One of the most common questions from those considering breast augmentation is “How does one determine size for breast implants”? While a “full C” is a common request from patients, there is no objective cup size measurement. Bra sizes vary across manufacturers and there is no direct correlation between bra cup size and implant volume in cubic centimetres (cc’s).
What are different methods for selecting size for breast implants?
During consultation for breast augmentation, you will see many sample implants of different sizes. It is recommended to bring an unpadded bra to your consultation so that you may examine how these sizers appear in person. Trying on sizers is an important part of implant size selection. It is important to note that the sizers sit differently in consultation since they rest on top of your natural breast tissue. They do not conform exactly to your tissues as they do following implantation. Implants are selected based on specific base diameter, which is determined by chest wall measurements. An implant of a given volume may appear differently between individual patients given differences in body measurements. A 300cc implant, for example, may appear prominent on a patient with a narrow chest and may appear much smaller in someone with wider breast base diameter. Implants vary in terms of base diameter and projection, which determine how the volume appears following surgery. Implants placed in the submuscular plane (below the pectoralis muscle) often appear slightly smaller following surgery vs. subglandular placement (above the muscle). Sizer selection is a common tool which may help to communicate the desired size outcome following breast augmentation.
– Rice test
Since sizers sit on top of your natural breast tissue, another option is the “rice test”. During this test, loosely fill a nylon stocking with rice to the desired effect when placed in an unpadded bra. Do not tie the stocking tightly to allow the rice to better conform to your natural breast tissue and chest wall within your bra. If you bring the rice stocking to your pre-operative appointment, the rice may be measured and a corresponding implant size determined. This volume may be compared to the desired sizer volume, which helps to confirm implant size.
– Photographs of desired outcome
It is also helpful to bring photographs from magazines or swimsuit catalogs, for example, to demonstrate a similar breast size and shape that you are hoping to achieve through surgery. Some patients are interested in more fullness in the upper pole while others seek a more natural appearance. Bringing photograph examples may help guide selection of size for breast implants.
– Imaging software
Some practices incorporate 3D imaging to determine implant size for breast implants. It is important to realize that results are not guaranteed and may appear differently following surgery. These imaging programs also do not allow you to assess how a given size looks and feels in front of the mirror and when wearing different clothing.
Breast implant size selection is an inexact science. In addition to careful discussion of your goals and chest wall measurements, these tools may better allow us to help you achieve your aesthetic goals.
Please contact us if you are interested in discussing breast implant surgery in more detail.