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Selecting Breast Implant Size

Conveniently located to serve Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland

There are now more choices available to those who decide breast implants are right for them. In addition to saline implants, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now approved silicone gel breast implants for cosmetic purposes. At the Columbus Institute of Plastic Surgery, Dr. Bivik Shah will help you decide which type of implant is right for you.


At the Columbus Institute of Plastic Surgery we work diligently to ensure that we listen to your concerns and desires regarding your cosmetic procedure. This information is combined with our extensive experience in cosmetic surgery to help you determine the best approach to achieve the outstanding results in breast augmentation that you are looking for. At each step of the consultation process and right up to surgery, we will work with you to make sure all of your concerns and questions have been addressed. This approach has been very successful in consistently delivering a superlative experience and results that patients want.


As many women already know, figuring out what size breasts you have and the right size bra to wear is a very challenging endeavor. Usually most women figure it out by “trial and error” and end up wearing a particular brand and size that works well for them. We now that a bra that gives you the support, shape and comfort that you need is a God send!

To further complicate the issue, most bra manufacturers use a different way of measuring breast cup size. The number, or circumference of the chest, is pretty standard and is usually measured in centimeters just under the folds of the breast. Surgeons measure cup size by measuring the width of the breast at the level of the nipple with the patient laying flat. Seven inches is roughly an A cup, eight inches a B cup, 9 inches a C cup, 10 inches a D cup and so on. If you try this, you will quickly find out that the bra you are currently wearing may not match your breast size.

Obviously, all patients start from a different point. It is very hard for patients to know what effect a particular size implant will have on the shape and size of their breasts. Chest size also has a significant impact on breast size. If you are tall and have a wide chest, the same size implant will look much smaller than if you placed it in someone who is short and has a narrow chest…it is a matter of proportions.

All of these factors make implant size selection one of the most important conversations that you should have with your surgeon. Getting this part right reduces your chances of having to go back to surgery because you want to be smaller or bigger! Getting it right also means that you will be able to enjoy your results much sooner!


Many women with small breasts have tried stuffing their bras with tissue or silicone cutlets to improve their breast size and shape. A whole padded bra industry exists just to address this problem. This approach or the “Bra Test” is one of the easiest ways to begin to get an idea of what size would work for you. In the office we have special sizer implants and real breast implants that you can try on side by side in your bra to see what looks good in and out of clothing. If you do an on-line search, you can also find videos on YouTube about how to do the “Rice Test” at home. The number that you come up with is a good approximation of where to start.

The next most common way that women use to help guide surgeons on what size breasts and implants they want is to use photos. Look on-line and find a picture of a woman who is roughly your size and weight, frame size and breast size. Find before and after breast augmentation results that look good and bad to you in terms of size, shape and position of the implants. This gives us a good idea of what in your “minds eye” would give you an outstanding result. This is definitely a situation where a picture is worth a thousand words! This also helps us understand what size implant would get you to where you want to be visually.

Breast measurements are one of the key steps of your consultation. Not only does this tell us what your true breast cup size is in comparison to what bra you are wearing, but it helps both of us to understand where you want to go. While no surgeon can garauntee a final cup size, we can get pretty close with good communication. The breast measurements also help us to determine what size implant would fit your chest and breast tissue well.

Finally, 3D computer image simulation is a great tool to use in some patients to help them understand what they would look like with a particular sized implant. The technology takes a scan of your chest with and without a bra. This information is then used by the computer software to simulate what tissue changes would show with a particular sized implant. It is accurate, but not 100%. Patients who have a lot of loose tissue or drooping of the breasts are not good candidates for computer image simulations.


The final implant size selection is definitely your choice. We work with you to take all of the factors discussed into consideration and make a recommendation for what size implant will work well for you. Breast augmentation is a very personal decision, so while we make suggestions and give advice, it is still ultimately your choice to make.


Within reason and certain physical parameters, it is definately your choice to get whatever size implants you want. In some cases, it may not be possible to use a size implant that you select. A very tight skin envelope and small chest will not be able to accomodate some of the larger implants. The skin, muscle and breast tissues may be too tight to accomodate the implant size you want if you want to go really big. In these sisuations, it is possible to replace your implants with larger ones in the future once your tissues have relaxed a bit. It may mean a second operation, but you will get the size that you desired.

For more information and pricing for Breast Augmentation, contact us at