Breast Form FAQ
INDEX 0. What's new in this version/wish list for future versions 1. Disclaimers 2. Thanks To... 3. Purpose of the FAQ 4. What is a breast form? 5. Medical purpose for the breast form industry 6. How the TG community benefits 7. Materials Used in Commercial Breast Forms (Good points and Bad points) A. Silicone B. Rubber/Latex C. Foam D. Cotton Batting 8. Types of forms A. Symmetrical 1. Triangle(tri-corner) 2. Teardrop 3. Heart shape B. Assymetrical 1. Curved teardrop 2. Extended triangle C. Other types of breast form and accessories 1. Thin shell breast forms 2. Attachable forms 3. Attachable nipples 9. More details about attachable breast forms A. What are the parts of an attachable form? B. What are the advantages of this type of form? C. How are they attached to the chest?(step by step) 1. Shaving the chest area 2. Preparing the skin 3. Marking the position for the supports 4. Attaching the support 5. Attaching the form to the support 6. Detaching the form from the skin support 7. Detaching the support from the chest wall D. Tips for attachable forms 10. Do I need a special bra to wear a breast form? 11. How long can I expect my breast forms to last? 12. Taking care of your breast forms 13. Fitting tips 14. How to measure for a bra 15. Reasons why it may be difficult to receive a professional fitting. ***EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS*** 16. Manufacturers of commercial breast forms 17. Retailers/suppliers of breast forms WISH LIST: * Info for those not wishing to get realistic appearance forms(camp) * Info on local retailers who do form fittings(reccommendation list) * Info on how to make your own breast forms * Add picture illustrations of different breast form types(web only.) 1. Disclaimers * I have absolutlely no interest in the companies mentioned except as a consumer. * All information listed about the breast form manufacturers and products is not guaranteed to be fact. The reader is urged to verify for themselves any information in this FAQ * Where mentioned, all prices are US dollars(unless otherwise stated.) * This document is not copyrighted and may be distributed freely. No profit shall be made from its distribution. If you wish to reprint this elsewhere you must contact the author(firstname.lastname@example.org) first. * Shop for, and wear breast forms at your own risk. 2. Thanks To... * Amanda: For buying some forms after reading this document. In so doing she was able to add some wonderful and invaluable information. * Carla: For having bought breast forms before, and being patient while I bombarded her with questions on how to do it right. * Chris: Fitter extraordinaire. * Mom: For being mom, as well as being so supportive of me. It also helped that she is a survivor of breast cancer... 3. Purpose of the FAQ To provide information about all aspects of breast forms for the TG community or for those just seeking to simulate natural breast tissue. Much of the information here relates to silicone breast forms, since that is the primary material used in commercial forms. Currently, most of the details in this document relate to complete forms for those without chest development. However, information about other types of forms (thin-shelled forms, breast enhancers and pads) can also be found here. 4. What is a breast form? A breast form is a prosthesis worn either inside a bra or attached to the body to simulate the weight, bounce, feel, movement, and especially shape of the natural female breast. Depending on the material or shape used, these qualities can be achieved to different degrees. More expensive modern breast forms are designed by computers and can even be attached to the chest. They can be worn while bathing, sleeping or even during strenuous activity. 5. The medical purpose of the breast form industry The main intent behind the commercial breast form industry has been to supply genetic women with replacement prosthetics to restore physical symmetry and to restore peace of mind following the devastating effects of breast cancer. This year alone, over 180,000 women will be diagnosed with some form of breast cancer(of that number over 45,000 will die because of the disease.) Traditional treatments often involve chemotherapy, radiation or hormonal therapy to halt the spread of the cancer, coupled with a removal of the affected tissue areas. The traditional removal method is called a "radical mastectomy" or "modified radical mastectomy," and involves removal of the entire affected breast, the lymph nodes under the arm, and possibly the lining over the chest muscles. In recent years, new techniques have been used in which it is not necessary to remove the entire breast(lumpectomy or partial mastectomy.) This results in an industry that produces a wide variety of prosthetics for a large (unfortunately) market. The range of products which are available to the post-mastectomy patient(to restore the visual and physical balance between the affected breast area and the non-affected area) is amazing. 6. How the TG community benefits Most medical insurance plans allow for at least partial reimbursement for the purchase of breast forms and surgical bras each year(section 6109A of a 1974 Medicare ruling). Unfortunately, this is limited to genetic women who have had breast surgery, and the TG community can not take advantage of this. The TG community _can_ benefit from all of the work by this industry to develop materials and form shapes that resemble the natural female breast as closely as possible. 7. Materials Used in Commercial Breast Forms The predominant material used in the more expensive commercial breast forms is silicone gel inside a very thin, slick plastic shell with tapered edges. Other materials such as rubber/latex, foam, or cotton batting are sometimes used. Here are the main qualities of each of the types of materials used to help in deciding if a certain material is right for you: A. Silicone Good Points: The material gives the form a comparable weight, movement and feel of a natural breast. The silicone can be colored; many forms of this type are available in a variety of shades to match skin tone. The material of this type of form warms to your body temperature and feels very comfortable. Bad Points: Silicone forms are _expensive_, ranging anywhere from 100-400$ U.S. per form. B. Rubber/Latex Good Points: Cheaper alternative to silicone, while still retaining some of the qualities of silicone that make it so desirable. Bad Points: While still having some of the qualities of silicone _to_a_certain_degree_, rubber/latex can not dare to match the weight, feel or movement of even the cheapest silicone forms. C. Foam Good Points: Commercial foam forms are very cheap and can even be easily homemade. Bad Points: Will not likely have the drape, weight or movement approximating a real breast. The primary goal of this type of form is to approach the _shape_ of the natural breast. D. Cotton Batting Good points: Very cheap and easily home made. This can be a good way to estimate what cup size might fit best for your frame and body type. Bad Points: VERY light and has no draping qualities. This type of form will not move the way a natural breast would due to its lightness. The goal of this type of form is usually to restore the visual and physical balance of a missing breast. 8. Types of forms Commercial breast forms come in all shapes, materials and prices to meet a variety of needs. With all the choices available, it can sometimes be difficult to make sense of all the terminology. A. Symmetrical: A form that can be worn on either side of the body. 1. Triangle(tri-corner): This is the most general type of form, and offers the most complete and natural bra fit for most users. 2. Teardrop: The name implies its shape. The tapered end is used for a better fit either under the arm or on the upper part of the chest. 3. Heart shape: This type of form has double extensions, both for under the arm and the upper chest wall. B. Assymetrical: A form designed to be left or right side specific. 1. Curved teardrop: This is essentially the regular teardrop type with one rounded portion of the teardrop having a slight extension for the upper chest wall. 2. Extended triangle: This is a modification of the symmetric style. One of the lower corners of the triangle will have an extension which goes under the arm for better fitting in a bra with some wearers. C. Other types of breast forms and accessories: 1. Thin shell breast forms: These usually serve as an augmentation for surgeries that remove only a portion of the breast. They can also be worn as breast pads to augment the size of smaller busts.
2. Attachable forms: These are a newer type of form that is becoming quite popular. Such forms are usually silicone and more expensive than the non-attachable types. They are temporarily attached usually by velcro(hook side on the form, soft pad side attached to the chest by adhesive or surgical cement.) 3. Attachable nipples: Most breast forms do not have a pre-formed, colored nipple built in to the form(only a very few do.) Several manufacturers carry nipples that can be applied to forms that do not have this feature. Unlike the form itself, this accesory is rather cheap. A pair of silicone nipples usually costs about 20 - 40$US. 9. More details about attachable breast forms A. What are the parts of an attachable form? An attachable breast form consists of two parts; The skin support and the form itself. The skin support is an upside down "V" shape with the soft half of velcro on one side and an adhesive on the other. The form itself will have the hook(rough) half of the velcro permanently attached at points on the back side of the form. This type of form allows the wearer to be free from most special considerations that are necessary for other forms (special bras, having to _wear_ a bra to wear the form, etc.) B. What are the advantages of this type of form? With this type of breast form, the form is very securely attached to the chest wall and can be worn for a wide range of activities including sports and swimming(generally safe in chlorine and salt water). They also tend to move with the wearer more naturally than non-attachable types(in my experience.) C. How are they attached to and removed from the chest?(step by step) [After doing this a few times it only takes 5-10 minutes to complete the attachment process] ATTACHMENT: 1. Shaving the chest area(if necessary): The area must be free of any hair for the supports to hold properly over an extended period of time. 2. Preparing the skin: This type of form will usually come with an exfoliating creme that is applied to the area that will be covered by the skin support. The exfoliating creme will help clean off any dead skin, oils, soaps or shampoos that build up over time. Doing this helps the support stay on for the longest period of time. 3. Marking the position for the supports: Place the support on the form in the proper position, then put on the bra you will be wearing. Place the form in the bra and position it to the correct location. Pull the bra strap down and away from the form and use a pencil(usually comes with the form) to mark key spots on the support and your body to help in placing on the chest. Take off bra and form and carefully detach the support from the form. 4. Attaching the support: Remove the adhesive cover and place on the chest. Hold in place for several minutes to assure a good bond. After doing this several times, it becomes easier, and the support stay on longer - up to a week, depending on your skin type. 5. Attaching the form to the support: Hold the form over its intended location and depress the middle of the form slightly toward the chest so that the upper portion
connects first. This is to ensure a better drape. DETACHMENT: 6. Detaching the form from the skin support: At all times holding the skin support to the chest, slowly pull the form away from the support, starting from the armpit area. 7. Detaching the support from the chest wall: "This might sting a little" 8-} You have been warned. It is a gigantic bandaid. If any hair is underneath, this may hurt a bit, but generally, it is far less painful than you might think (It is also easier if the support is removed in the shower or when wet.) D. Tips for attachable forms * Note a freckle or mark on the skin you can use as a guide when positioning the skin support. * It works best to put on the skin support at night and waiting until morning to put on the form. The heat from your body helps the attachment last longer. * Most skin supports are NOT reusable. The replacement skin supports are sold separately. * If you are wearing something strapless or a swimsuit, you might find it helpful to attach the support while wearing the garment. * Be careful when positioning the skin support, as the adhesive will work better if only used once. * You can keep the skin supports on without the forms attached, and no one will be able to tell under an undershirt and a shirt or sweater. This way, you can get more use out of the supports if you cannot live full time as a female. * You can even shower with the supports on, but make sure the support is thoroughly dry before attaching your forms. * Attachable forms do not have to be attached- they will fit in a regular bra, and they have a fuzzy velcro padding that covers the rough side of the velcro on the back of the breast form. * You will have some slight redness if you leave the skin supports on, so plan accordingly if you need to have your shirt off for whatever reason. 10. Do I need a special bra to wear a breast form? This depends usually on the fashions you wish to wear while using your form, but for a more seamless look, a full coverage bra will be better suited to a breast form. Most breast form manufacturers also carry special lines of bras that contain a pocket that the form can be placed in to reduce movement of the form while worn. The more support offered, the better the fit, since there will be less chance for the form to move in the bra. Bras with underwires tend to work better than those with just elastic because they offer better support for the form(the same reasoning that applies to natural breasts.) Push-up bras, on the other hand, will generally not work with breast forms, since they need to push something FROM someplace that it is attached. Unless the form is attached to the chest, this type of bra will have no chance to create the desired effect of enhanced cleavage. 11. How long can I expect my breast form(s) to last? Many silicone forms have two year warranties, and you should be able to get at least that much life out of one. "Casual" wearers(not full daily use) should be able to get much longer form life spans than this; possibly 5-10 years or more. Fiberfilled or foam forms are not as resilient as silicone over time and may change their shape, decay, or become compressed. The time involved is dependent again on how much the form is worn. 12. Taking care of your breast forms (Especially Silicone Forms) * While temperature extremes should not adveresely affect a form for a short period of time, storage temperatures should stay at more moderate levels. * You can sleep in your forms, but it's not recommended. * The original boxes for most forms are designed to protect the form and help keep its shape. * You should wash your form every day you wear it. Use warm water and a very mild soap (possibly unscented dish soap). DO NOT use soaps with perfumes or moisturizers- one fitter singled out Dove as an example of a bad soap to use. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry. * Remove all jewelry before handling your forms. The edges and stones of rings could damage the form. If you plan to wear a pin or brooch, put it on your clothes before putting your forms in place. * You can wear your forms for pretty much any normal activity, but be careful around pets - their claws could puncture your forms through your clothing. * Don't use perfumed deodorants. Even better, stick with anti-perspirants, as sweat can damage the form over time. * Putting your forms on while sitting on the floor or the bed can help protect them if one happens to slip. * Putting a cotton make-up remover pad behind your form can help absorb perspiration during hot weather and strenuous activity. * Some adhesives can damage your forms, so be careful (especially with respect to attachable nipples.) 13. Fitting tips The range of options available in breast forms is truly astounding. Some manufacturers make over 500 different shapes, sizes and colors of breast forms for the needs of different body types, breast shapes and surgeries. Since many in the TG community will be starting from scratch, matching a form to an existing breast will not be a factor. * DON'T EXAGERATE THE SIZE! This is the most important tip to be stressed if passing is your goal. Many of us wish to pass as well as possible, and this point was stressed to me by my fitter. Nothing will draw attention more than a bosom that looks too buxom. By the same token, also, if you have a large frame, a smaller cup size can look unnatural. Try for as natural a look as possible, and that can be one less worry in passing. * Breast form sizing can be a little different than bra cup sizing. As much difference as there is in bra cup size or shoe size, or... between different manufacturers, there is as much difference between sizes of natural breasts. Instead of letter cup ranges, breast forms are usually numbered (smallest sizes having the lowest number.) There will typically be 2 or 3 numbers within a given cup size range. This will affect not only the depth of the form but the volume and coverage of the form as well. * If you are lucky enough to be fitted for a form by a professional. They reccommend bringing a favorite bra that fits comfortably if you have a size that you already like. Another good idea also is to bring a blouse or some other piece of clothing that will give you a good idea of how you will look. * If you are having trouble finding a store that sells breast forms. Try looking in the phone book under BREAST FORMS, PROSTHETICS, or ORTHOTICS for local retailers. 14. How to measure for a bra They will do all of the measuring at the store, but it's better to go in with an idea of what you'd like so that you're not tempted to get forms that are too large (if passing is your goal). Bras have two measurements: the bandwidth and cup size. To determine your bandwidth, simply put the tape measure around your ribs about an inch below your chest muscles. Hold the tape parallel with the floor, put your arms to your sides and take a medium-sized breath. The tape should be snug, but not tight. This is your bandwidth. The other measurement, cup size, is the difference between your bandwidth and the fullest part of your bust. It's designated by letters, so an A-cup is 1" more than your bandwidth, B=2", C=3", etc. For instance, a 36B has a bandwidth of 34 and is 36 inches around the fullest part of the cup. Once you have your bandwidth, you simply need to determine what size you'd like to be. 15. Reasons why it may be difficult to receive a professional fitting (PLEASE READ THIS!!!) For women that have had breast cancer, the experience can be devastating, both physically and emotionally. The fitter I had explained that the loss of a breast is a very painful blow to a person's self-image and sense of femininity. Many women have a very hard time looking in a mirror after surgery. Many women also experience rejection from family, spouse or loved- ones (Does this sound familiar?) Because of this, stores that sell breast forms and offer professional fittings offer an atmosphere that is very private, and also male-free. My fitter said some women may be very vocal about this privacy if it is "violated", and the store can suffer because of it(both financially because of lost business, and reputaion in the post-surgery community.) If you wish to be professionally fitted for breast forms, it would be a good idea to respect these wishes(to promote more shops doing business in the TG community) Call first and inquire whether a shop can help. Some stores will not do so(see above reasons), but many more stores are seeing the opportunity in the TG community and are very friendly and willing to help. Expect personal fittings to be arranged at low-traffic times or after-hours to lower the chances of conflict with other customers. 16. Manufacturers of Commercial Breast Forms Forms and Accessories Key:
STri=Symmetric Triangle ATri=Assymetric Triangle STD= Symmetric Teardrop ATD=Assymetric Teardrop SHS= Symmetric Heartshape TSh=Thin Shell Attach=Attachable Form Nipp=Attachable Nipple Foam=Foam/cotton batting Form Bra=Mastectomy Bras
Active, Inc. Phone: 1-800-562-4290 Address: 125 Peekstok Rd. Kalamazoo, Mi. 49001 Product Line: Stri, Atri, STD, ATD, SHS, TSh, Foam, Nipp, Bra (silicone forms are translucent and come in 3 shades: "light", "medium" & "dark" skin tones) Airway Phone: 1-800-543-0458 Address: 3960 Rosslyn Drive Cincinnati, OH 45209 Product Line: Stri, STD, ATD, SHS, TSh, Foam, Bra Almost U Phone: 1-800-626-6007 (1-914-737-5976 in NY) FAX: 1-914-739-8987 Address: P.O. Box 2032 Peekskill, NY 10566 Product Line: STD, ATD Amoena Corporation(owned by Coloplast(Discrene) now) Phone: 1-800-926-6362 Fax: 1-404-426-6332 Address: 1955 West Oak Circle Marietta, Georgia 30062 Product Line: Stri, ATri, STD, ATD, SHS, TSh, Attach(Stri, Atri), Foam, Nipp, Bra (silicone forms come in three different skin tones.) Camp International, Inc. Phone: 1-517-787-1600 Address: P.O. Box 89 Jackson, MI 49204-0089 Product Line: Stri, Atri, STD, TSh, Foam, Bra Discrene (Coloplast, Inc.) Phone: 1-800-237-4555 Address: 5610 W. Sligh Avenue Suite 100-C Tampa, FL 33634-4468 Product Line: Attach(STri), Nipp Freeman Orthotics and Prosthetics Phone: 1-800-253-2091 Fax: 1-616-651-8248 Address: 900 West Chicago Road Sturgis, Michigan 49091-9756 Product Line: STD, SHS, ATD, Foam, Bra, Nipp Jodee After Surgery Inner Fashion(also available thru JC Penney) Phone: 1-800-423-9038 (8:00 A.M. - 6:00 P.M Mon.-Fri., Eastern Time) Address: P.O Box 3837, Hollywood, FL 33083-9978 Product Line: Stri, STD, ATD, TSh, Attach, Foam, Nipp, Bra Nearly Me(owned by Spenco Medical Corp.) Phone: 1-800-877-3626 Address: P.O. Box 2501 Waco, TX 76702-2501 17. Retailers/suppliers of breast forms (Please note the [TG Friendly] mark after some retailers. These are companies that explicitly seek the business of the TG community. If this mark is not present, it is because the status is not known at this time.) Best Value Products [TG Friendly] Phone: 1-215-782-9024 Fax: 1-215-782-9180 Address: P.O. Box 156, Dept. EM Wyncote, PA 19095-0156 Email/Web: email@example.com, http://www.cdspub.com/bvp11.html Product Line: Symmetric teardrop and symmetric heartshape silicone forms with preformed and colored nipples. Size&Price: B, C, D, DD. 396.15$US/pair. Optional adhesive&remover with form: 431.00/pair. ButterFly Image [TG Friendly] Phone: 1-607-865-4624 Fax: 1-607-865-4624 Address: RD 3 Box 401D Walton, NY 13856 OR: P.O. Box 326 Sidney, NY 13838 Hours: By Appointment Email/Web: firstname.lastname@example.org, web: http://www.wpe.com/~bfi/welcome.html Product Line: Breast forms, Bras, and accessories. Manufacturer lines: Active, Amoena (both attachable and non), Camp, Discrene (both attachable and non), Nearly Me. Notes: Forms bought in pairs specially priced. Mail orders accepted. Product brochures are $2.00 to cover S&H. All inquires kept confidential. Delana's Specialty Merchandise [TG Friendly] Address: P.O. Box 50091, Indianapolis, IN 46250 Email/Web: email@example.com, http://a1.com/dsm/gender.html Product Line: Symmetric teardrop solid back, unweighted mastectomy pads (latex foam, washable tricot cover.) Thin shelled pads. Size&Price: XS, S, M, L: 25.99$US each (mastectomy pads) Dr. Leonards Health Care Catalog Phone: 1-718-768-0010 Address: 74-20th Street Brooklyn, NY 11232 Product Line: "Silicone Comfort": Symmetric teardrop silicone form, 2 Yr. warranty. Cup sizes A-D, 160$US each or 2/290$US "Contessa": Liquid gel symmetric teardrop form. Cup sizes A-D 60$US each or 2/110$US Also carries foam pads, thin shelled forms and mastectomy bras. Notes: One person reported great dissatisfaction with the customer service of this company Fantasies in Lace [TG Friendly] Phone: 1-305-581-8412 Address: PO Box 100279 Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33310 Email/Web: http://www.abmall.com/fil/fil.html Product Line: "Breast Pad" (latex rubber) One size, 6.95$/PR "Comfort Breasts" (silicone symmetric teardrop) Bra size 30-50, 325$/PR. (Also in "Larger projection" size, 375$/PR) "Breast Form" (Asymmetric Triangle silicone form, pre- shaped nipples), Bra size 30-50, 199.95$ each or 349.95$/PR. "Weighted Form" (Foam) B and C cup only, beige color 45$/PR Feminine Image Phone: Address: 312 Crosstown Drive, Suite 168 Peachtree City, GA 30269 Product Line: (Still waiting for their catalog) Size&Price: Fredericks of Hollywood Phone: 1-800-323-9525 (24/7 - call for free catalog) Address: 6608 Hollywood Blvd. P.O. Box 229 Hollywood, CA 90078-0229 Product Line: (a wide range of bras and lingerie also available) "Silicone Breasts" (silicone symmetric teardrop) 239$/Pr. Bra Size: A Cup: 32, 34, 36 B,C,D Cups: 34, 36, 38 "Push Up Enhancers" (thin-shelled silicone; used to increase cup size by one full size) 88$/Pr. Bra Size: (size indicates original/target cup size) AA/A, A/B, B/C, C/D H.F.I.S. forms (Beverley, A.k.a Ben) [TG Friendly] Phone: 1-310-450-8740 Address: Box 762 Santa Monica, CA 90406 Product Line: Makes her own Size&Price: B: 84.95$US + 7.45 shipping C: 89.95$US + 7.45 shipping D: 94.95$US + 8.25 shipping DD: 99.95$US + 9.50 shipping (Plus California sales tax if appropriate) JC Penney Catalog Phone: 1-800-222-6161 Address: P.O. Box 2056 Milwaukee, WI. 53210-2056 Product Line: Call and ask for the Jodee Catalog[TA 009-0423 A] (this is not a JC Penney Catalog.) This is the full line of Jodee brand forms and accessories. The info is valid only in the U.S. Mystique Intimates Phone: Unknown Address: N.W. 36th Street. Virginia Gardens, FL 33166 Product Line: Unknown Take A Walk On The Wildside [TG Friendly] Phone: 1-416-921-6112 Address: 161 Gerrard Street East Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5A 2E4 Hours: Sun, Mon: CLOSED Tue-Fri 1OAM - 7PM Sat 1OAM - 11PM Email/Web: firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.wildside.org Product Line: Airway Ultra Teardrop(style no. 1850, assymetrical): 400$/pr (price is Canadian$, tax exempt, 2 yr. guarantee) Sizes: 4-11 (approx. 36A through a 44DD) Notes: This is a boutique in Toronto that caters exclusively to the TG community. Tanya Brown's Prosthesis Emporium(TP Brown) (It seems the product line for this retailer has recently changed. I will try to get updated information as soon as possible) [TG Friendly] Phone: None listed Address: P.O. Box 257 Windsor, OH 44099 Product Line: Simone W19(foam): 32$/PR Nearly Me III: 405$/PR Natural Touch Classic: 390$/PR Natural Touch(symmetric teardrop and heartshape):367$/PR Traditional(symmetric teardrop and heartshape):294$/PR So Soft: 285$/PR Casual: 90$/PR Attachable Nipples: 19.50$/PR Almost U teardrop silicone form: 215$/PR