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05-31-2018 "Sisters Not Twins"

Sisters Not Twins

Some women choose to have just one breast removed (that was my choice). There are some great benefits to having at least one sensate breast and nipple. However, it can also be challenging to achieve a good restoration of breast and nipple. It will be a "sister" not a "twin" they always tell you.

In many ways, it's much easier to provide a close approximation of a nipple than of a breast. Naturally Impressive offers a wide selection of areola features (bumpy, smooth), diameters (35mm to 50mm), nipple width and projection and colors (we have choices beyond the 5 basic colors).

After making nipple impressions for about 7 years, we realized that there really isn’t such a thing as a “perfect match” to a natural nipple. Nipples change size and color with temperature and other factors, so it’s a moving target. The giant leap from “sister” to attempting a perfect match is much more labor intensive and ultimately may result in a “sister” nipple anyway. We've drastically simplified the process for you and us. The savings in time, hassle and money are passed on to you. With the Naturally Impressive "approximate" approach, you will pay hundreds of dollars less than with any other custom nipple prosthetic company. What’s not to love about that?

For more details, go to "Catalog/Order" page and press "Color Palette" in the "Choose Color" section. You can browse for ideas and then call us for free consult to help determine the two best initial choices in model and color for you. Once you receive them, you give us feedback (lighter, darker, change in model, etc.) for a free exchange of one or both nips.

My husband spoiled me by inventing a Naturally Impressive nipple for me while I was still in the process of breast reconstruction. I hadn’t really thought far enough ahead to think of what I would do for a nipple. It’s been over eight years now that I’ve been wearing Naturally Impressive nipples and it makes me so happy to look in the mirror and see that lovely symmetry (even though my natural nipple does change color!). It's been a very satisfactory solution for me. Plastic surgeons have told us that it's not possible to surgically create a nipple as realistic looking as Naturally Impressive nipples. Even with an excellent 3D tattoo, the lack of dimension, when paired with your natural nipple, would seem strange, in my opinion.

If you do wish to get a tattoo, it might be an option to wear your Naturally Impressive nipple over the tattoo (once it is well healed) for occasions when you want some dimension. I spoke with an employee at a nationally famous tattoo artist's shop. He said that after their tattoos are well healed, the skin is just like regular skin and the tattoo would not be harmed by wearing a Naturally Impressive nipple over it. However, he cautioned that the method and dyes used for tattoos in MD offices are very different from theirs. We're not sure if wearing Naturally Impressive nipples over some types of tattoos might cause fading, so be sure to check with your tattoo artist first.

Call anytime if you have questions. We love helping women find their personal best outcome for nipples. If we can’t help you, we’ll try to direct you to someone who can.

03-06-2018 "Nips that Stick"

Snowman Window Cling

Wouldn't it be nice if prosthetic nipples would stick just like window cling? You simply slap them on and they stay on until you peeled them off.  News flash: skin isn't like glass. Our marvelous, living, breathing skin with natural oils and sweat glands just isn't like the surface of glass (good thing!).

Dealing with the realities of Naturally Impressive nipples sticking securely on the  breast was one of our first big challenges. We had developed a nipple that looked fantastically real, but when using Pros-Aide adhesive, they only stayed on a few days, at best. Often I'd find them in the bedsheets in the morning or stuck to my husband's arm!  A bit funny, but also VERY frustrating! And if you've paid a few hundred dollars for it and it gets lost, that's financially painful. This problem of "nips that don't stick" has traditionally been the biggest, most frustrating problem with nipple prosthetics. 

The core issue relates to silicone. Silicone is a wonderful, safe, versatile material to work with for prosthetics of any kind. It's strong, yet pliable, has low toxicity, high thermal stability and does not absorb organic material that could lead to bacterial growth.  It can be colored extrinsically or intrinsically for a natural appearance.  The  biggest problem is that nothing sticks to silicone but silicone.

You can add plastics to the silicone and that will help an adhesive like Pros-Aide be effective, but it will also make the prosthetic look and feel stiffer...less real. We have found the solution in using a highly safety tested, medical grade, silicone adhesive (Telesis), paired with a gentle, effective remover.  These two products have been game changers for us in being able to confidently  provide "nips that stick".

Since Telesis adhesive sticks so well to pure silicone & the thin silicone nipple edges are delicate in order to blend into the skin beautifully, the result of wearing and caring for the prosthesis using Telesis slowly causes the edges to show cosmetic wear.

Women vary greatly in their cosmetic preferences. Even though Naturally Impressive nipples will continue to adhere well, some women might want to purchase a fresh pair in 3 or 4 months. Many are satisfied for six months or longer of consistent wear. Please note that we have discount prices for reorders.

Our focus is to provide "nips that stick". For most women that is accomplished using Telesis adhesive. We have a few clients with drier skin types (like after radiation) that find sufficient adhesion with the Pros-Aide adhesive. They have the best deal ever as  Naturally Impressive nipples will last a year or more using Pros-Aide adhesive. If interested, we suggest you purchase (on your own) "Pros-Aide: The Original" 2 oz. online.

02-15-2018 Breast Cancer Sisters

Girls On Car

Sister-like Support...where we can share our heart freely, be listened to and understood. Sometimes we're shaken to the core. We're in shock, confused & anxious about all the unknowns….all the decisions. To find someone who is a littler further down the path from us is so valuable. They've found their way through and they are ok. They have perspective from their experiences that we're hungry to hear. They affirm our feelings aren't crazy. They listen, make us laugh, cry & want to hug them, even though they may live around the world. And then, all of a sudden, there are new women that we are helping support along the way. And it feels good to do that. It gives meaning and purpose if our experiences help make the path a little clearer and easier for someone else. Close friendships are formed on the battlefield.

I hope you have a good support network. Sometimes family and friends are supportive and sometimes, even if they want to be, they just can't understand from the inside out. No matter what, you don't need to "go it alone", there is an online support community for almost anything you struggle with. There are support groups for each type of reconstruction surgery (various types of flap, implant and fat graft surgeries) and there are support groups if you choose not to reconstruct like Flat & Fabulous.

One of the first support groups I became aware of was breastcancer.org. It's a very large, active site. On the home page, there are many practical topics helping walk you through essential information related to: symptoms /diagnosis, treatments and side effects; reconstruction options; day to day matters etc.. Once you log in, you have a side bar that includes Active Topics, My Favorite Topics, Private Messaging and Search options that help ease navigation on your specific areas of interest.

I really like the Sisters in Scars facebook group. It's very simple to navigate and almost every post receives prompt and encouraging responses covering a multitude of breast cancer concerns and issues. A quote from the Sisters In Scars website: "Michele (founder) and her group of administrators and executives continue to grow the vision of Sisters In Scars. We are committed to growing into a solid non-profit that expands our outreach to include frequent retreats, gifts to patients having surgery across the globe, development of local chapters to provide support on a more focused and personal level, surgical recovery products specialized for mastectomy and reconstruction patients, and promoting education to the public about preventative breast cancer surgeries and being a previvor."

I have learned so much about hereditary breast cancer from Tracy, the founder of BRCAStrong (facebook group and website brcastrong.org). Instead of being devastated by discovering she was BRCA2 positive in her early 20's, she has become a (self proclaimed) "Soul on Fire" to inspire, inform and support Previvors . "BRCAStrong will navigate you through the process with others who are making the same decisions and facing the same fears. Empowering women living with reconstruction or no reconstruction after mastectomies is imperative. We can help women network with the right foundation and physicians to properly support their needs. Our mission is to support, educate, inspire and empower Previvors & Survivors, to eliminate the feeling of isolation.”

Hopefully, you have found a place to give and receive support. The depth of friendship formed in the "battleground" is one of the beautiful silver linings of going down these unexpected paths.

01-28-2018 Happy Birthday to Us!

Birthday Cake

Welcome to the first Naturally Impressive blog post! This month, we're celebrating the 8th birthday of Naturally Impressive, LLC. We never expected to become "nipple prosthetic specialists", it just "happened". Well, breast cancer happened and on the path to restoration, my wonderful, problem solving hubby, discovered a way to make a quality nipple replacement for me. My plastic surgeon was impressed and invited us to display them during an international breast surgeon training conference. We were blown away by their enthusiastic response! We had no idea how elusive a good nipple solution has been for women after breast cancer surgery!

Like one of our clients says "Women want nipples!" It's ironic because most of our lives, we have been trying to hide them. Once we lose them, when we see our reflection in the mirror, we just don't feel "normal". Some women say they feel like a blank slate. I had one breast removed, so I felt lopsided.

The first thought for many women is surgical nipple reconstruction. But if you've had radiation they will very likely flatten (they often flatten even if you haven't had radiation). If you have thin skin over implants, surgery is risky, you could even lose your implants and have to start over again. Many women have had ENOUGH surgery and just do not want to go through any more pain or surgical risk.

Tattoos have no dimension, tend to fade (especially on radiated skin) and if not done well, you're stuck with them. The mass produced nipple prosthetics most surgeons had seen looked fake and fell off unpredictably, so hardly worth mentioning as an option to their patients.

It's been a continual evolution with Naturally Impressive nipples with a multitude of problem solving "opportunities". Brian was usually able to come up with a solution within 24 hours of feeling like we hit a wall. We're very satisfied with our current design, adhesive and remover. We don't claim to be perfect (nothing but the originals are), but our clients keep telling us how much they love how real Naturally Impressive nipples look and how well they stay on. Their vote of confidence, friendship and repeat sales rocks our boat.

Naturally Impressive nipples might not be the final solution for every woman wanting nipples after breast reconstruction, but what joy to hear from so many who are thrilled to have found the simplicity of the Naturally Impressive option.