A student at the University of Plymouth has teamed up with her friend to develop a colourful prosthetic breast for women who have had a mastectomy.
Rosie Brave, who is studying a Masters in Digital Art and Technology, was inspired to make a difference after hearing about her friend’s mother’s struggle with the prosthetic breast she was given following surgery.
Around 18,000 mastectomies take place on the NHS every year, and of those, around a fifth choose to have immediate breast reconstruction. For those who don’t go down that route, the NHS currently offers breast prostheses that can go inside a specialised bra with a pocket, or a normal bra.
Part of the issue with the prosthesis was that it was beige, and it was bland, and it didn’t match her skin tone. It was trying to look real but failing.
We just thought it was much more interesting to depart from trying to be realistic at all, and have some fun with it.
The design process involved Rosie and her friend Sam running workshops and focus groups, including with women who have had mastectomies and use a prosthesis. One of the main pieces of feedback from the women was to make sure the new design addressed the heaviness and hotness of the one available through the NHS.
The standard NHS prosthesis is hot, heavy and sweaty to wear.
That’s why we started to create things that were breathable, with an open structure that would let the air pass through.
Some of the people we spoke to had this attitude of ‘oh well, it doesn’t matter, I don’t matter, I just have to get on with it’. They’re used to the way things have always been, and they don’t expect their prosthesis to be something fun that gives them joy. I think there’s an opportunity to change that.
Rosie and Sam are currently looking for investors to take their design to the next stage. They are also planning an exhibition of the prototypes next year on International Women’s Day featuring the women who took part in the design process.
You can find out more about their project on their website: https://www.wewearboost.com
Image from the University of Plymouth