Finally, affordable prostheses for breast cancer survivors

Mechanical engineer Nneile Nkholise has developed affordable prostheses for breast cancer survivors.
Mechanical engineer Nneile Nkholise has developed affordable prostheses for breast cancer survivors.

For women with breast cancer, having a mastectomy can be a traumatising experience. Breasts are a sexual part of a woman’s body, and having one or both lost to cancer is difficult to cope with on a number of levels.

Enter South African mechanical engineer Nneile Nkholise, who decided to use her know-how to create an affordable alternative to breast implants – using cutting-edge 3D printing tech.

She started thinking about the topic in 2013, while researching for her Masters. Now, she’s using the business she created, iMedTech Group, to help mastectomy patients.

Read more: 4 awkward boob questions you actually need answered asap

How it works

“It’s quite amazing that 3D printing has evolved over the years and now we’re having more normal desktop printers that are quite affordable to create the mould,” said Nkholise on CapeTalk’s Pippa Hudson show. The 3D printer creates a mould for the breast prostheses. 

“After creating the mould, we then cast silicone inside the mould to create the final prosthesis,” she said. They’ve got standard sizes, ranging from sizes one to three, and customised prostheses. The affected area is scanned and a mould is printed. It’s wonderfully straightforward.

Read more: 7 ways to keep your breasts happy and healthy

How much is it?

Most breast implants are hugely expensive, starting from R3 000. iMedTech’s start from just R900.

“The prices are from R900 to R1 800, depending on the size,” Nkholise told CapeTalk. Right now, her goal is to gift breast prostheses to 1 000 women who can’t afford it.

Listen to her full segment on CapeTalk below:

This article was originally published on

Image credit: iStock

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