Cancer patients who undergo mastectomies may choose to have breast reconstruction. Others may decide to skip further surgery and choose a prosthesis instead.
New technology is making breast design precise, faster and much easier for cancer patients.
Shopping for bras used to be a challenge for Helen Battaglia Commodori, but that’s nothing compared to fighting breast cancer, not once but twice. First, in 1986 at 35-years-old.
“Ten years to that month in June 1996 it recurred in that same breast. Stage two. At that point I opted for a double mastectomy with reconstruction,” Helen said.
Infection after surgery meant the implants had to come out. Now, twenty years later, Helen is turning to new technology to redefine her shape.
Soft stickers on Helen’s chest and torso are the first step in a three-dimensional scanning process.
Certified Mastectomy Fitter Elisa Lawson uses her tablet to record a precise image of Helen’s chest.
Until recently, patients would have to undergo a molding process.
“When this process started 15 years ago we came in with a bucket of water and plaster and literally wrapped mesh around patients,” Elisa said.
Now it’s fifteen minutes of digital imaging and several weeks of production time for a prosthesis that’s a perfect fit.
“The beauty of the custom breast form is that we’re recreating on the back of the form the image of the chest wall, so it fits like a puzzle,” Elisa said.
“They’re lightweight. They’re comfortable. You’d never know I didn’t have breasts,” Helen said.
The breast forms are covered by most private insurance companies. Lawson says the custom-designed prosthetic breasts are lightweight and can be worn in swimwear.