As a Plastic Surgeon who specializes in cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries of the breast, I field many questions about cup size, implant safety, and pricing of procedures. But the most common question, by far, is the one that has earned the title header in this blog and pertains to how we know what size implants will be needed.
While no questions are easy to answer, this one is particularly difficult because we often find ourselves communicating according to cup sizes. Patients will often say that they would just like to go up one or two cup sizes, or maybe even pick a specific cup size. But cup sizes tend to vary widely between bra makers and many people have a different concept of what these sizes actually may represent.
So how can we translate what the patient desires to what we actually will do at the time of breast augmentation? Some have reported using high-tech imaging packages that can morph 3-D renderings of the patient’s surface anatomy to reflect what might happen with various implant sizes and shapes. While these expensive systems can provide attractive digital images, they cannot provide the patient the sensation and feel of a given breast size.
Fortunately, there are sizing systems that allow the patient the opportunity to actually experience different sizes. For example, the MENTOR Volume Sizing System is made up of an array of variably sized bra inserts that the patient can physically try on. These sizers are different from the actual implants and are specially designed to mimic the shape and appearance that the actual implants may produce after surgery. By using this system, the patient can try out different sizes and experience what it actually might feel and look like to be the size they were seeking. In addition, the surgeon can develop a better understanding of the patient’s desired size and make a better estimate of the implants that will be used at surgery.
While the volume of the implant is important, there are several other factors in implant selection that need to be carefully determined, such as:
• Implant shape (round versus anatomically shaped)
• Texture (smooth versus textured)
• Material (silicone versus saline)
• Profile (generally speaking, for a given implant volume, the wider it is at its base, the less it will project off the chest wall)
These, and many other patient-specific factors should be carefully assessed and considered when planning a breast augmentation surgery. Don’t let the implant size overshadow these other, very important variables.