The Art (and Science) of Choosing Implant Size

Choosing breast implants can be an exciting process for women who come to my Sacramento practice for breast augmentation. That excitement, however, sometimes gets mingled with second-guessing once it’s time to make the choice.

One of my jobs as a plastic surgeon is to answer patients’ questions about their breast augmentation options, including those regarding the best way to select implants based on their cosmetic goals. I may also recommend a range of size options after performing a physical exam during the consultation and explaining how the size of a woman’s torso influences her ultimate augmentation results.

Patients typically come in with an idea of the implant size they want, and there are certain things that work — and some that don’t work — when narrowing down your choices. Here’s a look at some of those tools:

What works: Photos of real patients.

A plastic surgeon’s photo gallery provides examples of the kinds of results he or she achieves, demonstrating the surgeon’s expertise. When looking at the before-and-after photos, patients should search for women with bodies similar to their own to see how a certain size implant may look on them. 

Here are before-and-after photos of one of my actual patients. You can see more examples in my photo gallery.

Breast augmentation before-and-after photos


What doesn’t work: Photos of celebrities.

I encourage patients to bring in “wish photos” showing breasts that reflect their own goals. The best photos come from a surgeon’s before-and-after gallery. Less helpful are photos of celebrities who may have attractive breasts, but whose bodies may not match the patient’s body type. It’s important that photos resemble the patients’ bodies — breast implants on a narrow chest or a shorter frame, for example, won’t look the same for a woman with a long or broad torso.

What works: The rice test.

Yes, in a world filled with gadgets, the rice test remains a reliable way to simulate how different sizes of implants would look for you. Making “rice implants” at home is simple and just requires pantyhose and rice. You can get complete instructions at The Rice Test.

What doesn’t work: Comparing implant size to bra cup size.

Most women know that bra sizes vary greatly from one manufacturer to the next. In other words, not all B-cup bras are created equally. So, describing your goals in terms of bra cup size doesn’t really communicate much more than that you want bigger breasts. Implants are measured in cubic centimeters (cc) and they can range from 100 cc to 1,000 cc. Looking at different implants can give you a better idea of the size you’ll want.

The best advice is to trust your instincts when it comes to choosing the size of your breast implants. Patients often change their minds at the last minute because they think the implants they’ve chosen are too big, but most women who undergo revision surgery to change the size of their implants wish they had gone bigger to begin with.

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