Breast Implant Dimensions

Not all round breast implants are created equal. While shaped implants have set dimensions, round breast implants offer more variety for patients receiving an implant-based breast augmentation from Esprit® Cosmetic in Portland, OR.

Round breast implants are available in various shapes to accommodate different body types. Three measurements are necessary to understand the shape of a round implant. One is the diameter, which is the width of the implant. Second is the projection or “profile” of the implant. The profile of an implant measures the distance an implant projects outward from the chest wall. The third is the volume. Volume is the amount of space the implant occupies and is measured in cubic centimeters (c.c.’s).

For a given volume, low profile implants have the least amount of projection and high profile implants have the greatest amount of projection from the chest wall. Moderate profile implants project between high and low profile implants. The same concept applies to implant diameter. If the implant diameters are the same, then the low-profile implant will project the least and have the smallest volume and the high-profile implant will project the most and have the greatest volume. The moderate profile is in between with moderate projection and volume.

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Matrix comparison of breast implant profiles esprit® cosmetic surgeons

Breast Implant Dimensions:
Here is the Allergan Natrelle™ Matrix family of breast implants by Allergan. In this example, each implant has same diameter. The three key dimensions to a round breast implant are diameter, projection, and volume. The low profile implant is relatively flat, the high profile implant is the most projecting and the moderate profile implant is in between. Here, since the diameters of the breast implants are the same, as the projection increases the volume (c.c.’s) of the implant also increases.

Implant Width Should Fit Breast Width

Understanding the dimensional characteristics of breast implants is very important in determining which implant is best for you. Generally speaking, moderate profile implants usually fit best average size patients. Moderate profile implants tend to create nicely proportioned, natural appearing breasts. High profile implants are nice for women with narrow breasts- These high-profile implants result in rounder, pointier breasts. But, in women with the correct measurements, high profile implants are also very aesthetic. Low profile implants result in a less projecting and wider breast. These are nice for women with very wide breasts that desire volume at the edges of their breasts, especially in the cleavage and upper breast areas.

Projection Shapes The Profile Of The Breast

A good way to understand how a breast implant’s profile will shape your breasts is to think of how your chest would look when observed in a profile (or side) view. Stand in front of a mirror sideways and look at the profile of your chest to get an idea.

Some women believe that a high-profile breast implant will give them more fullness high on the chest, toward the collar bone, and that a low-profile implant will shape the central part of the breast. The opposite is true. Since a high-profile implant pushes out from the chest wall the most, the implant will push out the central and lower parts of the breast the most. Thus, high profile implants create a pointy, round breast. Low profile breast implants push the areolas out from the chest wall the least and will create a softer, flatter breast.

Breast implant sizing drawing esprit® cosmetic surgeons

Breast Implant Sizing:
This breast implant fits the width of this breast nicely. Here the implant width (denoted by the upper set of arrows) is slightly narrower than the breast width. Breast width is measured from the cleavage area to the side of the breast (denoted by the lower set of arrows). Breast implants with a diameter about the same as the width of the breast fit most patients best.

Implant Width Shapes The Breast Outline

The diameter of a round breast implant is the same measurement as the implant width and height. It is the diameter of the implant that creates the shape of the breast when viewed straight-on. If you want to have a lot of upper breast fullness then a wide, tall implant is needed. Or, if you want a very wide, bubbly, augmented breast appearance then a very wide implant is best. If the implant is fitted proportionally to your breast width and height, then you will have a natural shaped breast.

Breast Implant Names and Dimensions

A note on breast implant naming: There are several different names the breast implant companies assign to their implants in terms of implant profile. The simplest naming is that described above for Allergan Natrelle saline implants, where there are low, moderate and high profile implants. Unfortunately, the naming is a little confusing for Allergan Natrelle Inspira silicone gel implants. That is, the profiles in the silicone gel implants are named “low”, “low-plus”, “moderate”, “full”, and “extra-full”. So, in comparing implant profiles it is best to look at the entire “family” to understand an implant’s position relative to its dimensions. And, in comparing between implant “families” and different manufactures it is critical to not compare names, but to compare the actual dimensions of the breast implants.

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Breast implant sizing drawing esprit® cosmetic surgeons

Breast Implant Sizing:
Breast width is a key dimension for properly fitting breast implants to your body. The width is measured from the inner edge of the cleavage to the outer-most part of the breast. The tape measure is pulled tight and the distance is measured in a flat plane. The tape is not draped or wrapped around the breast to determine this dimension.

Shaped Implant dimensions

Shaped implants have an additional dimension. These gummy bear implants hold a specific shape, so they are designed with varying heights, widths, projections, and volumes. The same concepts above apply to fitting a shaped implant to your body. The difference is that the height of the implant can be specified and can be different from the implant width.

Breast Implant Sizing

Breast Implant Sizing Should Be Fun

One of the most stressful experiences women feel while preparing for breast augmentation is selecting the size of their breast implants. This feeling is understandable, as implant shape and size will determine the look you have for years to come. However, our team in Portland has great experience helping women through breast implant sizing. We can make choosing the right size clear, logical, and fun.

Cup Size

Like all plastic surgery, breast implant sizing is an art and a science. To understand sizing, many factors must be considered. First is the aesthetic you wish to achieve. Aesthetics are often communicated in bra cup sizes, but more exact descriptions of desired breast shape and areas of fullness are important to consider. Often, a representative photo of desirable augmented breasts is useful to convey the look you want to achieve. Remember, each bra company calculates bra sizes differently, so using cup size alone as a parameter can lead to miscommunication between us.

Breast implant sizing comparison drawing esprit® cosmetic surgeons

Improperly fitted breast implants can lead to poor breast aesthetics. On the left, the narrow implant does not create nice cleavage or upper breast fullness. This leads to a ”ball-in-a-sock” appearance. On the right, the implant is too wide and overwhelms the breast and normal breast aesthetics are lost. Also, wide breast implants can contribute to tissue thinning and implant visibility in the form of visible ripples.

Trying-On Breast Implants

Another useful approach is to “try-on” breast implants in a new bra you wish to wear and fill out with your breasts. Trying-on implants will give you and us a rough idea of the volume (measured in c.c.’s) range you need. You will have plenty of time to “try-on” implants during your consultation and pre-operative appointments at our office. Also, you can simulate implant try-on at home by filling your new bra with material and assessing your appearance wearing a variety of tops. But, please heed this caution: breast size may appear much differently after the implants have been placed surgically (compared to implant try-on), so you must not depend greatly on this approach for implant sizing.

Vectra 3-D Computer Simulations

We were one of the first centers in the world to have the Vectra 3-D computer breast augmentation simulator. This tool is invaluable in explaining breast augmentation options and implants to our patients.

Your Breast Size: In Breast Width

The next key steps in breast implant sizing are a bit more scientific. You need to know the dimensions of your breasts and chest. Think of these measurements as your real breast size. After all, when you try-on a new dress or pair of shoes you don’t select any size at random and see how it looks. Rather, you select your new dress to fit your body and shape, greatly dependent on your predetermined size. Your key dimension for determining your breast size is the width of your breast. The breast width is measured (in centimeters) from the cleavage area to the outer part of your breast, next to your arm. This is measured in a straight line and is not curved around the arc of your breast. Most women’s breasts are about 11-14 cm wide.

Fitting Breast Implant Diameter to Breast Width

Once you know the width of your breasts you can now consider the dimensions of breast implants that would be best for you- An implant slightly narrower or about the same width as the width of your breast is usually a good choice and should fit you well. So, if your breasts are 12 cm wide, you should choose a breast implant with a diameter of about 12 cm. If your implant choice is within 1/2 to one centimeter of your breast width, you should do well. But, it is best to select an implant that is slightly narrower, rather than wider than your breast. So, in the case of a 12-cm wide breast, an implant with a diameter from 11-12 cm should be satisfactory.

Breast Tissue Thickness Is Important

Another important consideration for breast augmentation is the thickness of the tissues of your breasts. A woman visiting our practice in Portland with thick breast tissues may be able to accommodate a wider implant than a woman with thin breast tissues. This difference relates to how the implant interacts with and stretches the breast tissues and skin, especially over time. In thin patients, wide implants are more likely to stretch and thin the tissues, leading to less padding over the implant and causing visible implant ripples.

Let’s go back to our example of a breast that is 12 cm wide. If the breast tissues are very thin, then a narrower implant should be selected. So, an implant with a diameter about 10.5-11.5 cm would be best.

Shaped, Gummy Bear Implant Sizing

Cohesive, gummy bear, implants come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The concepts for sizing shaped implants are the same as those for round implants. Breast width is still a critical measurement. But, the difference with shaped implant is that another key dimension is fitted- the height of the breast. Therefore, women with short breasts may find that a low height implant fits the best. Those that desire extra fullness at the top of the breast will choose a tall height implant. For many, a medium height implant will be the best choice.

During your consultation at our office in Portland, our surgeons will perform a thorough breast examination which will include measuring your breasts and soft tissue thickness. This information is then used to help determine which implant will fit you the best.

Breast implant choices esprit® cosmetic surgeons

Selecting A Breast Implant

With the key elements considered and evaluated you can then select a breast implant. To do this accurately, all dimensions of the implant must be considered. One is implant volume, which we have an idea of based on your desired cup size, your implant “try-on” size, and any photos of augmentations you like. The second is implant diameter, which should be slightly less than the measured width of your breast. The third implant dimension is outward projection, which generally follows the diameter of implant you need. The fourth, for shaped implants, is implant height.

Generally, selecting implant dimensions that are slightly less than the actual dimensions of your breast will result in natural appearing breasts. If the implant dimensions exceed the natural dimensions and borders of the breasts then the breasts will be distorted by the implants and have a more unnatural, augmented look.

Intra-Operative Sizing

In some cases, the ideal breast implant size is not completely clear based on our pre-operative planning. Usually we have narrowed the choices to two different implants sizes, but you can’t get totally comfortable with the selection. In these cases, we perform the ultimate implant try-on.

That is, we will try different implants in the O.R. This is a simple thing to do and only adds a few minutes to your surgery. Each breast implant has a corresponding temporary implant “sizer”. After the implant pocket is surgically created within your breasts, the sizing implant is placed. Then the results are assessed by one of our surgeons and they choose the size that is closest to your wishes. The sizer implant is removed and the permanent implants are placed.

Words of Caution About Breast Implant Size

The size and aesthetics you wish to achieve with your breast augmentation are very personal choices and are up to you. However, many issues should be considered in determining your size. Such as:

  • Do I want my breasts to look natural; a little augmented; or obviously augmented?
  • How will my breast implants affect my lifestyle, such as athletic activities?
  • How will my breast implants affect available bra and clothing choices?
  • How will my breast implants affect the health and aging of my breasts?
  • Will my breast implants put me at high risk for having visible implant ripples?
  • Will my breast implants put me at high risk for needing a breast lift later in life?
  • Will my breast implants affect posture and lead to back and shoulder pain, such as can occur in women with very large, natural breasts?
  • Will the size I am choosing now be desirable for me 10 or 20 years from now?

Generally, very large breast implants will obviously look unnatural and will put you at risk for many of the problems listed above. That is, very large implants will likely cause accelerated aging of the breasts that may lead to sagging, tissue thinning, implant visibility (including visible ripples), and the need to re-operate to treat these problems. In severe cases, such problems may not be correctable with additional surgery.

We can help you with your breast implant sizing to reduce these risks. We have a lot of experience with implant sizing and have thousands of happy patients. A big part of the successful results and the pretty look we achieve is based on the breast implant size and style we help our patients select. The average size implant used in our practice is about 350 cc. Larger sizes are certainly used, but typically do not we exceed 550 cc. The exact size implant to minimize risk to breast health is not known. But, as a general concept smaller breast implants are better, especially throughout the course of a woman’s life.

But, “all of my friends have told me they wish they went with bigger implants.” We hear this comment a lot from new patients. But, what most women don’t discuss with their friends are the “nightmare” cases in which very large implants were used and problems occurred. Women don’t tend to hear about the cases of women with very large implants that have had problems with rippling, sagging and corrective surgery. We think that if women shared these stories openly, then many patients undergoing breast augmentation would be less inclined to choose very large implants.

Breast Implant Size Is A Long-Term Decision

Breast augmentation can sometimes be an experience of immediate gratification. We advise that you temper your immediate goals (which sometimes include having very large breasts) with the reality that this is a long-term life decision you are making. That is, think about how your breasts will look in the future, as much as how they will look in the first year after augmentation. We will help you through this process and try to help you make a wise choice. Please be assured: we are very good at this. The overwhelming majority of our patients are thrilled with their breast size after augmentation and we rarely return to surgery to replace a patient’s implants due to undesirable size.

The Choice Of Breast Implant Size Is Yours

Ultimately the breast implant size you select is your choice. We respect your needs and your prerogative in making this very personal decision. Simply put- we are dedicated to providing you with the results you desire.

Contact our office in Portland for more information on breast implant dimensions and sizes or to schedule a consultation. Call (503) 783-0544 or use our online form. Esprit® Cosmetic Surgeons will be glad to help!

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The surgeons at Esprit® Cosmetic Surgeons in Portland are highly-skilled in breast surgery and individualize every procedure to meet the unique needs of each patient. Our goal is to help every woman feel confident in her body, no matter the reason she chooses breast augmentation. Schedule a consultation with one of our doctors today!