Making a Decision on Breast Implants

You’re considering breast augmentation. You’ve got a ton of questions and with reason! After all, thanks to technology, there are so many options available that will help you get the look you want. Medical studies highlight this, explaining that thankfully, the approach to breast augmentation has changed from a focus on purely increasing volume, to considering other factors – like how well breast tissues handle different sizes, for example. This approach results in more natural and better looking breasts over the long term.

“There are literally thousands of breast implant combinations available, based on size, profile, filling and shape. So, it can be quite difficult to figure out which one is right for you. You’ll need to look at several things, including your lifestyle, goals and specific body measurements. Your surgeon will also help you with the selection process,” Dr. Mahmood Kara, a board certified plastic surgeon based in Toronto, Canada, explains.

One of the main questions you might have is how to choose the right size. This is a big worry for many women, and the main factor in getting the results you want. If you’re like most, you have an image in your head of how you want your breasts to look. The problem then becomes, “How do I get the look I want?” We want to help you cut through the overwhelm and find the size that’s perfect for you.

To begin with, there are two things you need to be very clear on with breast augmentation. They are:

What is the exact look I want?

You’ll want to ensure that you’re communicating the exact picture you have in your head. Use visuals, bring in pictures, and consider the factors we’ll discuss below.

How will this size and shape fit in with my lifestyle and health, both now and in the future?

Remember that this is a life-long decision. You’ll want to be sure that your implants don’t cause you back pain (or other problems) down the road, and that they don’t interfere with your favourite activities.

Implants Involve More Than Cup Sizes

Let’s get to the nitty-gritty, shall we? Many women think in terms of cup sizes, which makes sense. That’s how we buy bras. And yet, cup sizes aren’t standardized amongst manufacturers, which means this method of measurement can be very misleading.

There’s so much more to consider when determining your implant size. According to a Plastic Reconstructive Aesthetic Surgery study that asked plastic surgeons how they determine the proper implant size, the most common measurements were breast base (68%), breast tissue compliance, or how well your breast tissue will stretch to cover the implants (19%), breast height (15%), and chest diameter (9%). Let’s discuss these factors

Breast width

The size of your breasts now will greatly determine how large you can go, as you only have so much breast tissue to work with. It will also determine the diameter of the implant itself. This is measured in a flat plane (no curving round the breast) from the point of cleavage to the outer part of the breast, next to your arm.

The size of the rest of my body

You’ll want to consider proportion, not only for aesthetic reasons, but also to be aware of how much weight your back and shoulders will be able to handle.

Breast tissue thickness (along with breast tissue compliance)

Many people do not think about this when considering breast augmentation, but it’s very important. If you have thin breast tissue, you’ll need to go with a slightly smaller diameter than that width of your breast. Otherwise, a wide implant in thin breast tissue could cause the tissue to stretch, leading to less padding over the implant and visible ripples


Here you can consider cup size in terms of how it affects your profile. You’ll want to decide how much volume, or outward projection, you want your breasts to have. The narrower the base of the implant, the higher the profile and more projection you’ll end up having.

Preferred Style

At the end of the day, you’re the one making the choice and you’ll need to know exactly what kind of breast shape you want. Ask yourself, “Do I want my breasts to look natural; a little augmented; or obviously augmented?”

Envisioning Your New Breasts

Trying on breast sizes

As funny as that may sound, you’ll definitely want to “try-on” a few sizes. In your consultation, you’ll be given the opportunity to wear different sizers, measured in cubic centimetres (or cc’s), in order to help you visualize what you’ll look like in various types of clothes with your new breasts. Here are a few tips:

Don’t be shy, try on bigger and smaller sizes. It helps to know what you don’t want to look like, just as much as it helps to know how you do want to look.

Among the outfits you bring, be sure to bring a light-colored, low-cut t-shirt to wear. You’ll see what your cleavage might look like and be able to clearly see the overall shape.

Bring a trusted friend or a spouse for an extra opinion both on how you look and on what you learn about the whole procedure during your consultation

Other options

Computer-Imaging Programs can be helpful and give you an objective view of yourself. Of course, they can’t give you the feelings you’d experience with a new breast size under your clothes and are just a rough representation of how you’ll look.

The rice test gives you an easy way to understand the implant sizes, as well as the overall volume, shape, proportion and feel. Essentially, you make your own “sizers” using uncooked rice poured into baggies or cut pantyhose to simulate the different cc’s, and when you put them in your sports bra, you can give yourself a general idea of how breast implants will make you look.

Finally, intra-operative sizing is another option, where if you’re debating between two implant sizes, your surgeon may be able to insert a temporary implant sizer in those sizes and, based on what you’ve shared with him/her, will make the decision that fits most closely with your desired look and continue with the surgery.

It’s up to you

Now that you’re aware of all the factors to determine the right implant size for you, you can see that breast augmentation is a very personal process. You really can’t pick a size based on what your friend has, or solely on what size bra you want to wear. While your doctor is dedicated to giving you what’s best for you, the choice is ultimately yours.

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