Followers of the popular television series know that the Bionic Woman had an eye, an ear and two damaged limbs replaced with realistic-looking prosthetics built on a titanium frame, but probably never considered the notion that such technology would one day really be used. While we are not yet at the point of recreating entire limbs, let alone enhanced version of them, since March, 2003, roughly thirty-six women have been fitted with a new kind of bra. Like the best bras, this one offers excellent, long-lasting breast support. Unlike conventional foundation garments, however, the titanium bra is worn internally. While it doesn't have any special functions beyond improving the shape and support of the breast, it is, in a sense, the bionic bra.
Formed from titanium-mesh cups, this internal bra is an alternative to more usual implants, such as those made of silicone, and they were inspired by another use of titanium mesh - abdominal hernia repair - because they don't cause foreign body reactions, and therefore are not rejected by the immune system.
The surgery to implant the titanium mesh "bra" is done with the patient under either general or twilight anesthesia with the patient in a seated position, with her breasts hanging loose over her chest. The surgeon will make a semi-circular incision around each nipple then forms a space for each mesh cup between the breast's glandular tissue and subcutaneous fat. The fat layer must be protected because it prevents the mesh bra from showing through the skin. The titanium is then rolled into a tiny cylinder, inserted, and gently shaped to the proper form. Using stitches, the surgeon will attach it to the breastbone and pectoral muscles. By the time the sutures dissolve after ten to twelve weeks, the "bra" will be fused into the surrounding tissue. After the surgery, scarring is minimal.
The average candidate for this procedure is a woman in her thirties to late forties, whose breasts have begun to sag after weight loss or childbirth, but whose skin still retains most of its elasticity. While the surgery does require an overnight hospital stay, patients can usually return to work within a week and the only pain is some tenderness, roughly on the scale of a sports-related injury.
While a possible additional benefit (other than the ability to go bra-less) to using the titanium cup bra is a reduced likelihood of getting breast cancer (based on a study which shows that external bras restrict the lymphatic system, which removes toxins from the body), it is important to understand that the this is a permanent procedure. Titanium is not biodegradable, and if something goes wrong, the surgery to correct it will be invasive.
As well, the bionic bra can make it more difficult for women to detect tumors when doing home breast exams, so mammograms are a must.
The titanium bra can be done in tandem with a standard breast-enlargement procedure if so desired.