Breast Enhancement

Get the facts

For cosmetic and aesthetic reasons, many women who desire an increase in bust size and improvement in breast firmness resort to natural and synthetic breast enhancement options to achieve their desired outcome. The wide variety of breast enhancement pills, vacuum pump bras and breast enhancement surgery options can make it difficult for women to unravel and understand the breast enhancement options available at their disposal.

Herbal Breast Enhancement

Breast growth begins at the onset of puberty and continues for several years afterwards. During puberty, the pituitary gland secretes hormones that enlarge the breasts. Even after a woman's growth spurt ceases, however, breast size often increases when estrogen levels are elevated, as in pregnant women.

Phytoestrogen herbs, the sources of herbal breast enhancement, contain plant-based estrogen-like properties. Among many others, one side effect of phyto-estrogens is a possible increase in breast size.

Phytoestrogen herbs such as fennel seed, fenugreek, saw palmetto and wild yam are sold by herbal manufacturers in pill form. These herbs, when taken together, can initiate breast growth and balance out estrogen-related deficiencies or imbalances, causing a gradual increase in breast size and noticeable increase in breast firmness. A gradual increase of one to two cup sizes over a period of six months to a year is possible. The herbs are generally taken in pill form but herbal creams, which can be massaged into the skin, are also available.

Individual results vary and herbal breast enhancement is not guaranteed to work as each woman's body chemistry is unique. Those who wish to try breast enhancement pills can find a wide selection at herbal stores and Internet retailers. Costs can range from $20 to $60 for a one-month supply, and pills can take as long as four to six months to take effect. Some women have found that the benefits cease once the user stops taking the pills, while other women have enjoyed permanent results with herbal breast enhancement.

Breast enhancement pills are not known to interfere with contraceptive pills, however, these herbs are marketed as dietary supplements and thus are not FDA-approved or regulated. Any woman wishing to try breast enhancement pills should consult her physician before taking the product.

Breast Augmentation Surgery

When used to enlarge the breast, breast augmentation surgery is considered a cosmetic surgery, used primarily for women who desire a significant increase in breast size and firmness. It is also a good option for women who desire to correct a size difference between the breasts, or reverse a breast size reduction following childbirth.

An incision is made, either in the armpit or crease underneath the breast, and a silicone or saline implant is placed. Saline implants are salt-water filled implants that resemble natural bodily fluids and thus are safely absorbed by the body in the event of a rupture or breakage. Silicone implants give the breasts a more natural and softer feel, however the FDA has previously expressed concerns over the safety of silicone rupture and leakage.

The implant itself can be rounded, anatomically shaped or smooth, and placed under the breast tissue or under the pectoral muscle, depending on the natural contours of the body and the desired shape, size and effect. The plastic surgeon, in consultation with the patient, will explain the best implant and size options as well as risks and complications associated with the surgery.

Complications aside, the recovery process is relatively rapid, as soreness generally fades within five weeks, although scars can take up to six months or longer to fully fade.

Breast augmentation is a lasting and reversible option for women, but the implants themselves are not permanent, so follow-up surgery is likely. Implants can rupture, tear, leak or distort, especially if the woman becomes pregnant after the surgery. They will likely need to be replaced after 10 to 15 years, perhaps even sooner.

A breast augmentation procedure typically ranges in cost from $4,000 to $8,000. Women considering breast augmentation surgery as a breast enhancement option should speak to their family physician. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons' website also offers useful information about breast augmentation surgery.

By Paola Fanutti