Do Breast Enlargement Pumps Work? Not Really, Studies Show
- Breast enlargement pumps are a non-surgical method of increasing breast size.
- They are based on the principle of tissue expansion in response to stretching.
- Some clinical trials have shown that these devices can produce results.
- However, they suffer from significant drawbacks that limit their usability.
Studies show that up to 70% of women are dissatisfied with the size or shape of their breasts, with 28% of women surveyed stating that they would like to have larger breasts. Women who are less satisfied with their breast size are also more likely to report lower self esteem and more anxiety over their appearance.
While breast augmentation procedures have long been an established and successful practice, many women are understandably reluctant to undergo surgery. This has led to the emergence of non-surgical approaches to breast enlargement; in this article, we explore one of these methods — breast enlargement pumps.
What are breast enlargement pumps?
Breast enlargement pumps are devices that rely on the concept of suction in an attempt to expand and enlarge the breast tissue. Most of these devices are made of the following components:
- Two silicone or plastic “domes” with cushioned edges that function as a seal
- A battery-powered controller (the pump)
- Tubing to connect the dome and the pump
Some devices also come with a vest-like bra to contain and conceal the system. Low-cost models may come with a manual hand pump instead of a battery-powered one.
What benefits do manufacturers claim?
These devices were created to fill a market need for women who desire bigger breasts but do not want to go under the knife.
Because they rely on mechanical principles — as opposed to creams and pills that can interfere with hormones — manufacturers claim that this is the only true nonsurgical, natural breast enlargement method available today.
Breast augmentation pumps are not strictly regulated by the authorities, leading some manufacturers to make unrealistic promises like a significant increase in size after just a few weeks of use, zero chance of side effects, and permanent results.
In the following sections, we examine these claims more closely.
How do they work?
Breast enhancement pumps work in much the same way as suction cups — the dome covers the breast, forming a good seal, then the air is sucked out of the space inside the dome by the pump. This creates negative pressure (suction) on the breast that physically pulls the breast tissue towards the dome.
Since the dome entirely covers the breast from the outside, the breast is stretched in all directions.
Stretching a tissue stimulates the cells to up-regulate their division rate, deposit more connective tissue between the cells, and realign themselves to expand in the direction in which they were stretched. This concept is called stretch-induced tissue expansion, and is used in a number of medical applications.
The bulk of the breast is composed of fat and mammary glands (the milk production system). Both components can respond to tissue expansion. “This negative pressure increases cell signaling, causing more blood supply to develop in tissues and results in increases in tissue mass,” explains Denver, CO plastic surgeon Dr. Manish Shah.
Do breast augmentation pumps actually work?
A number of studies were conducted to evaluate this technique and concluded that breast enlargement systems can in fact result in an increase in breast size.
However, there are a number of limitations to these devices, otherwise, they would have already overtaken traditional breast implants in popularity.
The main limitation is that these devices require a significant commitment and time investment before you can see any results.
In one study, women had to wear them for 10 to 12 hours a day for at least 10 weeks. It does not help that the devices are often large, cumbersome, and difficult to conceal under clothing.
Even when used correctly, the gains that can be achieved are modest. “Continued safe use should produce small growth gains with time. Most patients can get between 1/2 to 1 cup size maximum increase in breast size,” says Dr. Shah.
According to this report published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, the average size increase achieved in trials was 100 cc, which is a much smaller gain than what can be achieved with traditional breast augmentation.
Another problem is that the consistent stretch can result in breast inflammation and edema (swelling), which can add to the discomfort as well as make the increase in size appear more significant than it actually is.
As this swelling subsides, the size of the breast will rebound, reducing some of the gain in size. “The non-permanent results, along with patients’ inability to continuously use the device for 10 weeks has made it less popular than it once was,” says Dr. Jacob Freiman, a plastic surgeon based in Miami.
No studies have yet been conducted to evaluate the long-term permanence of results after discontinuation of use of the device.
Other applications for breast enhancement pumps
Some physicians have begun recommending these systems as an adjunct to fat transfer breast augmentation, in which fat from the patient’s body is taken and injected into the breast.
According to Dr. Shah, this may result in a better outcome than when breast fat transfer is performed alone.
“This makes the breast more receptive to fat grafting, so a higher percentage of grafted fat can theoretically survive,” agrees Dr. Elliot Hirsch, a Los Angeles-based plastic surgeon.
Are there any side effects?
Overly aggressive use of these systems can result in pain, inflammation, nerve damage, blood clots, and cutting off of blood flow to the skin which can cause skin necrosis (tissue death).
On their website, Noogleberry, a breast pump manufacturer, advises women with a history of blood clotting problems, breast cysts, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women, against using their devices.
Most patients will experience some degree of skin irritation in the form of redness, itching, rash, or blisters. In one study, 35.7% of the patients experienced blistering severe enough to discontinue the treatment until the skin healed.
When using a manual hand pump-type device, users can sometimes make the suction pressure too high or too low. A high pressure can cause more side effects, while a low one may be ineffective at tissue expansion.
Overview of popular breast enlargement pumps
The following breast enlargement pumps can be purchased online. Although independent studies have yet to demonstrate their safety and effectiveness, reviews indicate that they often fall short of their users’ expectations.
BRAVA is an electric breast pump, and is perhaps is the most well-known. The BRAVA system was introduced in the late 1990s and showed promising results following a clinical trial that was conducted to evaluate it.
Two major drawbacks this system suffers from are price and availability. BRAVA is often hard to find, and when available, these devices retail for up to $2,000. A used BRAVA system in a good condition can cost between $1,000 and $1,500 on eBay.
Costing just $50-$70, Noogleberry is a relatively inexpensive option. It comes with a manual hand pump rather than the more sophisticated motorized pumps.
The company claims that this device can produce results when used for only 30-60 minutes a day over a period of six to nine months, but no studies of clinical trials have been conducted to evaluate it.
This is a lesser-known automated breast pump, with a wide range of power levels, from gentle suction to vigorous.
The manufacturer claims that using this device for 30 minutes a day for eight weeks can produce results, but we remain skeptical. Bosom Beauty costs $100-$200, making it much cheaper than BRAVA.
The bottom line
Breast enlargement pumps work on the principle of stretch-induced tissue expansion, which is a valid concept in biology. However, you should manage your expectations, consider the required commitment, and educate yourself on the drawbacks before trying one of these devices.
A large size gain is simply not possible with these devices, and some of the achievable gains may not be permanent. If you are interested in a small size increase and are averse to surgery, it might be worth discussing your options with a plastic surgeon.
» For more information on breast enhancement procedures, use Zwivel’s online directory to locate board-certified plastic surgeons in your area.
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