After total mastectomy, many women choose to wear external breast prosthesis rather than undergo breast reconstruction. The purpose of this study was to evaluate long-term satisfaction among external breast prosthesis wearers and the impact of satisfaction on prosthesis use. A questionnaire was designed to assess demographic information, prosthesis information provision, prosthesis use, and satisfaction with prosthesis. Fifty-nine women who had undergone total mastectomy without breast reconstruction completed the questionnaire. The majority of women (68%) were at least 5 years out from mastectomy. Approximately half (49%) of the women had received information about breast prostheses prior to mastectomy; 29% received information from the surgeon performing the operation. Frequent and prolonged prosthesis use was prevalent with 64% of participants reporting prosthesis use all the time, 6-7 days/week. Participants showed high rates (83%) of overall satisfaction. However, women who wore their prosthesis out in public only were less satisfied than more frequent wearers (50% versus 89%, chi(2) = 8.83, d.f. = 1, alpha = 0.05). Satisfaction increased over time, as women who were greater than 5 years out from mastectomy were more satisfied than women less that 5 years post-mastectomy (90% versus 67%, chi(2) = 4.43, d.f. = 1, alpha = 0.05). The vast majority of women are satisfied with their external breast prosthesis several years after mastectomy. Most women used their prosthesis all the time and overall satisfaction contributed to higher levels of prosthesis use. Given the long-term importance of external breast prostheses for women who have undergone mastectomy, a greater effort to inform patients about external breast prostheses prior to surgery is needed.