The next breast thing


  • Health
  • Sunday, 05 Jan 2003

Want bigger breasts without the fuss of surgery? The makers of the new non-surgical Brava system claim that its suction-bra can boost your bust by as much as a cup size in a little over two months. REENA GURBAKSH finds out how. 

A black mesh bra holds the Brava domes in place and a smart box that sits in a pouch in the front regulates the suction.

WHEN it comes to breast enlargement, it’s always been a case of “no pain, no gain” – literally. This is because it’s the surgeon’s scalpel – not padded bras, motherhood or any fancy cream – that has provided the fail-proof route to bountiful bosoms so far. 

All that’s set to change, however: In what must surely be the most uplifting news for small-breasted women in a long time, an American plastic surgeon has developed a suction system called Brava that can help women increase their bust size without surgery or pain.  

The star of this new device is a space-age looking bra that latches on to your bosom and wills it to blossom with the use of suction. While it won’t exactly produce the cleavage of Dolly Parton or Pamela Anderson, it can boost your bosom by a whole cup size – and in the As, Bs and Cs of bustdom, that is definitely noteworthy. 

“It won’t give you huge breasts if that’s what you’re looking for,” says Dr Victor Cheong matter-of-factly. The managing director of Brava Systems (M) Sdn Bhd explains: “Brava is for women who want bigger breasts without having to resort to silicone.’’ 

The silicone-free alternative has certainly been a huge selling point: “A lot of women are open to trying Brava because it’s non-surgical and completely natural.’’ 

According to him, research conducted in the United States shows that only 1% of women are willing to go for silicone implants. Other studies indicate that many women are afraid of the side effects of surgery, which include loss of nipple sensation and the likelihood of a repeat operation.  

With all these doubts and uncertainty, growing your own breasts the Brava way may sound like a good idea, although it may appear a little incredible. But Dr Cheong is quick to reassure that the device works on a medically sound principle that has been well tested – although not quite in this manner – for almost three decades. 

“The system is based on reconstructive techniques that have been applied in plastic surgery for the last 30 years,” he says. “It uses tension induced growth to expand existing tissue, just like a surgeon would in reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy. The same principle is used in places like China to elongate bones for people who want to add a few inches in height.” 

The Brava system was designed and marketed in the United States last year by Dr Roger Khouri, a plastic surgeon who devoted most of his practice to doing breast reconstruction on cancer patients. He first stumbled onto the idea of using this non-surgical method for breast enhancement almost a decade ago and began developing prototypes for women to try out. 

A review by Carolyne Weaver in a US edition of Elle tells of how the doctor initially drew guffaws at the 1999 annual meeting of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, but later won the prize for best scientific paper which was published in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal in June 2000. But what really garnered attention for Brava was the fact that his initial group of guinea pigs’ found their new cleavage didn’t ‘deflate’ even after a prolonged period. (If seeing is believing, then check out the before-and-after pictures at www.brava.com)  

Dr Cheong, however, remains clinical amidst all this hoorah about life-long new breasts: “I’d be more comfortable using the word ‘long-lasting’ rather than ‘permanent’,” he insists. 

How does the Brava kit work? Khouri’s bust booster consists of a large pair of plastic suction domes that are fitted over the breasts and held in place by a snug sports bra. The domes are available in four depth sizes – small, medium, large and extra large – and the one that suits a user most will depend on breast size and body shape.  

A “smart box” sits in a pouch at the front of the bra and controls the suction levels in the domes. There’s even an alarm that rings when there is a leak that causes pressure levels to fall, although most times the smart box will spring into action and re-vacuum the domes! 

In practise, Brava’s vacuum-induced bra stretches the breast tissue over a period of time and the tissue reciprocates by swelling and replicating until the cells multiply to accommodate the stretch force. And since more cells need a larger volume of space – voila, your breasts will respond by expanding in size to house these new “inhabitants”.  

“Breast suction is not new, but before this high suction was used for a short period of time and found to be unsuccessful. This uses low pressure over a longer period and the results have been very encouraging,” says Dr Cheong, who has tried the Brava system on 10 women here, all of whom are “very delighted” with the results. 

One user says: “I had pretty sizeable breasts but after I stopped breastfeeding my third baby, they shrunk permanently. Surgery was never an option, so Brava’s been a real godsend. I’ve used it for five weeks and the results have been fabulous.’’ 

Women are encouraged to wear the device for a minimum of 10 hours a day for 10 weeks, and due to the size of the domes – which have been described as Barbarella meets Lara Croft – overnight use is recommended.  

“A follow up study in the United States has shown that the best results come through usage for longer periods. If you use it for 14 hours, the progress is a lot more rapid and dramatic. Women who can’t afford the time to wear it for that many hours during the week tend to play catch-up during the weekend.” 

The “results” are almost immediate, the doctor says: “After the first night of use, you’ll wake up in the morning and think ‘this is great’, but a lot of it is swelling, which will subside by the end of the day. Every day, you’ll notice a little bit of actual growth and at the end of the first week, breast growth is definitely noticeable.” 

There is no “maximum” period of use (although the domes generally only survive three to four months of repeated daily use) and Dr Cheong laughingly tells of instances where women who’ve finished the recommended period of use put on the domes to firm their breasts before “a big night out”. 

“Even women as old as 60 have used it in the United States and it’s worked.” 

According to him, not every woman will respond to Brava at the same rate. “There are rapid, average and slow responders. Rapid responders are usually women who have given birth, breast fed or have had bigger breasts and then lost them. Slow responders include women who have very small breasts to start with, or who are very fit and have a low percentage of body fat.” 

(Because of the way it works, Brava also provides a significant amount of “lift” for women who suffer from mild droopiness, as well as grow breasts on men although they would most likely fall under the “slow responder” category!) 

No major side effects have been noted apart from getting used to wearing the cumbersome torpedo-sized bra (which includes not being able to sleep on your tummy) as well as the initial discomfort and itchiness due to all the stretching and swelling.  

Time magazine tells of a now defunct website called Brav-Argh that was set up by the first batch of users – there’s now a cream that’s been specially designed to alleviate these symptoms. 

“What it does require is commitment because of the length of time of use,” says Dr Cheong. “If you don’t use it correctly, your breasts don’t grow.” (You’ll discover that the kit comes with a 90-day warranty period, but this covers only mechanical parts, not bodily ones that refuse to grow!) 

A starter pack costs just over RM7,000 and is available through selected plastic surgeons. Qualified medical personnel will first conduct a full examination of the breasts to determine suitability, but Brava is not recommended for women who are pregnant, breast-feeding or have a family history of cancer. 

For more information, call 03-2287 8569 or e-mail treamyx.com.  

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