.cancer.org/
- The Ted Mann Family Resource Center is a nonprofit organization who works in conjunction with the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California at Los Angeles. The organizations provides information on breast prostheses and post-mastectomy bras at http://cancerresources.mednet.ucla.edu/
Updated: January 31, 2008