Reconstruction surgery techniques after a mastectomy have improved over the years, but 37 percent of women opt of this option according to recent studies.

Some women simply choose to live without a breast, or even the appearance of a breast. However, many others turn to breast forms also known as prosthetic breasts or external breast prostheses.

Breast forms may allow your clothes to fit appropriately and give the wearer confidence in their appearance.

Why Choose Breast Forms Over Surgery?

Every woman has a personal reason, or many, for deciding to forego breast reconstruction. Age may play a large factor in this decision. Many older women simply decide not to, that it’s not important to them. If a patient has a serious heart condition or other medical issues, she may decide she doesn’t want to undergo another surgery after the mastectomy, unwilling to face the risk that another surgery carries.

Types of Breast Forms

Among the types of breast forms are:

  • Silicone forms, worn externally.
  • Nonsilicone forms, made of foam or fiberfill, designed to be worn right after a mastectomy or during workouts or hot weather.
  • Attachable breast forms, designed to be fastened to the chest wall by using adhesive strips.
  • Soft camisoles with breast forms for wearing right after a mastectomy, while healing is in progress. The form is placed into a pocket in the camisole.

Costs, Insurance for Breast Forms

The prices vary greatly, with some fiberfill forms costing as little as $10, foam forms costing about $30 to $70 or more, and weighted silicone forms often costing around $175 or more.

You may also want a mastectomy bra or you may want pockets sewn into clothes so the form can be slipped in.

In general, Medicare and some insurance plans cover the cost of the bra and form provided you have a prescription from your doctor. However, plans typically limit the coverage, paying only for a certain number of forms and bras within a specified time. Check before you shop.

Before buying, ask about the form’s life expectancy. Be sure you know how to wash it and how often.