Mariposa Boutique Consultations

Your Post Mastectomy Options

It still surprises me when a woman spends some time with us at Mariposa and then says, “I never knew these products were available.” She either didn’t know that post-mastectomy bras and prostheses exist, or that her insurance provides coverage for them.

The Legislation Behind Women’s Health Choices

The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (see this link) provides each woman with the ability to choose what she wants after a mastectomy. It not only allows for reconstruction but also for prostheses as an option to help a woman obtain a balanced and symmetrical appearance after breast surgery. In general terms, this means insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, must include benefits that allow for these choices.

The Products

At Mariposa, we carry both non-silicone and silicone prostheses (see https://mariposaoregon.com/mastectomy-products/ for some examples). Within these broad categories are a multitude of options. There are prostheses for women who are very active and sweat a lot. There are prostheses for women who have had partial mastectomies and don’t need a full prosthesis. There are prostheses that weigh less than a pound and others that are heavy. There are so many options available to help you achieve the look and feel that you need and want. And the options for pocketed bras to fit the prostheses inside of are just as varied.

Getting Insurance to Pay

In order to help ladies with this, a post-mastectomy boutique must be accredited as a Durable Medical Equipment facility. This allows us to contract with insurance carriers so that we can process your claim. It also means we must staff our business with Certified Mastectomy Fitters. We have two certified women at Mariposa (https://mariposaoregon.com/about-mariposa-boutique/). Abby and I love helping ladies feel beautiful again. We are well versed in what we need to do to submit your insurance claim and can help figure out what your particular plan coverage is. 

If you are reading this and had no idea you have choices and options, we hope you will allow us the opportunity to introduce you to them and help you navigate the insurance process to obtain them. It would be our honor!

Can Compression Really Help Me?

At Mariposa Boutique, we help a lot of people with compression for a variety of needs. One of the comments we often hear them make before they even leave is “Wow, it feels so good!”

Why Compression Feels Good

Blood and lymphatic fluid flow throughout our body. Ideally these fluids will flow all the way to our hands and feet and then back to our heart and out again. This circulatory process happens continuously without us even realizing it. Until something happens to get in the way. Something as simple as pressure changes during air travel can cause swelling in lower legs and feet. And something more complex like disease or damage can cause swelling in any body part. Swelling is uncomfortable at best and can contribute to more serious health issues at worst. Graduated compression garments help keep swelling down and improve the flow of blood and lymphatic fluid. And this most often feels so good!

What is a “Graduated” Compression Garment?

This simply means that the greatest amount of pressure is at the ankle or wrist. The pressure decreases as the garment goes up the arm or leg. The effect this has on the fluid flow is to push it back towards the heart. But not all garments are graduated. Some, like compression camisoles, will deliver equal pressure throughout the garment. There are so many unique garments available. We discuss a sampling of these on our compression page at: Compression Garments.   

Who Should Wear Compression Garments?

We always recommend that you consult with your primary care doctor or a specialist if you have any health concerns (DVT, skin ulcers, varicose veins) that are leading you to consider compression. If you don’t have a health concern, but maybe you work at a job where you are on your feet the entire workday, then even a low level (15-20mmHg) of compression could possibly help your legs feel less achy and tired at the end of the day. Or if you travel by air, graduated compression stockings could possibly help keep swelling down in your legs. Or maybe you are an extreme sport athlete who wants help with post-exercise muscle recovery (see https://simplifaster.com/articles/compression-garments-performance-recovery/  for info on this).

Regardless of the reason you have for considering compression, we can talk to you about the wide range of available options and help you get the perfect fit for you, so you leave Mariposa saying “Wow, it feels so good!”

womens wigs

Women’s Hair Loss

When dealing with Women’s hair loss, you may look at the shower drain, are you noticing more hair piled up than you used to? I’ve noticed that with the added stress from the COVID pandemic, I seem to be losing more hair. Or maybe it’s just part of aging. There are multiple factors that can lead to women’s hair loss.

Why Women Lose Their Hair

I have been amazed at the variety of reasons women come to Mariposa to purchase wigs. Some, like me, are experiencing hair loss due to stress. Some are losing hair because of hormonal changes, whether natural or medication induced. Many women have thinning hair as they age. Of course, we see a lot of women losing their hair because of chemotherapy treatment for a variety of cancer types. Alopecia, a condition where the immune system attacks the hair follicles, is another cause of hair loss. And sometimes there is a trauma or injury to the scalp that leads to hair loss. Or maybe it was just a bad haircut. I’m sure I haven’t listed all the reasons for women’s hair loss, but these are the most common ones we see.

The Experience of Losing Hair

It’s a struggle and emotionally charged when a woman is losing her hair. It’s an outward manifestation of what’s going on inside of your body. And it’s a reminder each time you look in the mirror or see another person looking at you with a wondering gaze. It can be devastating to have had hair you loved and enjoyed styling piling up in the shower drain. My hair loss hasn’t even become noticeable to anyone but me, but I worry about what I will do if it continues (which probably doesn’t help!). And my situation is minor compared to so many women’s experience. But I do think it’s normal for all of us to want to look like we always have, or maybe even better than we think we have.

A Wig as a Solution

That’s probably one of the things I enjoy most about working with women who come into Mariposa looking for a wig. When we find just the right style or color and they say, “that looks like me!” it’s exciting. And wigs have come a long way with new technology. A current trend we see in women who color their hair, is to have darker roots than the rest of their hair. Now this is a trend in wigs as well. There are also wigs that have lace fronts, parts, and tops which allow natural skin to show through, just like it would with your own hair. And the number of styles, from super short to super long is amazing. You can take a look at a few of the many wigs available on our wig page. We carry Henry Margu wigs and you can see many more on their website. Whether you want to look like you always have, or try something completely new, a wig can be a solution to help with what you are going through. Maybe you’ll see me in one soon too…

Mariposa Exterior

Body Image for the Post Mastectomy Woman

“I hate my boobs!” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked in the mirror and had that thought. I’m not sure if this is a U.S. thing or if women all over the world feel this way. I can say that until I became a Certified Mastectomy Fitter, helping women find mastectomy bras and prostheses after breast surgery, I was sure that most women’s breasts look like the ones we see in the movies or walking down the Las Vegas Strip. I am here to proclaim from the mountain tops, “IT’S NOT TRUE!” How freeing for me it is to know that other women have breasts that look like my imperfect pair. I’m sharing this because I really want women who have had a mastectomy (partial, unilateral, or bilateral) to know that other women look like them too.

Many, not all, of the women who we see at Mariposa are very self-conscious about removing their clothing for our mastectomy fitting appointments. This is understandable. Our breasts are a special part of our female body. First, we have them, and men don’t. Second, they are a natural part of our intimacy with our partners. Third, they are life-nourishing for our babies. There are other reasons that make our breasts special, but these are some of the tops.

So, what happens when a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and has surgery to remove that cancer? Sometimes she feels like she isn’t normal anymore. I know this because I’ve had many women in a fitting appointment look in the mirror, after putting on a pocketed bra and prostheses for the first time post-op, and say “Oh my gosh, I look normal again!” The other thing I’ve noticed is how concerned some women are over their partner’s opinion of how they look. The need for affirmation from the person we are closest to is real. I’ve witnessed some raw emotions in these situations. If there are any men reading this, I think what your partner wants most is your attention on her and what she is going through now. She doesn’t necessarily want you to say she looks perfect just the way she is (she probably won’t believe you) but she does want to know that you are focused on trying to help her make choices that help her feel good about her appearance and make you happy too!

I love working with women and helping them make choices with bras and prostheses that give them confidence. It’s great that many of the products being developed are more comfortable and beautiful than in the past. See this link to see the types of products available: Mastectomy Products.  I’m thankful too that strides continue to be made towards these goals. But what I really want the post-mastectomy woman to hear from this is that “more women look like you (or similar) than you can imagine.” I hope this helps you!