Oct. 26, 2009 -- Add breast lifts to the growing list of potential uses for Botox. But not all experts think it's worth the trouble.
We already know that this wrinkle eraser can help treat excessive sweating, banish frown lines, and put the brakes on certain eye muscle problems and neck spasms. But it may also give breasts a temporary, mild lift, according to experts at the annual meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) in Seattle.
A Botox breast lift involves injecting Botox into the pectoralis minor chest muscle, which allows the back muscles to compensate by lifting the breast, explains Karol Gutowski, MD, the head of the division of plastic surgery at North Shore University Health System in Evanston, Ill. The lifting effect lasts only as long as the Botox -- which is roughly three to four months, he says. Botox is not approved for this purpose.
"The Botox breast lift is ideal for a woman aged 30 to 50 with an A or B cup breast size who is looking for a temporary, modest or mild improvement in saggy breasts," he says. "This gives them a little bit of a lift and costs about one to two thousand dollars for both breasts."
On the plus side, there are no scars or surgery with Botox breast lifts; on the minus side, they may not work all that well, he says.
"You can probably get the same effect by altering your posture," he tells WebMD. "The muscle in question, the pectoralis minor, is covered by the pectoralis major and it would be very difficult to target the smaller muscle that is covered by larger muscle," he says. What's more, "other muscles of the shoulder, back, and chest play a role, so it is very hard to believe that just weakening the pectoralis minor would give any type of effect."
"I would give this two thumbs down," Gutowski says.
"Botox is a temporary correction and Botox breast lifts will cost a lot of money because you are now using it for big muscles, not itty-bitty facial muscles," says Walter L. Erhardt Jr., MD, a plastic surgeon in private practice in Albany, Ga., and a past president of the ASPS. "I would go to the gym or take posture lessons before turning to Botox for a breast lift," he says. "The results will be longer lasting and it will be a lot safer."
There have been some reports of people developing various, sometimes life-threatening conditions, including respiratory failure, after receiving Botox injections.
"I think it is safe," Gutowski says. "It is done with very low doses and very unlikely to have any problems."
Another minimally invasive breast enhancement procedure discussed at the ASPS meeting is cleavage rejuvenation. This involves injecting a filler such as Sculptra into the cleavage to get rid of fine wrinkles. Sculptra is not approved for this purpose. It is indicated for use in the restoration of facial fat loss in people with HIV.
"The initial results look exciting," says Gutowski.
Richard J. Greco, MD, a plastic surgeon in Savannah, Ga., says that soft tissue fillers such as Sculptra can be used to fill just about anything, including cleavage. "It comes down to cost and how long it lasts," he says, noting that the cost of using soft tissue fillers for larger areas on the body may prove prohibitive.