After Surgery Care – Breast Cancer Surgery

Recovering from any surgery takes time

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.

After Surgery Care - woman doing yoga

After surgery care

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.


A Federal Government program provides reimbursement for the cost of a new or replacement prosthesis up to $400 per prosthesis every two years. All women who are permanent residents of Australia, have a current Medicare entitlement and have had a full mastectomy are eligible to claim part or all of the reimbursement, depending on their private health insurance status.

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.

Post surgery care at home

Please speak to your specialist team at the hospital if you feel that you require support in the home whilst you are recovering post surgery. They will be able to refer you to other community services who may be able to provide this for you.


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 buildup 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, 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. The Australasian Lymphology Association holds a public National Lymphoedema Practitioners Register.

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