Brakong is a lightweight external breast prosthesis for breast cancer survivors made from bakong
Brakong Product Video
Brakong Product Video
Brakong's product lifecycle
Material development of bakong to a 3D printable filament
Behind-the-scenes of Brakong's design process
Meet the team
What it does
Brakong empowers breast cancer survivors experiencing an altered sense of self-esteem and body image after surgery. Brakong equips our wearers with a choice of how they want to look and feel, expressing externally the warriors they are within.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer globally. The Philippines has the highest incidence of this cancer in Asia. Survivors usually require the removal of breast tissue in a process called Mastectomy. Post-surgery, survivors may develop an altered sense of self-esteem that may lead to introversion, insecurity, and inhibition. This process can adversely affect feelings of femininity and self-confidence. The people we talked to stated they felt diminished as a woman, half, and abnormal. Addressing this problem with circularity in mind, the team was inspired to create Brakong out of bakong, a plant with antimicrobial effects.
How it works
Brakong is a breast form for breast cancer survivors who have undergone mastectomy. It is made out of bakong, a native plant in the Philippines with antimicrobial properties. This property of bakong benefits the wearer by making sure that the prosthesis stays clean and fresh in the damp and sweaty chest area of the body. The nature-inspired design that maximizes airflow and minimizes weight harmoniously provides peak comfort for the wearer. Its generative design minimizes the amount of material needed to create a stable breast form, resulting in a lower overall cost and minimal environmental impact. Being bio-based, Brakong is regenerative by design. It is a product that can infinitely be cycled back to the economy and does not result in waste. Finally, with the use of 3D scanning technology, Brakong matches the chest curves and features of its wearer. It will always be the perfect match, thus ensuring that its wearer unfailingly feels like the warrior within.
Breast cancer is prevalent in the Philippines. In fact, some members of the team have relatives needing breast prostheses after undergoing mastectomy. Through the Design Center of the Philippines’ Circular Design Challenge (DCP-CDC) in 2021, the team was jolted to design and develop Brakong. With the assistance of mentors and consultants, we were able to understand the nuances of conventional breast prostheses and how they are used by survivors. The team made sure to immerse in the experience of and empathize with the survivors to gain relevant insights regarding breast forms, including what’s expected of them and what areas need more work. These became relevant points in the Brakong’s overall design. We were also able to get recommendations for a pocketed bra from a lingerie designer, as well as medical requirements from our mentors in the medical field. We had gone through a number of design iterations, exploring different generative patterns and experimenting with our material. A true product of collaboration between survivors, designers, artists, engineers, doctors, and scientists, the team presented its Brakong idea to the DCP. Ultimately, Brakong became one of the winners of the CDC and was showcased in the Sustainability Solution Exchange Exhibit and Conference this 2022.
How it is different
Any material will not last forever. After a few years of constant wear, a prosthesis breaks down or must be refitted to the growing patient. This exposes the huge sustainability issue at the core of the prosthesis market. No secondary market exists for prostheses because of their highly personalized nature. They gather dust in closets and basements, stick out of landfills, or get pushed by the cartload into incinerators. Brakong is unique since it is made from a 100% bio-based composite we call PLAkong. All the raw materials for this composite are recyclable. After a few years of use, it can be remelted and reformed to match the new curves of the growing patient. In the case that it’s not needed anymore, it can easily be decomposed through a normal composting process. Brakong is also incredibly lightweight compared to traditional silicone breast forms. Finally, Brakong takes advantage of the natural antimicrobial property of the bakong.
The team is currently performing further product development to make the Brakong even more commercially-viable. In collaboration with the ICanServe Foundation – a breast cancer support network – we are performing ergonomic and mass production studies to identify the best sizes for the default molds.
Brakong is one of the winners of the two-day Circular Design Challenge organized by the Design Center of the Philippines last 2021. Brakong was also featured and showcased in the Sustainability Solutions Exchange Exhibit last March 2022.