Question: I got an email about a cream that will make my breasts grow. Then I saw an ad for a different cream in a magazine. My mother says that those products don’t really work. Is that true? Why are they allowed to sell them if they don’t work?
Answer: It is sometimes hard for teenage girls to wait for nature to take its course. The pressure on teenagers to grow up quickly is nothing new. But the push for the perfect figure has intensified with an increase in teen magazines and videos promoting women with perfect bodies, which may be the result of plastic surgery, eating disorders, or computer enhancement, like airbrushing.
Unfortunately, there are people out there who want to take advantage of your doubts in order to make a lot of money. Many teenage girls will try almost anything to look like their favorite, surgically-enhanced role model; so they are vulnerable to these companies. Products claiming to enlarge the breasts are a popular scam that has been around for a long time.
After being in the back of fashion magazines for years, the Internet has provided a new method for swindlers to reach Web-savvy teen consumers. A quick Internet search on “breast enlargement” comes up with thousands of products, including creams, pills, lotions, exercise devices, and hypnosis tapes. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Better Business Bureau confirm that no breast enhancement product has ever been proven to actually work. Even though they may seem to be genuine with quotes from “real people” saying the product worked, as well as a money back guarantee, you will get nothing more than flat results.
Here’s what the FDA scientists tell us: “For decades, millions of dollars have been spent on devices, creams, and lotions advertised as breast developers, all wasted. There is no device or system of exercise that will increase the size of the breasts. At best, devices promoted as breast developers merely strengthen and develop the muscles that support the breasts, and exercising these muscles will not really increase breast size.”
This scam is not new. Your mom probably fell for similar products in the 1970’s, along with millions of other women, like the foot-operated breast enlarger pump or the Iso-tensor, a plastic tube containing a spring. In other words, there is a long history of scams targeting young women’s insecurity about their bodies. Trust your mom’s judgment and experience instead of the dishonest claims by the con artists selling these phony products.
These companies are allowed to sell products that do not work because the government does not regulate the sale of “beauty products” very carefully. Except for drugs prescribed by doctors, most consumer products do not require government approval or testing. The FDA regulates labeling of ingredients, the use of color additives, and they have banned the use of eight chemicals; otherwise, companies are basically free to do as they wish. Reputable businesses usually regulate themselves and avoid making outrageous claims so not to offend possible repeat customers. The companies that sell breast developers seem willing to make claims that they know are not true. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will file complaints against companies that make false claims for “natural supplements” and “breast enhancing” pills and creams. In fact, thanks to the FTC, the company that makes Bloussant had to return millions of dollars to customers who bought their products based on false advertising. FTC explained that the company “falsely claimed that Bloussant is clinically proven to increase bust size in the majority of women, and is clinically proven to be safe.” Bloussant cost $220 for a two-month supply but there is no evidence that it works. The company can continue to sell their products, but they can no longer make false claims.
So, the next time you see an advertisement for increasing your bust online or in a magazine, remember that if it sounds too good to be true-it probably is.
Here are some tips from the FDA and the Better Business Bureau for spotting scams:
- Be wary if immediate, effortless or guaranteed results are promised.
- Look for telltale words and phrases such as “breakthrough,” “miracle,” “secret remedy,” “exclusive,” and “clinical studies prove that…”
- Beware of promotions for a single product claimed to be effective for a wide variety of ailments.
- Don’t forget that, unlike scientists and health professionals, con artists do not subject their products to the scrutiny of real scientific research. They simply sell products to get your money.
- Be cautious of money-back guarantees, for a guarantee is only as good as the company that backs it.
- Don’t buy it when testimonials or case histories from satisfied users are the only evidence a product works.
- Be a skeptic. Check out a product with your doctor, pharmacist or other health professional.
All articles are reviewed and approved by Dr. Diana Zuckerman and other senior staff.