By Clair Weaver
24 February 2008
The latest cosmetic craze does not require surgery and can be completed in less than half an hour with no recovery period.
It involves a surgeon injecting a gel-like filler called Macrolane to enlarge or firm up breasts under the guidance of fully-conscious patients.
But the effects are not permanent, lasting between 18 months to two years before a top-up is required.
Neither is it cheap, at around $5000 to $7000. Yet fans say it is a relatively painless and less extreme alternative to breast implants, allowing them to subtly target specific areas without necessarily increasing cup size nor telling their friends.
The Singapore-based pioneer of the Macrolane "Firma"' breast shaping technique, Dr Woffles Wu, is travelling to Australia next month to teach plastic surgeons how to administer the procedure.
It is expected to be available in Australia by early next year, although Dr Wu already performs "in-transit breast augmentations'' for eager Australian patients on stopovers in Singapore.
"This really is the first lunch-hour breast augmentation,'' he told The Sunday Telegraph. "
It literally allows patients to come in, walk out, wear a bra and go back to work without feeling any untoward symptoms.
"I do it with the patient sitting up holding a mirror and I get her to control where she gets the (Macrolane) injected.'' Surgeons use a local anaesthetic for the procedure, which is also approved in Europe and the US.
Macrolane is made up of hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring "gooey'' molecule similar to the cosmetic filler Restylane.
Unlike silicone, which is commonly used in breast implants, it can be broken down by the body.
Patients can avoid scarring and target problem areas such as flat nipples by opting for re-shaping instead of implants, according to Dr Wu.
"It used to be all about size, so when I first started this I thought I was going to have women coming in saying: make them bigger," he said.
"But we get patients coming in who have got really small boobs who will say: I just would like a little but I still want to be a B-cup. "I will say: `Don't you want to be bigger?' But they say: `No, I just want to be fuller like I was before pregnancy,' or `I play sport and I don't want them getting in my way'."
British dental hygienist Lucy Mitchell decided to have Macrolane breast re-shaping to fill out her post-pregnancy breasts after years of using Wonderbras and "chicken fillet'' padding.
After increasing from a 34A to a 34B cup size last month, she is reportedly delighted with her "beautifully rounded and full" breasts. However, the cost of regular top-ups means she is now considering breast implants as a long-term solution.
Double Bay cosmetic surgeon Dr Anoop Rastogi will start performing Macrolane breast re-shaping in a pilot program in three weeks. He is excited about being able to shape rather than simply increase the size of breasts and already has "a whole heap of patients lining up''.
"There are a whole group of patients not necessarily ready to have a breast augmentation but who would like bigger breasts,'' he said. "Another substantial group of patients that you can't currently treat well with implants are women whose breasts sag a bit."
He said the procedure was proving popular for "very thin women'' and those who wanted a more natural option to implants.