breast forms 101: what you need to know about breast forms

Breast Forms 101

One of the most identifiable part of the female figure is a woman’s natural curves. Often, it’s described as an hourglass: full hips, small waist, and a voluptuous bustline. There’s many ways to enhance the bust to make it look larger: underwire bras, push-ups, enhancers, implants… and breast forms.

“I want world peace… oh, and bigger boobs.”

Phoebe Buffay, Friends

What is a breast form?

The words “breast form” refer to a type of body prosthetic that duplicates the appearance of a natural breast. A breast form is a single breast, and two breast forms is a pair of breasts. They are also known as breast prostheses, breast prosthetics, silicone falsies, external implants, breast explants, and mastectomy forms.

What are breast forms used for?

Breast forms are meant to duplicate the physical appearance of natural breast tissue. In short, wearing breast forms gives you the appearance of having boobs. They date back to the 1870s, and were often made using uncomfortable or unrealistic materials. Although women would consider wearing breast forms for cosmetic reasons, before this time most were worn to replace a breast lost to breast cancer.

The modern breast form was invented in the 1960s using silicones. With this invention, external breast implants (soon to become known as breast forms) started becoming a popular option as an alternative to breast implant surgeries, which at the time could lead to infections or even be deadly.

What kinds of breast forms are there?

Over the last sixty years, there are many types available in a variety of materials. Here’s some of the most common types you’ll find:

  • Fabric, cotton-filled, foam
    Often found as a way to safely sleep with forms or as an inexpensive way to change your breast size with a certain outfit. Some can be approved for medical use, but most are more of a lifestyle product
  • Latex or cyber skin
    More of an adult novelty toy than a body prosthetic, latex forms create the appearance of a breast using cheap materials often found in marital aid products. These prosthetics are not meant to be used for medical purposes, and can be dangerous against the skin (especially if one has a latex allergy)
  • Silicone & polyurethane
    Quite possibly the most common type available, they are made using a liquid silicone gel encased in a polyurethane material that looks like a plastic skin. There is a huge range of sizes and styles, and are the most common types of forms approved by the FDA, EU and Health Canada as a medical device
  • 100% silicone
    Hand crafted by artisans and makeup artists, 100% silicone prostehtics are designed for visual appearance over medical necessity. They are usually the most realistic looking, but are not always approved as a medical device

What type of breast form is right for me?

Just like there are many types of bodies, there are many types of forms! It is important to keep in mind what you are using your forms for:

I want to have breasts because…The type of breast forms I should look for are…
I have had breast cancer (mastectomy, lumpectomy)Medical style forms
Important: If you are claiming your forms as a medical expense, make sure your insurance company will cover breast forms. Most insurance companies will only cover FDA approved products like ones from Amoena
I have breasts, but I want to be bustierBreast enhancers or concave breast forms
I do not have natural breasts, and I want to feel like I have breastsRealistic feeling forms made from silicone & polyurethane
I do not have natural breasts, and I want to look like I have breasts when I am nudeRealistic looking forms made by special effects artists

Why is there such a range in price for silicone breast forms?

When it comes to silicone forms, there are a few reasons why prices can range from very cheap (under $100) to very expensive (over $1000). Here’s a couple of reasons why:

If the breast prosthetics are designed for a post-mastectomy woman, it is treated like a medical device. This means that the breast forms and the facility they are made in must follow ISO regulations as a company that makes medical devices. The form itself must also be registered and approved by the government as a medical device (this is done by the FDA in the United States and Health Canada in Canada).

When a breast prosthetic is identified as a medical device, it is something that can be claimed on personal health insurance. All of these things require lots of paperwork and investment, so most medical silicone breast forms will retail at $250 or more per side, or $500 or more per pair. It is not to say that these are better quality, but that they have been approved to be used for medical reasons.

There are also forms that are made by these same companies that are designed for transgender women. Transgender breast forms are much more affordable; they use all of the same ingredients and design, but they do not have to go through the certification to be used as a post-surgery medical device. For this reason, transgender breast forms can easily be half the price of expensive medical silicone forms. It’s a great choice for full time trans women who don’t want top surgery, cross dressers, gender fluid persons, drag queens, and even post-mastectomy women who do not have insurance coverage for their breast prosthetics.

The cheapest silicone breast forms you will find are often made in second or third world countries, like China or Paraguay. Products originating in these countries do not have to follow the same stringent health and safety rules and product testing as products from Europe or North America have to go through. Although there are some very good products that are made in these countries, it is best to keep in mind that you may get what you pay for when purchasing from a non-trusted manufacturer or retailer.

The most expensive kind of forms on the market are the special effects breast forms made by artisans that specialize in silicone prosthetics. This is because they are designed, crafted and finished by hand for the most realistic appearance. Most artisans will only use the highest quality silicones and materials, but because it is crafted by hand rather than by a big factory, they are also not approved as a medical device.

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