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All TopicsForum: Living Without Reconstruction After a Mastectomy → Topic: Does anyone like wearing a prosthetic bra?

Topic: Does anyone like wearing a prosthetic bra?

Forum: Living Without Reconstruction After a Mastectomy — Discuss prostheses, swimsuits, bras, and other options for women not having reconstruction or waiting for reconstruction.

Posted on: Apr 16, 2011 11:52AM

Faithroad wrote:

I posted this on another thread but then they directed me here. (I'm new here and still stumbling around the site.)

So, ok yes, I'm serious.  Does anyone like their prosthetic bras?
I,m deciding to take out my implants but want to find out what ladies think of the prosthetic bras.  I hear most ladies say they don't use them and just go flat.  I think I'm too chubby for that.  my tummy would stick out.  and I work full-time in an office and need a little shape up there.

My implants are four months old and I already regret putting them in.  They are too big, heavy, sore, tight, and different sizes.  (Bad PS, I'll spare you the details) I've heard bras are heavy and hot.  But at least you can take them off at night whereas I can't take my implants off at night.  I could be the same size on each side and that would be a plus.  I'm also in a situation where due to financial changes I need to find the lowest maintenance way of handlling the DMX. Implants require further operations and money down the road when they wear out. 

So are the bras so terrible?
I want to hear good things about them, but also need to know the truth.

What are the pros and cons?

Any surprises about them, good or bad?

Anythng I should ask the PS before hand?

Are there a lot of extra scars when you are deconstructed?

Can they still tighten up the loose skin or is it too late for that?

Any adivice?

I had the implants put in without any information about what I was getting into.  It all just happened so fast. I was niave and uninformed of my options. So this time, since I found this website I'm asking around, though I hope I'm not becoming a pest..
I'm so desparate for information, I'm grateful to anyone who replies. Thank you in advance.

Gently and gratefully, 


Bilateral BC, Ductoal & Lobular, Stage I and II. Dx 9/2010, Stage IIB, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 16, 2011 12:12PM starbeauty wrote:

Faithroad... no they are not terrible... go to a store that specializes in fitting us... and try on as many as it takes to find a good one.  Then... if this works for you - keep your current bras... get some micro beads - make a couple of bead bags to put into your old bras when you don't feel like wearing the heavier prosthesis.  I was a 36DD - and I only had a right MX.  So I can't go flat - I still have one side at 36DD... a tad conspicuous.  :) The bag weighs 1 pound less than the prosthesis - and sometimes it is all I am in the mood for.  I had no recon... I wanted it... but was told no implants due to burned skin of rads - had to have a flap if I wanted recon and needed to wait awhile for that... probably a good thing to wait - now I read all the trials some women go through to get a "foob" and I'm just glad I am done with those MDs at least.  Hope that helps.

Dx 12/16/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 3/23 nodes, ER+, HER2-
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Apr 16, 2011 12:19PM Faithroad wrote:

Thank you Starbeauty,

What are microbeads?  Where do you get them?

Bilateral BC, Ductoal & Lobular, Stage I and II. Dx 9/2010, Stage IIB, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 16, 2011 12:24PM rosiemills wrote:

I had a double mastectomy in January and just got my prostheses a few weeks ago.  I too was concerned that they would be uncomfortable, but I have found just the opposite.  Having a little weight where my breasts were feels very natural, and they are totally soft against my chest wall.  They look and feel completely real - no one would ever know.  I got very simple bras with pockets for the prostheses, and they too are comfortable and attractive.  I actually forget that I'm even wearing them most of the time and often don't bother to remove them even when I'm home alone!  I do agree with starbeauty that it's a good idea to go to a place that specializes in this and will give you some 1:1 attention.  Good luck! 

Dx 11/2010, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Apr 16, 2011 12:28PM starbeauty wrote:

Faithroad... just tiny little clear beads... you can pour them into a form and then drop it in your bra.   I know that there are soft beads out there too - a lot of times they will fill kids pillows with them. Next time I make a new foob - I'm going to hunt those up cuz my microbeads are kind of hard to the touch - and I wonder if someone hugs me if they can feel the difference.

 I liked my old bras - so this was kind of an important thing for me to get back.  I bought my beads for $4 at Walmart - made two forms with them.  Somewhere on this site another woman goes through all the steps of making your own low cost "foob".  It took me 20 minutes. Laughing

Dx 12/16/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 3/23 nodes, ER+, HER2-
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Apr 16, 2011 12:28PM lauralu wrote:

Hello faith road

Sorry to hear about your are thinking about having your implants removed.. I am in the same situation and am seeing a PS on the 26.. I know what you meant about being uninformed and naive. I felt just plain supified through the whole process.I will also be looking for good info on prothese and bras of course. There seems to be lots of info here. Erica/ Barbara has a Webb site called Breast Free you may have already seen it. There is lots of info there as well.

 I am beside my self about making the decision to deconstruct.



I am sure you will get lots of good advise here

Dx 8/8/2006, DCIS, Stage 0, 0/0 nodes, HER2-
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Apr 16, 2011 12:33PM - edited Apr 16, 2011 12:39PM by Erica


First, while many women who choose not to have reconstruction do go flat, I would guess that the big majority wear some kind of prosthesis (breast form), either in a mastectomy bra with pockets or a regular bra. Breast forms have come a long way in the past few years and so have mastectomy bras. Forms come in a variety of materials, including silicone, foam, and microbeads. Some are very lightweight (even some silicone are as little as 3 ounces); some are virtually weightless (foam and microbeads, for example). 

In 2007, a year after my bilateral mastectomy, I decided to create a non-profit website for women who wanted information, advice, and support about choosing not to reconstruct. It's called BreastFree.org. If you visit the site, I think you'll find the answers to many of your questions, plus personal stories and photographs of what women look like after surgery. Two of the stories (Susan's Story and Joan's Story) are by women who had implants removed.

From what I've heard, after having implants pressing against your ribcage, you might be a little concave. However, with breast forms it would never be noticeable in clothes. Regarding extra skin and scars, I would ask your PS to make the end result as cosmetically pleasing as possible, which would include making your chest flat and smooth. 

At BreastFree.org, in the Bras and Camisoles section, I recommend mastectomy bras that I and other women like. There are links to photographs of the various bras and I think you'll find that they're attractive and a lot like regular bras. I myself wear breast forms both in mastectomy bras and in regular bras. I have silicone forms with microfiber fabric on the back, so I can wear them comfortably directly against my skin. Bras and breast forms are covered by insurance and most policies allow for replacement every one or two years.

I think a lot of breast surgeons and other doctors aren't aware of the many options available to women who choose not to have reconstruction after a mastectomy. So they steer them immediately to a plastic surgeon. If you have your implants removed, you don't have to be weighted down with a heavy prosthesis and you don't have to wear an iron maiden bra. But sometimes it does take a bit of trial and error before you find what works for you.

Best of luck. 


Edited to say thanks to Laura for mentioning BreastFree.org. 

BreastFree.org (breastfree.org); BreastFree Blog (breastfree.blogspot.com); Twitter @BreastFree
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Apr 16, 2011 12:41PM starbeauty wrote:

Thanks Erica for posting this up for all of us - do you know where I can find a swim suit that is quite high along the neckline... my chest caves in "early" on the right side.

Dx 12/16/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 3/23 nodes, ER+, HER2-
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Apr 16, 2011 01:45PM NancyNJ wrote:

I don't have a problem with them at all and as time goes on I have found better and prettier ones. Just recently I found 18Hour bras with pockets at a Hanes factorty store and they are really pretty!!

Dx 12/1/2008, DCIS, 2cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Apr 16, 2011 01:45PM Kezzie62 wrote:

I have just been fitted for my prosthetics and bras.  I went to a special fitter who was recommended by my BS, I took my Mom along with me as I wanted a unbiast opinion as to how everything looked.

I was very plesantly suprised how nice the bras are and the range available.  I was able to pick what size I wanted to be, I used to be a 42 DD but I wanted to be smaller so we tried diffrent sizes until I found the size that I feel is good for me, so I am now going to be a 42 B+.  I too am a bit chubby and hated that my tummy looked like I was 7 month pregnant but with the prosthetics I know look just like before the BMX but a bit smaller.

I left 2 hours later with my prothetics and 2 white lacy bras 1 skin tone satin bra, 1 white excersize bra and 1 back lacy bra. My insurance has cover the cost in full, I also bought a takini swim suit so I can swim this summer. Both my Mom and myself were very please with the service and styles that I was able to choose from.


03/10 ADH, 09/10 DCIS, 02/11 IDC Stage IIa, Grade 3 03/18/11 BMX + SNB, 05/12/11 Stage IV Bone & Brain Mets. Dx 2/23/2011, IDC, 2cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 4/22 nodes, mets, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Apr 16, 2011 04:30PM - edited Apr 16, 2011 04:37PM by Faithroad

All of you, Thank you soooo much!  

I think I was just freaking out a little bit this morning when I first posted.  My emotions seem to all over the place lately.  Erica, I'll check out your website too.  Before this site I'd only heard people complain about prosthetic bras.  I feel much more encouraged about things and at peace with my decision now.  Most of you said to start with a professional fitter.  There is one in town I could go to.  They sell ABC bras and inserts.  My insurance should cover things until next year in July. After that it changes and I don't know what I'll have for deductable and coverage.  But I'll work it out when the changes come. 

 I see my PS May 2.  She is just out of school, she won't be board certified until Fall.  But she should be able to handle this right?  She is the only other option in my HMO.   

 I'll try to be more of an encourager here and follow your examples to me.  I appreciate the consideration, kindness and information you have all shared with me here at this website.  I'll continue to browse and learn from all the other conversations..  

 If any of you pray, please pray for my mom.  She will be having her lungs scanned and possilby biopsied for lymphoma at the end of the month. She is worried.  I'm praying nothing will show up and it will be a false alarm.   

Thank you for everything. Embarassed

Bilateral BC, Ductoal & Lobular, Stage I and II. Dx 9/2010, Stage IIB, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 16, 2011 09:19PM TokyoSing wrote:

Faithroad, will keep your mom in my prayers.  My husband also had a false alarm for lymphoma.

I like my prosthesis. I wear Amoena, Nicola Jane and Anita mastectomy bras.  I had a single mastectomy in Feb 2010 and was fitted with a silicone form 5 weeks later.  I really recommend Erica's website. It has so much useful info.  I also have a microbead form I use with my sport bras.  The one I like most is a Silique light weight form which is made of a silicone front ( for a realistic shape), microbeads in the middle and a microfiber back where it comes in contact with our skin. I am a size 5 (36B) so the Silique form fits into regular tank tops like Lululemon and and in Japan, Muji tanks.

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Apr 17, 2011 05:01AM caaclark wrote:


I had a single mast. in 2006.  I have no regrets at all and have found quite a variety of breast forms and bras that work very well.  Many of the mast. bras are even pretty/cute.  Amoena, Nicola Jane and Anita are also my personal favorites.  The ABC bras are great too.  Additionally, the breast forms I have are the traditional put in the pocket of a bra type, as well as some that you can stick directly onto the chest.

I agree with the others-check out Erica's website.  It will give you great info.

Carol Clark- Author of WHEN OUR MOM HAD CANCER Diag.1/06 at age 40, 1.6cm, 6+nodes, stage IIIa, er/pr+, her2-, chemo, mast. rads, no recon
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Apr 17, 2011 05:16AM - edited Apr 17, 2011 05:17AM by mumito

I am a size 16 and had a BMX I versy seldom wear my bra because I enjoy the f freedom.I wear looser tops the pretty linen smock like tops are everywhere this spring.I am going to be living in them.I did find a strapless bra with po ckets at winners which I have filled with the microbead forms which I use for dressier ocassions or tighter fitting tops.

Dx 4/23/2008, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/15 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Apr 17, 2011 07:28AM KerryMac wrote:

I just put my prothesis in a regular bra. It just sits against my skin, it doesn't have adhesive. I get fitted at an upmarket Bra Store (it is just a regular bra store, not a 'special' one) and they have been very understanding, and let me try on different shapes, as not everything works.

So, I have bras just like I would have had before; some practical, some lacy and sexy.  And to be totally honest, I forget one side is a prothesis! You would never know to look at me which side is real and which isn't.

For swimming, i got a "cookie" sewn in my Mx side to make it look like I have some shape there. Again, this is into a regular swimsuit. It has spaghetti straps, certainly not a heafty cover-up. Again, although I notice a bit of lesser clevage on that side, I don't think a casual observer would know.

So, there really are loads of options for you!

Kerry - Dx Oct 2008, Stage IIIa IDC, ER/PR+ Mx, Chemo, Rads, Ooph, Arimidex, Zometa, Tamoxifen
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Apr 17, 2011 09:25AM carol1949 wrote:

Kerry mac,  Please tell me what a "cookie" is.

Dx 4/4/2008, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIIB, ER+, HER2-
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Apr 17, 2011 10:15AM Celtic_Spirit wrote:

I've been wearing prosthetics for three years now. Prior to bc, I had large, cumbersome breasts. Really, I wasn't unhappy to see those bad boys go. I find the prosthetics and bras very comfortable. It's like wearing a watch...I'm only aware of them when I consciously think about them. I wear them while hiking, playing racquetball, and working out at the gym. They are so much more proportional to my size and comfortable than what was naturally mine!

I didn't have any type of reconstruction, so I can't help you out there. Sometimes I think reconstruction might be nice, but more and more I'm leaning away from it.

Dx 2/8/2008, IDC, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, 9/30 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 17, 2011 12:29PM Erica wrote:

Hi Starbeauty,

I'm replying to your post above asking about where you can find a swimsuit that's high along the neckline. You're in luck! Many mastectomy suits are constructed high in the front and under the arms to conceal areas that may have been affected by surgery. If you have a mastectomy shop in your area, that might be a good place to start looking. There's a bigger selection online, though. For example, MetroMedicalOnline has lots of Amoena suits and Women's Personal Health Resource has a good selection from several manufacturers. Also, Land's End has a number of mastectomy suits, which are adaptations of their regular suits with higher necklines and pockets. Nowadays, many online sites allow you to return swimsuits. I've had good success ordering online, though I've had to return a few, too.

Occasionally, regular swimsuits have necklines that work and sometimes they even have removable soft cups, so there's a pocket for your breast form. Because removable cups are becoming very popular, I'm hopeful that more and more regular suits will be adaptable as mastectomy suits without the need to sew in a pocket.

Good luck in your search. Some women find mastectomy suits easily. For me, this has been the hardest item to find post-mastectomy. I don't like suits that come up high under my arm, so most mastectomy swimsuits don't work for me. I've had to really search to find styles that fit comfortably and look good. Hopefully, you'll have an easier time.


BreastFree.org (breastfree.org); BreastFree Blog (breastfree.blogspot.com); Twitter @BreastFree
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Apr 17, 2011 12:38PM - edited Apr 19, 2011 02:53PM by nwest125

I took my swimsuits to Norstrom and they sewed in pockets for $15.00 apiece.

IDC 11-1-10 Lumpectomy 11-15-10 reincision/ found ILC 12-16-10 BMX with no reconstrution Dx 9/21/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 17, 2011 01:00PM Faithroad wrote:

You said you see your PS on the 26th.  I see mine on the 25th.  (I mistakenly thought it was May 2, but I was a week off)  Hope things go well at your appointment.  I feel upset about my decision too, but I feel upset about keeping the implants as well.  Gee, I guess that just makes me generally upset huh. I'm crying a lot and don't know if because my hormones are whacked out from the hysterectomy, or if I'm not sure of my decision.  Or it may just be adjusting to all the changes.  We're going to be ok. 

Carol 1949
I don't know what a "cookie" is either.  Unless it has chocolate chips in it!   I read a post where someone said they pinned it in a  regular bra, so I"m guessing it's some sort of light weight foam insert if it's pinnable. I think I will want some of those.  Maybe we can just google them to find out more.  OR maybe Erica's website has some.

Bilateral BC, Ductoal & Lobular, Stage I and II. Dx 9/2010, Stage IIB, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 17, 2011 01:05PM Faithroad wrote:

I'm printing all these replies out so I can refer back to all the brand names, stores, websites, and great ideas

Thank you sooo much for praying for my mom.  You're so sweet.  Everyone at this site is so amazing.

Bilateral BC, Ductoal & Lobular, Stage I and II. Dx 9/2010, Stage IIB, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 17, 2011 05:26PM LiveFreeinNH wrote:

 I am so glad I just found this thread. I will be having a mastectomy on my right breast and am so uninformed about prosthesis. I had no idea that insurance would cover stuff. That is great. I,too, am so torn about recon. I have decided to wait,(if at all) and though I would just be stuffing my bra with tissues or the like. I didn't know that they were "comfortable"or you could forget you have them on!


LiveFreeinNH Dx 1/21/2011, DCIS, Stage 0, ER+/PR+
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Apr 17, 2011 06:56PM Erica wrote:


I think one reason some women opt for immediate reconstruction is that they don't realize that you can look really good and feel very comfortable using prostheses (breast forms) and mastectomy or regular bras. And doctors these days tend to steer their patients toward reconstruction, so many women don't investigate what's out there.

After your surgery, if you go to a shop that sells mastectomy products, don't settle for a breast form that doesn't feel really comfortable to you. Some fitters are wonderful and will really help you match your existing breast, but sometimes fitters have a small selection and don't give you a good choice. I worry that many women ultimately opt for reconstruction more because they never realized that comfortable prostheses and cute bras are available than because they really wanted to go through the additional surgeries recon requires.

Best of luck with your surgery. Come back and tell us how you're doing. We're here to support you.



BreastFree.org (breastfree.org); BreastFree Blog (breastfree.blogspot.com); Twitter @BreastFree
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Apr 18, 2011 04:13AM anneflorida wrote:

I am very happy with my protheses though several people tried telling me that it wouldn't work because of my size.  I wear size 14 clothes but my bra size is 40DD.  After my right sided mastectomy, I opted for no reconstruction.  For me to have reconstruction, my left side would have needed to be reduced and I like my body the way it is even with the masectomy.  I live in Florida and there has been no issue with it being hot and though I was warned that because my protheses is large that I would have shoulder pain that has not been the case.  I look very natural and wear my protheses in my swimming suit also and it does not hinder my swimming.  Overall, I couldn't be happier with my protheses and bras.  I did go to a breast cancer boutique and they were excellent in fitting me and showing me several models.  Good luck.

Dx 12/12/2009, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, 9/28 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 18, 2011 06:01AM Monty wrote:

HI Faithroad,

Please check out a thread called "how do sew a bra pocket" - yes, it does say "how do ...".  The lady on there shows you haw to adapt a regular shop bought bra into a mastectomy bra, it takes maybe 10 mins all in all.  Previously I just put the "form" into the bra and hoped that it stayed there, which it did for the most part although it moved around and if I bent over gardening it would occasionally fall out.  I adapted my bras following the instruction guide and I haven't looked back.  I also buy regular swimsuits and do the same thing although most now come with a built in pocket as someone mentioned.  I am small in comparison to some people at a 34B so I cannot comment on the weight questions as my prosthesis is very light.  My BS and Onc did recommend wearing a form as you need that extra weight you lost through surgery in order to avoid some medical issues associated with have a mastectomy like shoulders rolling forward and balance, and I have to say I think they were right for me anyway. I tried wearing a homemade form for quite a while but did start to notice that I was experiencing shoulder problems, since getting my prosthesis this has diminished.

Good luck in making your decision, for each of us it is a very individual choice.

Dx 5/29/2008, 5cm, Stage IIIB, Grade 3, 5/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Apr 18, 2011 07:05AM Erica wrote:


The current medical advice about the need to wear a breast form to prevent shoulder and back issues is that if you have had a unilateral mastectomy you should wear a form to create balance. It doesn't necessarily have to be as heavy as your natural breast, but some weight is advisable.

For those of us with bilateral mastectomies, no forms are necessary, since we are symmetrical. My posture has actually improved since my B/C cup breasts were removed. Some women, though, prefer replicating the size and weight they had before BMX surgery.

BreastFree.org (breastfree.org); BreastFree Blog (breastfree.blogspot.com); Twitter @BreastFree
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Apr 18, 2011 06:39PM Faithroad wrote:

I will check out the thread that you recommended.
Thank you sooo much!

Do you happen to know how long prosthetics lasts?  A shop in town told me silicone ones last two years.  For the price, I was surprised that they didn't last longer than that.  Is  that true?  I would imagine foam ones don't last as long as that.  How often do these items need replacing? 
Thank you for all the helpful info you have shared!!

Bilateral BC, Ductoal & Lobular, Stage I and II. Dx 9/2010, Stage IIB, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 18, 2011 07:54PM - edited Apr 18, 2011 07:55PM by Erica

I had my surgery over four years ago and none of my breast forms have worn out, neither silicone nor foam. But I don't wear my silicone ones every day and I wear the foam ones in pocketed camisoles much of the time, so they don't sit against my skin and don't have much wear and tear.

The silicone forms are usually under warranty for two years, but they can last longer. If you wear them every day, though, you might be ready for replacements in two years. Most insurance allows replacements every one or two years. Mine allows replacements once a year, so I've amassed a little collection by now!

BreastFree.org (breastfree.org); BreastFree Blog (breastfree.blogspot.com); Twitter @BreastFree
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Apr 18, 2011 09:14PM beacon800 wrote:

I had a BMX and wear the micro bead forms from TLC. I use regular bras, wireless with soft cups and sewed my own material on them to make a pocket. It all works great, it's dead cheap and very comfortable. I also have a professionally fitted pair of silicon forms with mastectomy bras and I never use them! I donated some and sold some on eBay. I like the solution I found on my own. I use a 36B bra and the size 3 micro bead forms. I look better now than before - as long as I keep my shirt on :). It's very doable and don't worry, there are many, many options you have.

LCIS, PLCIS. Dx 7/24/2009, LCIS, Stage 0, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 18, 2011 09:42PM Celtic_Spirit wrote:

I wear my silicon forms all day, every day. My insurance pays for a new pair every two years. I've now had one pair for three years. My fitter took a look at my older pair last year and says they're still doing good. That's amazing, considering what I put them through! Hot weather, cold weather, athletics, and cats walking across them when I'm laying down!

Dx 2/8/2008, IDC, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, 9/30 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 19, 2011 06:49AM Erica wrote:


Would you mind sharing what bra (or bras) you wear with the microbead forms? I think the bra can be as important as the forms in achieving a natural look. And what kind of material do you use for pockets (stretchy? cotton?). Thanks!

BreastFree.org (breastfree.org); BreastFree Blog (breastfree.blogspot.com); Twitter @BreastFree

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