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05-31-2018 Sisters Not Twins: Nipple Prosthesis After Unilateral Mastectomy
Written as a Guest Blog for
the closed Facebook group "DiepCJourney - Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy" and the website blog that provides education, compassionate support and excellent resources for breast cancer "thrivers" and health care professionals.
For women who have a unilateral mastectomy after breast cancer, there are great benefits to maintaining at least one sensate breast and nipple. However, it usually is more challenging to achieve a good symmetrical restoration of breast and nipple. There are plastic surgeons who like to inform us that after reconstruction, our breasts will be "sisters not twins" to help us have realistic expectations.
In seeking to restore symmetry and balance for these women, most custom nipple prosthetic companies make an impression of the natural nipple and then seek to match the color. The cost range for this degree of customization is currently about $480 to $760. That was the approach my husband and I used with Naturally Impressive nipple prosthetics for about 5 years. We learned a lot through this process, but we also discovered some of its limitations.
MATCHING A NATURAL NIPPLE IS A MOVING TARGET!
From my own experience of having one natural nipple and feedback from clients, it gradually dawned on us that most natural nipples change color & size with temperature changes and other factors, making it virtually impossible to "match" it with a prosthesis. Even with the best process, the result is going to be approximate. The same dilemma can apply to surgical nipple reconstruction or tattooing attempts to match a natural nipple.
Dimension is important too. Surgical nipples often flatten; 3D tattoos have no projection. Having just one perky nipple showing through clothing can be embarrassing. Nothing is perfect except the originals.
Shifting our paradigm from seeking to provide an exact match to providing a reasonable approximation that conveys the essence of your natural nipple enabled us to simplify. Now the process is faster for you and the cost is REMARKABLY lower.
It’s delightful to see how often women find a unilateral nipple prosthesis solution they are comfortable with from our wide selection of true-to-life colors, areola features/diameters & models. We hear a lot of "it's pretty darn close!" comments from clients using this approach. Susan from Pennsylvania recently told me by phone: "My husband and I are really impressed with how well this process works."
Intrigued? Follow these three steps to be on your way to feeling whole and complete again.
1. Choose “Sister for Your Natural Nipple” on catalog page. Browse our online catalog and explore model, size, and color preferences.
2. Call us to discuss order details and receive the Add to Cart code to place your online order.
3. Soon after, you’ll receive two unique nipple versions that you compare to your natural nipple to decide what features, color and size is closest. Then tell us if you wish to do a free exchange of one or both nipples with desired adjustments. We provide a pre-paid return envelope.
If in doubt, give a call. I’m always happy to talk you through the process.
Randi Johnson RN, BSN
Co-founder Naturally Impressive, LLC