Source: Adapted from http://www.eskimo.com/~bloo/bformfaq/
I have absolutely no interest in the companies mentioned except as a consumer. Their listing here is NOT and should not be considered an endorsement.
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 presented here.
Where mentioned, all prices are U.S. dollars.
This document is not copyrighted and may be distributed freely.
No profit shall be made from its distribution.
Shop for, and wear breast forms at your own risk.
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. Information about other types of forms (thin-shelled forms, breast enhancers and pads) can also be found here.
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.
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 in the 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 range 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.
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.
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:
SiliconeGood 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.
Rubber/LatexGood 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.
FoamGood 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.
Cotton BattingGood 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.
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.
SymmetricalThis type of form can be worn on either side of the body.
Triangle (tri-corner): This is the most general type of form, and offers the most complete and natural bra fit for most users.
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.
Heart Shape: This type of form has double extensions, both for under the arm and the upper chest wall.
AsymmetricalThese are forms that are designed to be left or right side specific.
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.
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.
Other Types of Breast Form and Accessories
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.
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).
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 accessory is rather cheap. A pair of silicone nipples usually costs about $20 - $40 (U.S. dollars).
What are the parts of an attachable form?
An attachable breast form consists of two parts. One piece is an upside down “V” shape with the soft half of velcro on one side and an adhesive on the other. The other part of the form is the form itself, with 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.).
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).
How are they attached to and removed from the chest?
After doing this a few times it only takes 5-10 minutes to complete the attachment process.
- Shaving the chest area (if necessary): The area must be free of any hair for the attachments to hold properly.
- 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 attachment. The exfoliating creme will help clean off any dead skin, oils, soaps or shampoos that build up over time. Doing this helps the attachment stay on for the longest period of time.
- Marking the position for the attachments: Place the attachment 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 attachment to help in placing on the chest. Take off bra and form and carefully detach the attachment from the form.
- Attaching the attachment: 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 attachments stay on longer - up to a week, depending on your skin type.
- Attaching the form to the attachment: 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.
- Detaching the form from the attachment: At all times holding the attachment to the chest, slowly pull the form away from the attachment, starting from the armpit area.
- Detaching the attachment from the chest wall: “This might sting a little.” You have been warned. It is a gigantic Band-Aid. 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).
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.
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.
For silicone forms, at least one manufacturer recommends “washing their breast forms after every use with mild, soapy water and patting dry with a soft towel.” Some forms come in containers that are pre-molded to hold the form in its intended shape and it is recommended to store them in the container when not in use.
While temperature extremes should not adversely affect a form for a short period of time, storage temperatures should probably stay at more moderate levels.
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. The most important tip to be stressed is: Don’t exaggerate the size!
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 is 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 recommend bringing a favorite bra that fits comfortably. Look in the phone book under “breast forms,” “prosthetics,” or “orthotics” for local retailers.
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 reputation 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.
3960 Rosslyn Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45209
Phone: 800-626-6007 or 914-737-5976
P.O. Box 2032
Peekskill, NY 10566
Amoena Corporation (owned by Discrene now)
1955 West Oak Circle
Marietta, GA 30062
Camp International, Inc.
P.O. Box 89
Jackson, MI 49204-0089
Discrene (Coloplast, Inc.)
5610 W. Sligh Avenue, Suite 100-C
Tampa, FL 33634-4468
Freeman Orthotics and Prosthetics
900 West Chicago Road
Sturgis, MI 49091-9756
Jodee After Surgery Inner Fashion (also available through JC Penney)
Phone: 800-423-9038 (8:00a-6:00p, Mon-Fri, ET)
P.O Box 3837
Hollywood, FL 33083-9978
Nearly Me (owned by Spenco Medical Corp)
P.O. Box 2501
Waco, TX 76702-2501
Best Value Products
P.O. Box 156, Dept. EM
Wyncote, PA 19095-0156
Delana’s Specialty Merchandise
P.O. Box 50091
Indianapolis, IN 46250
P.O. Box 316
Woodbury, NY 11797
Fantasies in Lace
P.O. Box 100279
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33310
Fantasy Girl, The
Owned by TS Sofie Taylor
312 Crosstown Drive, Suite 168
Peachtree City, GA 30269
Frederick’s of Hollywood
P.O. Box 229
Hollywood, CA 90078-0229
H.E.R.S. Breast Prostheses
353 S. 5th. Street
Coos Bay, OR 97420
H.F.I.S. Forms (Beverley; a.k.a., Ben)
Santa Monica, CA 90406
Phone: 800-FOR-LOLA or 215-855-5441
1551 Valley Forge Road Suite 227
Lansdale, PA 19446
9320 Mark Twain Lane
Port Richey, FL 34668
Melody Products International
P.O. Box 2142
Yorba Linda, CA 92686
Michael Salem Boutique
P.O. Box 7260
New York, NY 10116-7260
Tanya Brown’s Prosthesis Emporium (TP Brown)
P.O. Box 257
Windsor, OH 44099