Updated October 2018
Size. It's why we get breast augmentations. We want to make up for breasts we've never had or regain the size, shape, and volume we had before children and breastfeeding. When we decide to get a breast enhancement, breast implant sizes and shape then become important in how we look at ourselves and how we think others see us.
A well-trained, experienced plastic surgeon will guide you in the right direction, keeping both your goals and body limitations in mind.
Here's how to choose the right breast implant sizes and the factors you should consider before you make a selection.
How to choose breast implant size
Choosing breast implant sizes comes with a lot of consideration. You are trying to decide what size you want to be. Following these tips will get you closer to finding the right breast implant that matches your body and your vision.
Find goal photos to take to your breast augmentation consultation
When consulting with a plastic surgeon, it is wise to have an idea of what you want your breast augmentation to look like. You have a clear vision in your mind, but now you need something tangible so you can relay your goals to your breast implant surgeon.
Sifting through patient photos on various sites will help you narrow down the breast implants sizes and shape you want. But keep in mind that everyone's anatomy is different, so you will not look exactly like the photos you show your surgeon.
A 45-year-old who is overweight, for example, and has had four kids should not gather photos of women who are in their 20s and have breasts that have not been affected by age, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and gravity. Instead, you must be realistic about what to expect.
Forget cup size and think of breast implants in cc's
You may be thinking that all you need is to tell your surgeon which cup size you want to be. The thing you have to keep in mind is that your idea of a particular cup size may be different. Additionally, going into a breast augmentation consult saying you that you want a certain amount of cc's volume because that's what your friend has, may not look the same on you once your breast implants are implanted.
Most patients are looking for a large C or small D cup. Because different manufacturers size their breasts differently, a C cup in one brand may be a D or DD cup in another. Many plastic surgeons have implant samples for you to try on inside a brassiere to give you an idea of how things would look. There are also imaging machines that simulate how you would look. You can try the Rice Test, which is a "do-it-yourself" sizing method. It's not 100% accurate but it's pretty close.
In addition, implants that are placed under the muscle tend to sit a little higher and a little more compressed than implants that are placed on top of the muscle but under the breast tissue.
Think about natural vs fake
A naturally-shaped breast has more fullness in the lower half than the upper half. A fake-looking breast is more round and looks like it's popping out of the chest. Most women are looking for something in between. They want fullness in the upper breast, similar to when a woman wears a pushup bra.
Consider your current lifestyle and style of dress
If you very active and involved in a heavy work activity or leisure activities including sports, you may want to consider this when choosing a size. Larger implants may get in the way of your activities. This is not a problem for everyone but it should be taken into consideration.
Many patients tell me that they don't want people to notice them in certain clothing. We talk about "dressing the breasts down for church, and dressing them up for the beach". The style of clothing you wear will also make a difference. Loose-fitting shirts and tops tend to hide larger breast size.
Studies show that the vast majority of women wear the wrong bra size You may think that bra shopping will be easier after breast augmentation that this is not always the case. Bra sizes run differently according to style and manufacturer. Implants tend to be wider than a natural breast. When your plastic surgeon is measuring you preoperatively, the chest diameter will figure into what is the proper breast implant base.
Weigh the risks of selecting large breast implant sizes
The larger the implant, the heavier it is. A 450 mL implant weighs about 1 pound. Imagine that pulling on the breast tissue. If you put a very large implant in a small chest, there is an increased risk of capsular contracture, which is thick scar tissue that develops around an implant and can make it look like a headlight.
In addition, the weight of the implant can stretch the skin on the lower half of the breast, causing it to bottom out. The use of allograft tissue to form a scaffold and support the breast can lessen the chance of this happening.
Determine bra size and cup size before breast augmentation
Though breast implants don't come in cup sizes—they come in cc's—understanding your current bra size can be useful when trying on breast implant sizers during your breast augmentation consultation. You'll know where you've come from and have a better idea of where you want to go.
We have our own chart here at justbreastimplants.com, which works for most but not all people.
To use the bra size chart below, you will:
- Measure each breast using a soft tape measure
- Start where the breast starts at (near the side/armpit)
- Measure all the way across the fullest part of your breast (the fullest part of the breast is usually the nipple, but not always)
You will also want to measure the circumference of your ribcage. Do this by measuring just below the breast, in the area of the crease. Measure all the way around. This is your ribcage measurement.
- If your ribcage measurement is an odd #, add 5" to get your band width. Example: 29" ribcage + 5" = 34" band.
- If your ribcage measurement is an even #, add 4" to get your band width. Example: 28" ribcage + 4" = 32" band.