Last week I shared some pretty daunting news about the risks of reconstructive surgery for mastectomy, including the possible harms of both silicone and saline implants as well as the risks of the actual surgery.
Reconstructive surgery is not the only option after mastectomy, however. Here are three other options if you are considering the possibility of NOT going the reconstruction route:
#1 Custom Prosthetics
A breast prosthesis or “form” is an artificial body part that is worn inside a bra or is attached to the body. It is designed to simulate the look and feel of an actual breast.
Custom prosthetics are usually fitted by a trained professional or an institution that specializes in creating unique breast prosthetics. They can be designed to fit inside a pocket of a mastectomy bra but most are designed to be temporarily “affixed” to the skin by either strong adhesive or magnets.
While foam or “polyfill” prosthetics can be worn very soon after surgery since it is light-weight, foam’s lightness also comes with some disadvantages. Many women who undergo a single-breast mastectomy may want to wear a prosthetic to restore proper body balance and posture that may lo best when one breast is removed. Some foam prosthetics prove to be too light for this purpose.
While a silicone form may look and feel more like a real breast tissue than foam—and will be closer in weight to a real breast– as we discussed in last week’s blog, silicone itself is a toxic substance. Wearing it close to very sensitive breast-area skin may release toxic chemicals into the system.
The natural oils that the skin emits as well as high body temperature (such as during a work out or on a hot day) may exacerbate any chemical leaching. Although very few studies have been conducted regarding toxic leakage from external silicon prosthetics, the jury is still out when it comes to other external uses of silicone, such as in joint replacement or silicone bakeware.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated back in 1979 that silicone is “FDA approved as a food-safe substance.” Yet some cite the sheer lack of any studies whatsoever as reason to suspect that toxins such as heavy metals, siloxane, cylcopentasiloxane (a toxic siloxane derivative), dioctyl phthalate, and other contaminants may leach into food from these containers when exposed to high temperatures. They recommend that, because of the lack of research on external sources of silicone contamination, sensitive individuals should avoid silicone altogether; this would include those who are on a healing journey with breast cancer as well.
Another concern about custom prosthetics is the use of magnets as adhesives. Again, there has been no studies that have linked the magnets used to adhere breast prosthetics to any specific health concerns. That being said, there have been studies that have connected the use of neodymium-iron-boron magnets, which are used in some prosthetics as well as many other commercial products, to harmful consequences for those with heart devices and other EMF-sensitive conditions.
#2 “Off the Shelf” Breast Forms
Off-the-shelf breast “forms” can be purchased “right off the shelf” from a retailer that specializes in non-customized prosthetics as well as post-mastectomy bras, camisoles, swimsuits and leisure or “night” bras that can be worn in lieu of a prosthetic under a nightgown.
The advantage of shelf prosthetics is that they can be easily purchased through insurance. The disadvantage is that normally a woman must wait 4 to 6 weeks post-surgery to be connected to a mastectomy retailer through their conventional doctor or oncologist. Another issue is that “off the shelf” forms are often not as comfortable as fitted forms. This is because the shapes and sizes for these units are standardized and not custom-fitted.
#3 Going “flat”
Going “flat” means using no prosthetics at all. Many woman are choosing to go this route these days, finding empowerment in their new lease on life after breast cancer—and in the new way their bodies look as well.
These women wear their scars with pride as a reminder of their strength throughout their breast cancer journey. Some even choose to get “tittoos” on their scar areas, although I personally do not recommend this. Although some ink companies are creating inks that contain less toxins, most tattoo inks still carry substances that can be very harmful to those with compromised immune systems.
Whatever you look like, be PROUD of who you are!
If you are in the process of making post-mastectomy decisions right now, odds are you have already been through quite a lot up to this point. Be PROUD of your courage and your willingness to explore other options besides the conventional treatments every step of the way!
And whatever choice you decide to make post-mastectomy, remember that when you embrace your scars, you embrace your healthy lifestyle—and your life– after cancer. And you join a large community of empowered women that give you the support you need on your journey forward. Many such empowered women can be found in the comments section of this blog as well as on our Breast Cancer Conqueror Facebook page and at our annual Healing Divas Retreat.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to our growing community of empowered women who are taking charge of their health… naturally!
Dr. Veronique Desaulniers, better known as Dr. V, is the founder of The 7 Essentials System ™, a step-by-step guide that teaches you exactly how to prevent and heal Breast Cancer Naturally. To get your F.R.E.E. 7 day mini e-course, and to receive her weekly action steps and inspiring articles on the power of Natural Medicine, visit https://breastcancerco.wpengine.com/.