NON-INVASIVE ENHANCEMENT OF THE BREASTS? BUYER BEWARE
An online search for the term “breast enhancement creams” will yield a 20-page result listing balms, creams, pills, lotions, and potions which claim to enhance breast size by 1-2 cup sizes. The market for these creatively named items has increased dramatically, and some of the more popular brands have even recruited celebrities for endorsement on various social media platforms. Several products appear to have developed a cult-like following, with consumers posting their own before and after photos. However, the efficacy and safety of these products remains unclear.
The basis for the products claims is that their ingredients stimulate growth of the skin and mammary glands. The ingredients selected typically behave like estrogen, or promote the production of estrogen. The body then reacts as it would during puberty or pregnancy, renewing the growth of glandular tissue of the breasts to produce an increase in size. In an attempt to cut through the marketing and evaluate safety and efficacy, we’ve selected a few of the most popular breast enhancement agents for review.
BustBoom: an oral supplement of one pill per day which claims to increase cup size, lift and firm sagging breasts, clear the complexion, boost libido, and relieve premenstrual and menopausal symptoms. Phytoestrogens are used to stimulate estrogen and promote the growth of breast tissue. Continuous use is required to maintain results. The ingredients include Cnicus benedictus, Cimicifuga racemosa, Tumera diffusa, Taraxaci herba, Foeniculum vulgare, Serenoa repens, Nasturtium officinale, Dioscorea billosa, and Dong Quai extract.
Cost: $30 for 1 month supply
Customer reviews: 2 ½ stars
BustBomb: a topical cream which is applied to the breasts, and which claims to use a paraben-free and hormone-free formula to increase cup size, lift breasts, relieve premenstrual symptoms, clear acne, and enhance libido. Three months are required to achieve maximum results. The ingredients include deionized water, Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) oil, Behentrimonium methosulfate, cetearyl alcohol, witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) extract, cetyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, polydimethylsiloxane, caprylic/capric triglyceride, phenoxyethanol, caprylyl glycol, sorbic acid, stearic acid, wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) extract, milk thistle (Silybum marianum) extract, motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) extract, fragrance, and sodium hydroxide.
Cost: $40 for 1 month supply
Customer reviews: 4 stars
BustMaxx: an oral supplement which claims to be the only pharmaceutical-grade breast enlargement formula on the market. The manufacturer claims that they use a proprietary blend of “mastogenic” herbs which increase breast size by stimulating new cell growth in the mammary glands. Two pills are required daily with meals. Best results are seen after 6 months although results may be seen as early as 1-2 months after beginning treatment. The ingredients include saw palmetto powder (berries), fennel seed powder, wild Mexican yam powder (root), blessed thistle powder (whole herb), L-tyrosine, Atlantic kelp powder (whole plant), Damiana leaf powder, motherwort powder (whole herb), Dong Quai root extract (std. min. 1% ligustilides), and fenugreek Seed Powder.
Cost: $30-$35 for 1 month supply
Customer reviews: 4 stars
Naturaful: a topical cream which also claims to use a blend of “mastogenic” herbs which have been proven to increase breast size by stimulating new cell growth. The cream must be used indefinitely to maintain results. A 1-2 cup size increase is promised within 6 months. The ingredients include sabal, damiana, Dong Quai, blessed thistle, dandelion root, oat bran, wild Mexican yam, and motherwort.
Cost: $80 for a 1 month supply
Customer reviews: 3 ½ stars
PureLeef: a topical lotion which claims to increase breast size within 2 months by using natural ingredients that stimulate the proliferation of adipocytes (fat cells), thereby plumping the breasts. It is primarily marketed for augmentation of the buttocks. Continuous use is required. The ingredients include purified water (aqua), Anemarrhena asphodeloides (root) extract, Macelignan (Myristica fragans), Macadamia oil (Macadamia ternifolia), White Oil, cyclomethicone, dimethicone, cetearyl alcohol, polysorbate 60, isopropyl myristate, squalane, hyaluronic acid, phenoxyethanol, menthol, ethylhexylglycerin, Vitis vinifera (grape seed) oil, Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, coconut oil (Cocos nucifera), Aloe barbadenis leaf Juice, tocopherol, hydrogenated polyisobutene, Chaga mushroom extract, and alcohol (denatured).
Cost: $50 for 1 month supply
Customer reviews: unknown, but there are some interesting before/after photos on the company’s website.
As a physician, I have several concerns with the above products and their claims. First, none of these products have been reviewed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding their safety and efficacy. Statements that the product has been “made and packaged in an FDA registered and inspected facility” do not substitute for actual FDA approval of the product, and it is frankly misleading when companies use this claim as part of their marketing. The creams and lotions listed above can technically be considered to be cosmeceutical agents, which do not require approval. However, oral supplements which claim to create physical changes of the breasts by stimulating hormones absolutely should be studied by the FDA prior to sale or use. One of the issues with the stimulation of hormones and breast tissue growth is the unknown effect this may have on an underlying malignancy of the breast, or in potential stimulation of a new malignancy. Another issue is the lack of any controlled, randomized study which demonstrates the use of herbal extracts to increase breast size, when administered either topically or orally.
Although as a plastic surgeon I have a natural bias towards the use of implants for breast augmentation, I am assured when using these medical devices that they are extremely well-studied, regulated, and fully approved by the FDA. Both saline and silicone gel implants have a very long track record of safety, and can provide immediate and predictable results for patients. While a quick and inexpensive fix, such as a topical cream or oral supplement, may seem attractive, bear in mind that the use of an unstudied medication for physical changes can have potentially serious consequences that would far outweigh the cost of surgery.