Breast Implant Sizing

Home » Doctor Article » Breast Implant Sizing

The sizing of breast implants for a patient considering breast augmentation is a crucial step in achieving a successful outcome after surgery. Unfortunately bra sizes vary considerably from one style to the next, even in the same department store. Dr. Colgrove and his staff have visited several department stores and discovered that a patient has to try on various bras to determine what is best for them. There is no such thing as a full C cup bra or a D minus bra.

So what is a patient and the doctor to do with this somewhat vague situation. The staff at Vinings Surgery Center and Dr. Robert A. Colgrove, Jr. recommend the following:

1. Purchase a bra that you want to fill upon completion of the surgery. Take the bra to the doctor’s office prior to surgery and try different size implants with different types of clothing such as swimsuit, T-shirt, dress, etc. Or use the Rice test as discussed below. By physically trying on the implants you will get a good idea of what to expect. Just add 10% or so to the final volume to account for the flattening that occurs under the muscle.

2. Pick out photographs from the Internet or magazines to demonstrate the size you prefer. It will be helpful to pick out one too large, one too small, and one as close as possible to the ideal size. Please use pictures that reflect your body type. If you are a thin woman, then realize that your breasts will take on more of the shape of the implant. If you already have considerable breast tissue, then minimal contour or edges of the implant will be seen and less implant palpated. Basically, the implant pushes out what you have naturally to start with. You will not look like your friend or neighbor.

3. Use the Rice test at home to experiment with sizing. Fill a Zip Loc bag with rice and place beneath your bra to see how it looks. Again try with different clothing. This also allows you to understand how that extra weight feels on you chest and shoulders. One ounce of rice equals 30cc or 250cc equals one cup.

4. When doing sizing think about proportion to your hips and shoulders and other parts of your body. Remember if you have really large breasts and a small waist this will make shopping for clothes more challenging! On the other hand, by increasing the size of your bust, your hips and shoulders will look smaller.

5. Have measurements made prior to surgery to determine what size you are currently. Our office staff can do this or the department store assistants will be happy to help you. If you have a large amount of fatty tissue under the armpits or on the back, this will throw the measurements off. If that is the case you may have to try on different bras and see what fits. Liposuction beneath the armpits can be done with the breast augmentation surgery.

6. At the preoperative visit the nurses will explain different profiles of implants that are offered. A high profile implant will have a narrower diameter and project more. This is desirable on a patient with a narrow chest requesting a large implant. Remember it is important to stick to the guidelines from the implant company to get the best results!

7. Remember to add more to one side since most women have asymmetric breasts. Saline breast implants allow minor adjustments but silicone cannot be adjusted-it is prefilled at the factory.

8. A patient with breast implants will not fit into a bra the same as a patient without implants. So be prepared for some slight difference in fit-the bra straps will have to be adjusted and the band to get the most comfortable fit.

9. After the swelling goes down and you heal in a few months, YOU WILL BE SMALLER! That is, unless you gain weight. For this reason, we recommend you go up at least 10% more than you think you need. Breasts also get smaller as you age.

10. Cleavage will vary depending on the tightness of the skin on the breastbone (sternum), curvature of the ribs, and how active you are after surgery. For example, if you are doing activities that require significant arm motion to the sides, this will probably shift the implants more to the side. Keeping pads or tape along the sides of the breasts or keeping the arms down as much as possible seems to help maintain better cleavage, which should be one to two fingerwidths in the center of the chest.

The important thing to remember is you will be BIGGER! The cup size will vary and the breasts will look different depending on the type of clothing you wear. It is the most popular plastic surgery procedure and the vast majority of the patients are delighted with their final results! With careful planning and spending ample TIME on sizing you will achieve the look you wanted. So go for it and enjoy!

Feel free to e-mail us your experience and give us suggestions on how the process could be better.

Thank you,
The staff at Vinings Surgery Center and Dr. Robert A. Colgrove, Jr., M.D.