Types of Breast Forms
Some well-known breast form manufacturers include American Breast Care, Amoena, Anita, Trulife, and Nearly Me. These and other manufacturers offer a large number of options. There are three main types of breast forms.
Leisure breast forms
A leisure breast form is any breast form that isn’t made of silicone. These forms are usually made of foam, fiberfill, polyester fiberfill, or even beaded materials encased inside a cloth shell. You can slip leisure forms inside a pocketed mastectomy bra. These breast forms can be weighted or unweighted. Some leisure forms are made from material that doesn’t absorb water so you can wear them while swimming.
Leisure forms tend to be lighter, cooler, and more comfortable than silicone breast forms but don’t feel as realistic. You can hand-wash leisure forms and let them air-dry.
Generally, it’s a good idea to replace non-silicone leisure forms about every six months. Leisure forms generally cost from under $50 to $100.
Silicone breast forms
Silicone breast forms are designed to look and feel like a breast. Silicone forms used to be made of solid silicone — so they were heavy and could be uncomfortable to wear in hot weather. Newer versions have pockets of air that make them lighter and more comfortable to wear. Still, even newer silicone breast forms come in varying weights so you can pick one that matches your other breast. When your breast form matches your breast’s size and weight, it helps prevent straining and pain in the back muscles.
You can wear a silicone form inside a pocketed bra. Some silicone forms also have adhesive backings so you can wear them directly on your chest (also called a contact prosthesis).
Adhesive backings have improved over the years. Many newer silicone forms have ridges or channels on the back that make the breast forms more comfortable to wear — even in hot weather. Some silicone breast forms also contain materials that are specially designed to draw heat away from the skin. There’s even a version that comes with a small air pump you can use to help press the backing more firmly against your chest wall for a better fit. But it’s important to wait until your surgical scars have healed and your skin has healed from any radiation side effects (if you’ve had radiation) before using a silicone form with adhesive backing.
Off-the-shelf silicone breast forms come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, weights, and skin tones. There are also different styles and colors for the nipple and areola. All silicone breast forms can be worn in the swimming pool, ocean, or Jacuzzi. But some are specially designed swim forms that are lighter and may be a lot more comfortable to wear when you’re swimming.
Although some silicone forms are meant to be worn as a pair, others are designed to go on either the right or left side. Generally, it’s a good idea to replace silicone form about every one to two years. Off-the-shelf silicone breast forms range from $100 to $500. Versions with adhesive backing tend to be more expensive.
Custom-made breast forms
Even when you go flat after mastectomy or implant removal, there can be bumps, ridges, and indentations on the chest afterward. Custom-made breast forms are made of silicone and can be specifically designed to match:
the contour of your chest wall, regardless of bumps, ridges, or indentations
the size, shape, and weight of your remaining breast to restore your symmetry
You can also choose the skin tone as well as the shape and color of your nipple and areola. The silicone breast form has a tacky surface that helps it stay in place when you wear a bra. Many women say the custom-made silicone breast form fits the chest like a puzzle piece. A custom breast form is more likely to mimic the slope of a natural breast. It’s also easier to match the size, shape, and weight of the remaining breast with a custom-made breast form.
If you need help choosing a custom-made silicone breast form, a certified mastectomy fitter can show you many of the different options that are available.
Generally, it’s a good idea to replace custom-made silicone breast forms every few years. Prices for custom-made silicone breast forms are more expensive than off-the-shelf silicone breast forms and leisure forms and vary by manufacturer.
Written by: Kristine Conner, contributing writer
— Last updated on July 29, 2022, 2:50 PM