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Swimming with Prosthesis

Wibby's picture
Posts: 27
Joined: May 2008

I finished treatments in June 2008 and I finally began swimming again in January and have worked up to a mile - very slow but steady. I purchased a "swimming" prosthesis, but it doesn't fit as well as my other prosthesis as it is a size larger. I am rather small - I use the smallest prosthesis available, however, I haven't been able to find that size for swimming. I'm not sure what the difference is, but "they" make one specifically for swimming. I find the prosthesis to be very uncomfortable while I'm swimming. It feels like it is pushing through my ribs. It's also larger than my other breast. I finally went "without" on Friday and it was very freeing. I know there are some swimmers in this wonderful group and I wondered what your experiences are. Do you use a prosthesis? Do you know of any that are comfortable? What do you recommend?
Thanks for your input!

lynn1950's picture
Posts: 2574
Joined: Jun 2008

Wow, Wibby! I am a backsliding swimmer.

I haven't tried to wear a prosthesis, ever, so I was interested in your experience. I used to swim a mile regularly before cancer. I resumed swimming in September while I was in radiation at a pool away from home near the treatment center. I have had problems with both shoulders since January (I had bilateral mastectomies, the right side prophylactic). The right shoulder is beginning to feel better, but the left side (cancer side) is just not healing. I went to a physical therapist, and have exercises to strengthen my shoulder muscles, but progress is slow, slow, slow. I guess I am trying to say, be careful of your shoulders!

Have you looked at a Land's End catalog? They sell mastectomy swimsuits. I am not sure if that would be helpful. I wonder what to do to protect exposed skin when the days get sunnier, as the pool I swim at is an outdoor one (fed by a hot spring).

Sorry I am not very helpful about a comfortable prosthesis.

mmontero38's picture
Posts: 1532
Joined: Dec 2007

Hi Libby, my shoulder gave me a very rough time also. I guess that from babying the arm with the fear of lymphedema, it actually froze where I couldn't lift it at all or extend my arm out. I went to about 30 therapy sessions before I started to feel better. I am now lifting light weights and strengthening the muscles. I hope to resume golfing this spring. Hugs, Lili

mmontero38's picture
Posts: 1532
Joined: Dec 2007

Hi Libby, before I had my reconstruction I purchased 2 prosthesis. One for daily wear and the other was for swimming. Mine was made of silicone and was a see through gel. I actually liked it better than my regular prosthesis because it was much lighter in weight. What I did to go swimming was place the prosthesis under the bra (shelf) support inside the bathing suit and mine stayed fine. If the prosthesis doesn't fit right you should return it for a smaller one. Hugs, Lili

PS: I purchased mine in Nordstroms as they were with my insurance network.

Posts: 272
Joined: Feb 2004

I had a bilaterial mastectomy in February 2003. Once I healed, the local prosthetics shop fitted me with Amoena silicone breast forms (Amoena Bella # 2114). Their weight approximates my breasts so bras don't ride up, they look and feel very natural and I find them very comfortable. When I realized that the chlorine in pools and ocean salt would damage them, I went in search of "swimmers." Turns out Amoena makes the Amoena Swim Breast Form Model 129, very similar to the forms I wear every day. I found mine here if you'd like to take a look:

mmontero38's picture
Posts: 1532
Joined: Dec 2007

Those were exactly the ones I purchased in Nordstroms. Thanks, since I couldn't remember the model number.

Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

I tried a swimming prosthesis and it worked okay, but mine was the right size at the time. I wonder if you could get the right size by mail-order or over the internet. I noticed that Jodee's carries a 32AA. (1-800-821-2767, no internet site). If not, when I went down a few pounds and had to get a smaller "regular" prosthesis, I decided to do away with the swimming prosthesis. I was a 34 "A" and the weight of the prosthesis really didn't make the swimsuit sag even when wet. I know the chlorine might cause some wear, but the prosthesis can be replaced every 2 years with my insurance and I don't swim that often. Anyhow, I decided to try just using that. I usually use the swimsuits from Lands End because they have pockets made for the prosthesis and look reasonable. So far, so good. If you swim regularly though, a good swimming prosthesis might save money.

C. Abbott

Posts: 826
Joined: Jun 2007

The American Cancer Society also has a magazine you can order on line, or ask about it at your Dr's office. It is called TLC, and offers many things for cancer survivors, including prostheses, camisoles, swimsuits...I do think it would be good to get someone who knows about breast cancer to help with the fitting. I have had a bilateral mastectomy and currently have expanders...I plan to have reconstruction, so I have no experience with prostheses myself. I hope you are able to find what you are comfortable with soon. I guess you have thought about it, but if you get a Dr. to prescribe it your insurance may help pay.

Best wishes, seof

lynn1950's picture
Posts: 2574
Joined: Jun 2008

I'm bumping these messages up. Hope they help. xoxoxoxo Lynn

VickiSam's picture
Posts: 9085
Joined: Aug 2009

amazing - and interesting subject.

Vicki Sam

khsherwood's picture
Posts: 33
Joined: Jan 2011

Hi,I'm a masters swimmer, which means I compete regularly in swim meets for adults age 19 and up. I had a mastectomy back in 1999. I never wear a prosthesis when I swim. Adding something to my bathing suit would just slow me down and get in my way.. When I walk around on the deck I wrap a towel around my shoulders. No one has ever said anything to me about it. I always wear dark colored suits, black or blue usually. When I'm at the beach I will wear suits that have molded cups and I often have a long t-shirt or cover -up on too. I swim between one and two miles three or four times a week. When I'm underwater who cares what people think? My love of swimming is more important to me than what I look like in a bathing suit. I hope as breast cancer survivors we can rise above it.

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