Determining Breast Implant Size

Next to choosing a doctor, choosing the size of your breast implants is the most important decision you will make when planning your augmentation. But it can also be the most fun! Approach the decision knowing that it is both an art and a science—you need a balance of both to get the best result.

Three measurements determine the size and shape of a breast implant: the width of the implant, the profile or projection of the implant, and the volume in cubic centimeters (cc’s). Here’s some brief information on each measurement to help determine what will look best on your body.

Determining Width: How to Measure Your Breast Size

The best implants for your frame will be slightly narrower than your natural breast size. Anything much larger or smaller will not be proportionate. Find the diameter by measuring in a straight line from the outer part of your breast next to your arm, to the beginning of your cleavage. Most women measure between 11 and 14 cm in this area.

Once you have your beast width measurement, you can determine the size implant you need. For example, if your measurement is 11 cm, the best-looking implant for you will be anywhere from 10 to 11 cm in diameter.

Projection: Low Profile vs High Profile Breast Implants

Standing in front of a mirror sideways will help you visualize your ideal breast shape. Implants range from low profile and moderate profile to high profile. As you can imagine, the low profile implant is flatter than the moderate and high profile sizes. With a low profile implant, your breasts will appear softer than with a high profile implant, which makes them round and pointy. The high profile implant has the most projection. The more projection, the more cc’s.

Determining Volume: How to Perform the Rice Test

Your plastic surgeon may let you try on implants during your consult. If your surgeon doesn’t do this (and not all surgeons do), you can try on different sizes at home using the rice test.

Cut off the legs from a pair of panty hose and fill them with the desired amount of cc’s in the form of rice. (You can also use oatmeal, potato flakes, grits, etc.) Once they’re filled, try them on under a sports bra. The conversions below, which are approximate, can be used in different combinations to achieve the cc amount you want.

  • 1 cup = 236cc
  • 1/2 cup = 118cc
  • 3/4 cup = 177cc
  • 1/4 cup = 59cc
  • 1/3 cup = 78cc
  • 2/3 cup = 156cc
  • 1/8 cup = 30cc

Other Considerations for Your Breast Implant Size

Remember, you should not solely rely on cc amounts. For instance, 400cc's on one person will look different on another. This is due to several things, including, but not limited to, the amount of breast tissue, the shape of the chest wall, deformities of the chest wall (such as pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum), and body weight. Basically, your existing breast tissue and anatomy dictate how many cc's you will need. Use the rice test to give you an idea of how many cc's you may need to get the size you want. Again, this is just a rough estimate, as the rice test is not an exact science.

Also remember that many surgeons do not talk in cup sizes, so take to your consult photographs of what you consider too small, too large, and "just right." This helps the surgeon immensely by taking away a lot of the guesswork regarding size. It's much easier for the surgeon to look at a photo and get an idea of what you want, versus trying to visualize what you’re talking about. Photographs leave less room for error regarding size, but keep in mind that you will not look like the photos you bring into your consult, no matter how much you may resemble the subjects in the "before" photos.

In addition to using the rice test, talk to a doctor in your area and see if they offer 3-D breast augmentation imaging models, which will give you an idea of what you will look like with different cc amounts.

Updated July 2016

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