After surgery care
A breast prosthesis is an artificial breast that fits inside a bra or camisole. Wearing a prosthesis can help you to regain your natural shape and make you feel more comfortable in your clothes. It may also help improve the weight imbalance noticed by many women and prevent shoulder/ back problems in the future. Prostheses are available in temporary, partial and permanent types.
A temporary prosthesis can be used immediately after your surgery and is made of a soft material. If you have had a partial mastectomy or lumpectomy and are experiencing asymmetry or unevenness, a partial prosthesis may help to fill your bra.
Permanent breast prostheses are usually made of silicone gel and are available in different sizes, shapes and weights. You can be fitted with one usually, about six to eight weeks after surgery.
Click here for breast prostheses fitters and mastectomy garments.
Effective from December, 2008, a Federal Government program provides for reimbursement for the cost of a new or replacement prosthesis up to $400 per prosthesis every two years. It will also reimburse the cost of a partial prosthesis for those who have had a partial mastectomy.
All women who are permanent residents of Australia, have a current Medicare entitlement and have had a full or partial mastectomy are eligible to claim the reimbursement. The retailer states ‘external breast prosthesis’ on the receipt. To claim this reimbursement simply complete a claim form from Medicare, attach your original receipt and hand both in at any Medicare office or post to Medicare Australia, GPO Box 9822 in your capital city.
If you are a veteran or war widow you may be entitled to receive your prostheses free of charge and you will also get assistance towards the cost of purchasing bras. Contact Veterans Affairs for more information on 9366 8395.
There are a number of services in metropolitan and country areas that can fit and supply prostheses and specially designed bras and bathers.
For more information contact us on 9324 3703.
Post surgery care at home
There may come a time when nursing care assistance is needed. The Silver Chain Association of WA employs trained professional staff to provide a range of care services in metropolitan, country and remote areas. You may also be eligible for home help to ease some of your burden. If you feel you would benefit from this type of support your doctor (GP) can provide a referral.
For more information contact Silver Chain on firstname.lastname@example.org or their 24 hour number 1300 650 803 or our specialist breast care nurses on 9324 3703
You may also like to consider using some equipment to help ensure the safety and independence of yourself or your loved one. Examples of this are shower chairs and stools or safety hand rails.
The safest and most economical way to do this is to ask your doctor for a referral to an Occupational Therapist at your nearest Public Hospital. An in-home assessment will be arranged and the appropriate installations carried out by suitable tradespeople.
Lymphoedema can occur after surgery for breast cancer when lymph nodes are removed or damaged by radiotherapy. This can stop the lymphatic fluid from flowing freely and result in a build up of fluid in some parts of the body. It is not the same as seroma, swelling that occurs after surgery or radiotherapy. Lymphoedema can occur months or even years after treatment has finished.
The majority of women who have treatment for breast cancer do not have a problem with lymphoedema. However, if you are concerned about lymphoedema, the best person to discuss this with is your own doctor.
If you require treatment for lymphoedema or a fitting for a lymphoedema garment contact your GP, Breast Centre Physiotherapist or a trained lymphodema specialist.
For more information about lymphoedema and its management contact one of our specialist breast care nurses on 9324 3703 or see the Cancer Council Australia website: http://canceraustralia.gov.au.