A new type of form fitting breast prosthesis is helping women feel confident after a mastectomy.
Hazel Sycamore spent more than 30 years as a nurse, and for the last nine years was a breast care nurse specialist at Southland Hospital.
When she retired last year she decided to continue helping women by working for Auckland company myReflection.
The company creates 3-D printed breast prostheses that are customised to individual women.
Mrs Sycamore first encountered the company at a conference about three years ago, when it introduced its new concept of individually made breast prostheses.
She got in touch with the company, saying women in the region ‘‘would love it’’.
Before this innovation, a breast prosthesis was typically a generic shape and was quite heavy, Mrs Sycamore said.
The back of the prosthesis was concave ‘‘so when it sits against a woman’s chest it doesn’t really fit’’.
Each week Mrs Sycamore travels from her home in Roxburgh to clinics in Dunedin, Invercargill, Wanaka and Queenstown to meet women and help them get a better fitting prosthesis.
In an individual consultation, she uses a hand-held scanner to capture specific data on a woman’s chest configuration.
Each woman’s chest wall was different, and after a mastectomy there was also often scar tissue which would vary, depending on each person’s surgery and healing experience, she said.
The data was then sent to myReflection’s Auckland headquarters, where a plastic test shell would be made and sent back.
This would then be tested with the client to see if the fit worked well, before a silicone prosthesis was created which was flexible and lighter than other prostheses.
People who had undergone a partial or full mastectomy were entitled to a Ministry of Health breast prosthesis service payment of $613 per side for a 4-year period.
The cost of the prosthesis would be covered by this payment.
Women who had received the prosthesis had said it felt ‘‘amazing’’ and it was very light.
‘‘They just want to feel and look normal,’’ Mrs Sycamore said.
Form fitting. . . Hazel Sycamore, of Roxburgh shows how a simple handheld scanner can create a personalised prosthesis.
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