Breast prostheses are breast forms intended to simulate breasts. There are a number of materials and designs although the most common construction is silicone gel in a plastic skin. Off-the shelf breast prostheses come in a range of shapes and sizes, while customised breast prostheses are moulded to fit an individual's chest by taking an impression of both breasts and sculpting a mirror image. Fabrication of customised prostheses is typically done by an anaplastologist who makes somato prostheses. The areola and nipple may be replicated by being moulded into the breast form or a separate prosthetic nipple may be attached to the breast prosthesis. Both custom made and off-the shelf breast prostheses come in varieties that are designed to either be held in a pocket in a specially designed mastectomy bra or attached to the skin and worn with a standard bra.
Breast prostheses have a long history. In the 19th century they were made of rubber. On 22 September 1885, one Charles L. Morehouse received US patent 326915 for his "Breast-Pad", made of natural rubber and filled with air at normal pressure.
Breast prostheses are most commonly used after a mastectomy (complete removal of the breast tissue), usually a consequence of breast cancer. They may act as an alternative to, or a stopgap measure until, plastic surgery to reconstruct a breast.
Many pre-hormonal trans women and males who cross-dress as females use breast prostheses in order to create the illusion of feminine breasts. They are sometimes combined with cleavage enhancement techniques when used with clothing with low necklines.
Full frontal so called "cleavage tops" are also available, mainly marketed to the Transgender community. They incorporate a pair of breast prostheses in a one-piece skin coloured garment that is designed to provide the illusion of natural cleavage. Such garments have the disadvantage of having a visible top edge at the neck, which requires the wearing of a choker or similar necklace to hide the top edge of the garment. The edges of the breast prostheses are often distinguishable through the thin outer cover.
Non-customised prostheses are made of different shapes to suit the extent of breast tissue removal or the shape of a crossdresser's chest. Asymmetric breast forms incorporate an extension towards the armpit to replicate the shape of the tail of Spence, while symmetric "triangle" or "teardrop" prostheses do not incorporate that extension. Customised prostheses will mirror the other breast.
How to use with medical adhesive
Wiki editor's note: This section is a work in progress based off an old article that refers to products which do not exist anymore. It is not intended as replacement for manufacture's instructions in use or care.
The joy of actually wearing silicone breasts attached to your own skin cannot be denied! They look, feel, and behave so exquisitely that it is hard to go back to simply wearing them in a restrictive brassiere.
Attaching breasts is easily accomplished by purchasing an inexpensive brush-on adhesive from any medical supply company. I have tested several types of adhesives and have chosen one particular type for it's wearable strength, and ease of removing the "used" adhesive from the silicone breasts afterwards.
I originally liked UROCARE Uro-Bond 5000. This is a clear polysilicone adhesive which, at first, appeared to be robust (pun - NOT!). But experiments soon revealed that the adhesive weakened around the perimeter of the breast, especially after sleeping in them. Also, cleaning this type of adhesive from the polyurethane "skin" (which covers the silicone gel that fills the breasts) was not easy. Trichloroethane solvents, used to remove adhesive from your own skin, can actually momentarily cause unusual expansion and rippling of the silicone breasts. And I believe that this can accelerate the breakdown and tearing of this delicate polyurethane "skin" (I ruined one pair - an expensive lesson!)
So, I have switched to SMITH+NEPHEW Skin-Bond 4000-00, which uses a "white" Natural Rubber adhesive in a Hexane solvent. Hexane does not cause the rippling effect and subsequent damage to the polyurethane breast skin. However it is considered to be a neurotoxin, so it is best to follow directions about ventilation and drying time. (The best adhesion is achieved if you coat the breast and your own skin, then press it in place after 4 minutes). I researched the toxicity of n-Hexane and convinced myself that it can be used safely. Since it is used medically as a natural rubber solvent for application to human skin, I believe it is safe. The amount used is very small. (Any solvent has it's risks, even acetone, trichlorethane, etc.)
Natural Rubber really has great adhesion! The breasts don't pull away from your skin around the perimeter as easily. And perspiration does not affect the holding power. You can even swim, shower, sleep, or take a bubble bath!
Eventually, you may have to remove them (reluctantly, I'm sure!), and then it's clean-up time (fun!). The white rubber adhesive that remains on your chest can easily be removed using Mineral Spirits and a paper towel. Wash the solvent off with soap and water. A nice dusting of Baby Powder will absorb any residual stickyness. But what about those silicone breasts? All that white rubber! (And if you were lazy, and built up many layers of natural rubber before cleaning, what a mess!).
As I mentioned, you do NOT want to use pure trichloroethane on those silicone breasts, as the outer polyurethane "skin" will wrinkle and possible weaken with repeated exposure. The manufacture of such solvents did not know that you would be cleaning breast prosthesis, or trying to re-use them without damage. You may get away with it for awhile, but it's an expensive gamble.
I just discovered a "solventless" method of removing the layer of white natural rubber - apply Vaseline petroleum jelly all over the adhesive, and let it sit overnight. Then, after wiping the Vaseline off, and "degreasing" in soap and water (DAWN detergent is great), you can use your fingertip to gently peel-back and "roll" the rubber into a ball. It peels back off the breast very nicely, leaving little trace of rubber! This is a significant improvement over dissolving it with solvents - large build ups of rubber can take absolutely all night to remove using solvents. The Vaseline method takes minutes (after the overnight soak). If a small amount of stubborn rubber goo remains in some places, this can be safely removed using SMITH+NEPHEW Uni-Solve 4020-00 Adhesive Remover. This contains Naphtha (also called Mineral Spirits) and a smaller percentage of Trichloroethane. The ratios of solvents make it gentler on the polyurethane, and you don't have to worry about damage.
If you own silcone breasts and have never attached them, I encourage you to try this delightful experience. The SMITH+NEPHEW Skin-Bond 4000-00 Natural Rubber Adhesive (with Hexane) costs less than $10.00. Ask your local medical supply house. Mineral Spirits Paint Thinner is less than $5.00 at any hardware store, and Vaseline petroleum jelly is about $3.00.
- http://www.breasthealth.com.au/careafter/useofprostheses.html Use of Prostheses
- http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/content.php?page_id=1008 Breast Prostheses
- Kimberly Chareau (C) 1992
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