What is a Breast Form?

A breast form is a prosthesis worn either inside a bra or attached to the body to simulate the weight, bounce, feel, movement, and especially shape of the natural female breast. Depending on the material or shape used, these qualities can be achieved to different degrees. Modern silicone breast forms are designed by computers and can even be attached to the chest. Attachable breast forms can be worn with strapless dresses and lingerie

What are the materials used in most breast forms?

The predominant material used in the more expensive breast forms is silicone gel inside a very thin, slick plastic shell with tapered edges. Other materials such as foam (Can-Care immediate post-op form) and fiber are also used, especially for immediate post-mastectomy breast forms. Only silicone breast forms can give the weight, feel, and movement like a natural breast. Silicone can also be colored to match skin color and can warm to body temperature, which makes it very comfortable to wear. Medical-grade silicone is however more expensive than any other materials, but definitely worth it's cost.

Why should I wear a silicone weighted breast form?

A properly fitted weighted breast prosthesis helps replace the weight lost after breast surgery. This replacement is not merely for cosmetic but for physical reasons as well. Weighted silicone breast forms are designed to resemble the natural breast in terms of weight, appearance and texture. When a natural breast is removed the body is no longer in balance and will compensate with slight curving of the spine and "shoulder drop." Both conditions may lead to chronic lower back and neck pain. It is very important to wear a weighted breast form because it will restore the body’s natural balance and help prevent the development of spinal curvature, neck and back pain and shoulder droop. Psychologically, wearing a breast form also helps restore a woman’s self –confidence and can improve the quality of life after breast surgery.

How soon can I be fitted for a prosthetic breast form after breast surgery?

Soon after surgery, a woman can be fitted with a temporary form or fiber-filled breast form, usually while she is still in hospital. A temporary breast form restores shape, but is lightweight and will not cause irritation to sensitive skin tissue. Six to eight weeks after surgery, a woman can generally be fitted with a permanent weighted silicone breast form, which more closely meets her long-term requirements. 

Are there different styles of breast forms?

Breast forms come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You can choose from triangle, tear drop shaped, or asymmetrical. Symmetrical can be turned to fit either side of the body. Asymmetrical fits only the right or left side. Can-Care’s professional fitters will measure you and allow you to try on several different types before you decide which one looks and feels best.

Can people tell I am wearing a breast form?

Silicone breast forms move very much like a natural breast and adapt to the natural temperature of the body. With a properly shaped, sized and fitted breast form, no one should be able to tell you are wearing it. The type of bra and clothing worn can affect "being read" to some degree, of course, but today's breast forms are remarkably realistic and can be matched fairly closely to many people's skin tone and natural breast shape.

How do I determine my Bra Size?

  1. Measure lightly around the body directly underneath the breast. Add 4 or 5 inches to determine the bra size. 
  2. Obtain measurement around the chest at the fullest part of the bust-line (nipple). Difference between measurement taken from the fullest part & bra size determines the cup size 
  3. If the body's circumference measures 40 inches or more, add 1-2 inches to get even number. The larger the measurement, the fewer additional inches need to be added.

How do I determine my Cup Size?

The difference between the measurement taken from the fullest part and bra size determines the cup size (See Chart Below).

Bra Cup size
DifferenceCup Size
Zero/Half inchAA cup
One inchA cup
Two inchesB cup
Three inchesC cup
Four inchesD cup
Five inchesDD or E cup
Six inchesF cup

How do I care for my breast form and how long will it last?

Treated carefully, a breast form is very durable. Care should be taken with sharp objects to prevent the outer film of the breast form from being punctured or damaged. A breast form should be cleaned with warm water and mild soap, and dried gently after use. When not in use, the breast form should be stored in its cradle in the box it came in, to help maintain the shape of the form and prevent accidental damage. 

American Breast Care breast forms are covered under a two year warranty.

Are there lighter weight breast forms?

Yes - breast forms are now available 30% - 50% lighter in weight to accommodate a variety of needs. The American Breast Care lightweight and ultra-light weight range of breast forms are lighter in weight to accommodate your individual needs. Can-Care professional fitters will measure and allow you to try on several different shapes, sizes and weights before you decide which breast form meets your needs.

Can I wear a silicone breast form while swimming?

Silicone breast forms will normally not be damaged by chlorine or salt water and can be worn in the swimming pool, ocean or Jacuzzi. After use the silicone breast form should be cleaned and dried gently.

Why should I go to a professional fitter?

Every woman is different. There are hundreds of sizes, styles and shapes of breast forms that have been created to match a woman's remaining natural breast. Can-Care’s certified professional fitters are trained to measure and select the appropriate prosthesis for each individual woman.

If I am very small breasted or had partial surgery such as a lumpectomy, do I still need a weighted breast prosthesis?

Yes. Even if you are small breasted or had a partial surgery, you should still replace the weight. You will also need the weight to help hold your bra in place around the rib cage. A light non-weighted form adds shaping in a bra but may slip up during certain movements.

Breast Screening FAQ

I’ve already had my breasts examined during the whole body check-up/ gynaecological check-up. Does it mean that I don’t need a Breast Screening Programme then?

An effective and comprehensive breast health check-up exercise should include Self-Breast Examination, Clinical Breast Examination and Mammography Screening. A general body check-up or gynaecological check-up package may not necessarily include these three modalities. To safeguard breast health and protect yourself from the threats of breast cancer, the best way is to start your regular Breast Screening Programme as we recommend.

How does the mammography screening work? 

During the process, you will have to expose your upper body and stand in front of a mammography screening machine. The female radiographer will help put your breast on a platform with an X-ray negative. Plastic sheets will move downwards and horizontally to press the breast so that an X-ray radiograph of the breast tissues can be taken. You might feel uncomfortable for a few seconds when the pressure is applied. One breast is done at a time, allowing two different views of radiograph for each breast. This constitutes a comprehensive examination. 

The radiographer needs to confirm that the X-ray radiographs clearly show the breast tissues, and sometimes more images need to be taken. A report is written by a radiologist. If the X-ray radiographs show any tumours or abnormal images, the doctor will follow up.

Is mammography screening safe?

As an internationally recognised tool for detecting breast cancer, the mammogram can detect abnormalities which cannot be seen by the eye or felt by the hand. The benefits of saving a life by early detection are much greater than the risks of radiation. In fact, the radiation risk is very low, with a dose of about 0.36 millisieverts per test, which is equivalent to one-eighth of the radiation absorbed annually from natural background radiation, or the radiation exposure from four round trip flights between Hong Kong and London. (Sources: Radiation Health Unit of the Department of Health)

Why do women over 40 need mammography screening every two years? 

The incidence rate of breast cancer increases among women aged over 40. Research has proven that screening can reduce the breast cancer mortality by 20 to 30 percent, due to early detection and treatment.

Can ultrasound imaging substitute for mammography screening?

No. The principles and functions of the two imaging methods are different. They cannot replace each other but are mutually complementary. 

Ultrasound imaging transmits high-frequency sound waves to the breast tissues through an apparatus, and then converts the feedback from the sound waves into an image. Ultrasound can distinguish between a substantial tumour and a cyst, but only mammography screening can detect a tumour which has not yet fully developed, and only a mammogram can detect cancerous cells in the micro-calcification.

When is an ultrasound imaging needed?

The image of dense tissues may sometimes be unclear in a mammogram. A doctor generally uses ultrasound imaging to examine the breasts of younger women under the age of 40, whose breast tissue is generally higher in density. 

Ultrasound imaging does not release radiation. It is suitable for pregnant women. It can act as a diagnostic tool 

  • If a mass is detected in a breast through palpation, but no images are shown in the mammogram, the doctor will use ultrasound imaging.
  • If a mass is detected in a mammogram, the doctor may use ultrasound imaging to determine whether the mass is a hard substance or a cyst.
  • During extraction of tissue from a mass for tests, the doctor sometimes uses ultrasound imaging as a tool to identify the location.

If micro-calcification or a lump is found inside the breast on a mammograph or in ultrasound screening, what should I do?

If a lump is found inside the breast through the mammogram or ultrasound screening, the doctor will extract samples of cells from the lump for diagnosis. If the results show that the tumour is malignant, the doctor will conduct further tests to identify the stage of breast cancer and will suggest appropriate treatment options. If the mass is benign, the doctor will propose follow-up actions or treatments. 

How to diagnose?

The doctor will conduct triple assessment: 

  1. Clinical examination: physical examination of the breasts
  2. Imaging examination: breast ultrasound 
  3. Biopsy: fine needle biopsy (FNA) or core needle biopsy (CNB) 

Tips:  All the above are internationally standardised diagnostic methods which will not affect the spread of breast cancer

Myths about breast cancer

Myth 1: Young women do not get breast cancer.

Fact: There are more young women affected by breast cancer in recent years. Among all breast cancer patients, 60% are women aged between 40 and 59, 9% are under 40 years old; the youngest patient is under 20.

Myth 2: Women do not get breast cancer after menopause.

Fact: The risk of getting breast cancer increases as a woman ages, the older the age, the higher the risk, regardless of the menopausal status. More than 30% of local breast cancer patients are aged 60 or above. 

Myth 3: It is safe to undergo a long period of hormonal therapy after menopause?

Fact: Studies have shown that long-term hormonal therapy for post-menopause women may increase higher breast cancer risk. Women after menopause should consult their doctor for an assessment of breast cancer risk before taking hormonal therapy.

Myth 4: Breast cancer means hopelessness.

Fact: Breast cancer is curable. If a patient detects breast cancer before it has spread, the chance of survival could be as high as 70%. If detected at stage 0 (i.e. carcinoma in situ), the recovery rate at ten years is 98%.

Myth 5: Breast cancer is a hereditary disease; my risk is low if I don’t have a family history of the disease.

Fact: Breast cancer can be triggered by environmental factors such as lifestyle and dietary habits. The majority of breast cancer cases are not hereditary. Less than 15% of local breast cancer patients have a family history, and about 5% of them carry the breast cancer gene. 

Myth 6: Oral contraceptive pills will cause breast cancer.

Fact: There is no conclusive evidence to date. Currently oral contraceptive pills contain less oestrogen and progesterone than they used to and therefore are unlikely to trigger breast cancer. If you have taken oral contraceptive pills for a long period of time, you should consult your doctor and do regular check-ups. 

Myth 7: Antiperspirants can cause breast cancer.

Fact: There has been no scientific evidence substantiating a link between breast cancer and antiperspirants.

Myth 8: Women with larger breasts have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Fact: Breast cancer risk has nothing to do with breast size. According to the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Registry Report No. 4, some 50% of local patients were with bra size of 34 inches or over; some 60% of them had either cup A or B.

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