What are Prosthetic Breasts?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

When a part of the body is missing, the artificial replacement used is called a prosthetic. Many people find it extremely beneficial to use a prosthetic since it may restore function and balance, and in appearance, it gives a look of symmetry to the body. This is especially true for women when they have lost all or part of a breast due to mastectomy or lumpectomy. Getting prosthetic breasts (or a single one) and a prosthetic breast bra can prove helpful in balancing weight evenly on the shoulders and providing a symmetrical appearance. Women who have a total mastectomy may, prior to reconstructive surgery or in lieu of it, use prosthetic breasts on both sides, so that the clothes they wore before the mastectomy still fit well.

Women who have a total mastectomy may use prosthetic breasts on both sides.
Women who have a total mastectomy may use prosthetic breasts on both sides.

Prosthetic breasts come in different materials, typically silicone or foam, and they come in many sizes. They’re often pricey, but women who have insurance may get some insurance coverage to pay for prosthetics. Getting coverage may require going to a specialized store that sells prosthetics, but some women can simply go to a full service lingerie store, such as a Nordstrom’s and purchase them. It’s actually recommended that people use a certified prosthetics fitter, in order to achieve the best look and balance.

Another thing women will need to purchase is prosthetic bras, and there are products like prosthetic swimsuits that can come in handy. Instead of just placing the prosthesis in a bra, where it may slip, prosthetic bras have a handy pocket into which the breast can be placed. Many of them are attractive bras too, which can make a big difference in body image and feelings about a mastectomy.

Sometimes prosthetic breasts aren’t full like a real breast, but instead provide a shape that can cover changes to the breast due to surgery. A large lumpectomy may cause a breast to look misshapen. A small prosthetic may be used to hide great difference in size or shape between the two breasts.

Though prosthetic breasts may give more of a natural look to the breasts, some people find their weight disturbing because it is not exactly the same from side to side. Silicone breasts for instance can feel heavy, and unlike an attached breast, all of the weight of the prosthetic is carried on the shoulder. Still the feeling of one side not carrying any breast weight may be just as uncomfortable. Being able to try on lots of different types of prosthesis for is useful in trying to determine which prosthetic breasts are most like the real thing.

It might be tempting to purchase prosthetic breasts online, but it’s highly recommended people don’t do this. If prices are truly cheaper, get fitted first, and then order online. It’s impossible to guess the feel, weight, and fit of a breast until it’s been tried, and though online stores may have good return policies, this means doing without during a trial and error period. On the other hand, those women looking to replace a worn prosthetic breast could easily do so on line if they remember the size and brand they had.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


My mom has a prosthetic breast. She keeps it in a drawer in the bathroom. My husband was looking for something in the house once and came across it and freaked out when I told him what it was. Both my mom and I thought it was hilarious and gave him the business about freaking out over a bag of flesh colored silicone. He still did, though.

My mom said she tried several models and brands of prostheses before settling on the one she has, because it felt the most natural and it didn't bother her to wear her bra all day.


I don't know of any reputable insurance company that doesn't pay for breast prostheses. That's just kind of a given. Also, when a woman goes to a local business for this kind of fitting, she usually receives sympathetic, individual attention, frequently from a woman who has also had a mastectomy.

Since prosthetic breasts come in many different sizes and even weights, a woman can almost always find one that's a pretty close match for her other breast, so the weirdness isn't quite so pronounced. Also, most mastectomy bras have a lot of support, to help support the breast and the prosthetic comfortably. It's not just a form safety-pinned into a bra any longer.

Post your comments
Forgot password?