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My mastectomy surgery

Breast prostheses, reconstruction and healing

A breast prosthesis is designed to be the same shape as a natural breast. It can be used after a mastectomy to replace the shape of the breast that was removed. It looks like a natural breast when worn under clothing. Deciding to wear a prosthesis is a personal choice.

What is a temporary prosthesis?

  • A temporary prosthesis is a soft, lightweight foam-filled breast form usually worn within a bra.
  • It can be worn anytime after surgery.
  • Temporary prostheses are available free of charge from the Canadian Cancer Society’s Peer Support Program. Call 1-888-939-3333 to have a prosthesis mailed to you. You will need to provide your bra’s cup size.

What is a permanent prosthesis?

  • A permanent prosthesis is a breast form usually made of silicone that is meant to look and weigh like a natural breast.
  • It is worn inside a mastectomy bra that has a pocket to hold the prosthesis in place.
  • Wearing a permanent prosthesis can help prevent back and neck pain and problems with posture for women who have had a breast removed.
  • This type of prosthesis needs to be specially fitted by a “fitter.” Nurses in the Breast Centre can provide you with a list of fitters.
  • Permanent prostheses are available from mastectomy boutiques and certain surgical supply stores, bra stores and department stores.
  • Wait until at least 6 weeks after surgery before you go for your final fitting for the prosthesis.
  • A permanent prosthesis can cost between $350 and $500.
  • The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care’s Assistive Devices Program (ADP) can provide a grant to help pay for a portion of the cost.
  • If you have private health insurance, ask if your policy helps cover the cost of a permanent prosthesis or a mastectomy bra.

What is a custom breast prosthesis?

  • A custom-made breast prosthesis is an alternative to permanent prosthesis.
  • A cast of your breast and nipple is taken before surgery. From this cast, a lightweight prosthesis is made to fit closely against your chest wall after surgery.
  • A custom prosthesis may cost approximately $5,000.

What about breast reconstruction?

  • Breast reconstruction is done by a plastic surgeon and may be performed following breast cancer surgery.
  • Breast reconstruction is covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). You do not have to pay for it.
  • Breast reconstruction should be discussed with your surgeon, oncologist, nurse, or health care provider.
  • For more information about breast reconstruction:

How can I help the scar to heal?

  • Scar massage helps to get rid of the sensitivity, tightness, and itchiness around the scar area.
  • Scar massage also helps to soften and loosen the scar area so that you can move your shoulder better.
  • You may begin scar massage 4 to 6 weeks following surgery after the incision has healed.
  • Scar massage should be done for 2 to 3 minutes 2 to 3 times a day.

How do I do scar massage?

  • Put 2 fingers or your thumb pad on the scar area.
  • Move your fingers in an up and down zigzag pattern one way across the scar area and then move your fingers in circles the other way across the scar area.

Scar massage


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