3D Printed Prosthetic Breast Grant Awarded to UConn Health

A view of the UConn Health campus.
UConn Health's app and patient portal help provide personal health care service in the midst of the COVID-19 panic. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health photo)

The Connecticut Breast Health Initiative has awarded a $50,000 grant to the Biomedical Engineering Department at UConn Health.   The grant announced during Breast Cancer Awareness month is the largest of three to be awarded.  It will be used to fund its Personalized 3D Printed Breast Forms Project, which will create personalized 3D breast forms for breast cancer patients who have had a mastectomy but have not had breast reconstruction.

The personalized, 3D printed, form will replace the standard form which women say are uncomfortable, heavy, sweaty, and not an exact match.  The 3D printed breast form is a prosthetic that will not be implanted but used within a bra or swimsuit to restore symmetry and aesthetics.

This form will be different from those made previously, due to recent advances in 3D scanners and 3D bioprinters.  It will be a 3D porous lattice covered with a breathable fabric that is a match in both the front and back of the women’s shape.  It is an advance that will make a difference in women’s lives as they navigate the challenges of breast cancer.

“This new design for a breast prosthesis will have a significant impact on our patients’ quality of life after mastectomy. We are excited to be able to offer it to our patients at UConn Health,” said Christina Stevenson, MD, MS, FACS, Associate Professor of Surgery at UConn Health.

The funds will strengthen the partnership between UConn Health Biomedical Engineering and the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center, and confidential feedback will be sought from women to further optimize the design.

“This research project will allow me, and the female engineering .students assisting me, directly help women cancer survivors overcome challenges and concerns over their appearance post-mastectomy,” added Liisa Kuhn, BS, MS, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at UConn Health.

“The entire CT BHI Board of Directors and its Grant Committee are thrilled to support UConn Health’s 3D personalized breast form project. As the daughter of a 32-year survivor dealing with mastectomy issues, I know very clearly how important this leading-edge development is for post-mastectomy patients who do not choose reconstruction,” said Joyce Bray, President, Board of Directors, Connecticut Breast Health Initiative (CT BHI).  “This is truly groundbreaking! I love the project even more because the UConn School of Biomedical Engineering women faculty and students made it happen.”