After Cancer: Designing Your Own 3D Breast

BALTIMORE, Md. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Cancer patients who undergo mastectomies may choose to have breast reconstruction, while others may decide to skip further surgery and opt for a prosthesis. New technology is making breast design precise, faster and much easier for cancer patients.

Shopping for bras used to be a challenge for Helen Battaglia Commodori but that’s nothing compared to fighting breast cancer, not once but twice. First, in 1986 at age 35.

“Ten years to that month in June 1996 it recurred in that same breast. Stage two. At that point I opted for double mastectomy with reconstruction,” said Battaglia Commodori.

Infection after surgery meant the implants had to come out. Now, 20 years later, Battaglia Commodori is turning to new technology to redefine her shape. Soft stickers on Battaglia Commodori’s chest and torso are the first step in a three-dimensional scanning process.

Certified mastectomy fitter Elisa Lawson uses her tablet to record a precise image of Battaglia Commodori’s chest. Until recently, patients would have to undergo a molding process.

“When this process started 15 years ago we came in with a bucket of water and plaster and literally wrapped mesh around patients,” explained Elisa Lawson, a Certified Mastectomy Fitter at Mercy Medical Center.

Now it’s 15 minutes of digital imaging, and several weeks of production time for a prosthesis that’s a perfect fit.

Lawson said, “The beauty of the custom breast form is that we’re recreating on the back of the form the image of the chest wall, so it fits like a puzzle.”

“They’re lightweight. They’re comfortable. You’d never know I didn’t have breasts,” said Battaglia Commodori.

The breast forms are covered by most private insurance companies. Lawson says the custom designed prosthetic breasts are lightweight, and can be worn in swimwear.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field and Supervising Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.