What size is a 200cc, 300cc, 350cc, 400cc, 500cc, 600cc, breast implant?

measuring for breast implant size

Patients interested in breast implants often get locked in on the implant size instead of the actual breast cup size they desire. Since the beginning of breast implants, prospective breast augmentation patients attempt to research what they want by researching the implant size by cc volume instead of their pre-operative measurements. It’s easy to get mesmerized by cc volume as compared to a friend who already has breast implants, or by the array of breast augmentation photos across the internet.  What those photos often don’t include are the pre-operative measurements including true bra and cup size, the diameter measurement of the implanted breast implant, and the projection measurement.

Comparing apples to oranges is a huge mistake when researching breast implant sizes. To begin, most ladies are wearing the wrong sized bra. Ladies have been wrongly taught for decades how to properly measure for the best fitting bra. The biggest mistake is measuring ON-TOP of the breasts instead of just below the breast. That measurement gives you your accurate diameter. The cup size follow, but ladies need to understand that cups are not the exact same size from 32, 34, 36, 38, etc. measurements. A 34-D cup is not the same D cup size for a 32 or 36.  If you doubt this revelation, then we challenge you to go to a department store to compare a 34 D to a 36 D.  The 36-D cup is actually the same cup size as a 34-DD.  That’s why when you have shopped for a 32-B bra in the past, couldn’t find your size but the sales associate offers up a 34-A instead.  It’s never a good idea to wear a larger diameter bra according to what fits your cup because you will not benefit from that bra and its actual purpose: support. If your bra doesn’t fit you snugly around your chest, you just might be wearing the wrong size bra.

Now that we’ve explored the different bra cups, that means that a D-cup for 32-D, 34-D, 36-D, etc. are ALL DIFFERENT CUPS. Therefore, a C or D cup on you is not likely to translate as the same for all those pictures scattered across the web claiming a certain volume size implant is a D-cup result. The truth couldn’t be further from this fiction.

For instance, take a lady who was a true 32-A bra size prior to breast augmentation surgery.  This patient desired to be a small D. To achieve this result, the implant chosen was a 400cc saline implant.  Years later, this same patient decided she wanted to go bigger. To increase her bra size from a D to a DD, the implant size had to be increased at least 100cc to achieve this result. The actual volume ended up being 540.  This example brings us to another eye-roll in this industry: parsing implant sizes by 10 or 20cc thinking it will make a difference. Do not argue with your plastic surgeon over this little of a difference thinking it will actually make a size difference. It won’t.  All that means is that breast implants are available in these minor differences.

We’ve witnessed patients argue over implants sizes between 325 or 330.  Insert eye-roll here. There is so little difference between these two implants. They would amount to the same cup size. To change cup sizes, the implant volume would need to increase usually by 100cc. The larger the implant, the larger the increase is needed for a larger cup size.

Now let’s explore the hundreds of implant sizes available. Yes, I said hundreds. Why so many sizes? Because not everyone has the same size breasts, same size chests, and same goals according to desired cup size. Implants are chosen by your plastic surgeon first by a measurement made of your breast WIDTH. Implants come in diameter widths, projection profiles, and volumes. For example, say a patient is a 32-A pre-operatively. This patient desires to be a full c-cup. This patient’s breast measurement is 12 cm. For 12 cm, there are five different implants profiles to choose from with Natrelle brand silicone gel smooth round breast implants.  These profiles are Low Profile, Low-Plus Profile, Moderate Profile, Full Profile, and Extra Full Profile.  With a 12 cm measurement, the five different volumes that match that diameter are 230cc for Low-Profile which would be a B-cup result, 250cc for Low-Plus Profile also a B-cup result, 310cc for moderate profile, which may be a small C-cup, 365cc for the more common chosen Full-Profile which would be a C-cup, then 445cc for the Extra-Full Profile implant that would be more of a small D-cup.  However, for a patient with a larger beginning chest diameter measurement, these implant examples would be completely different to achieve the desired result. The purpose of this example to help describe the process of implant sizing according to the patient’s chest measurement. No one wants implants too narrow or too wide for their body. The implant chosen for you should be chosen according to your chest measurement, then choose the appropriate volume and projection to achieve your goal. Breast augmentation patients should not get hung-up on a particular implant size according to someone else on the web. A 500cc implant may be a full D cup for one patient, but for a patient with a larger chest diameter it may only be a C cup.  A 300cc implant may be a B cup for one patient, but for another patient who may have started with some breast tissue prior to surgery and different diameter it may equate as a C cup for them. It may also be two completely different diameters and projections.

What do I do to see if I want to be a B-cup, C-cup, or D-cup?

A B-cup? You can’t be serious. In my 20 years of managing a plastic surgery practice, no patient really wanted a B-cup. What they describe and show pictures of are usually C or D cups. The best advice I can give to help you decide what size you want to be would be to go to TJ Maxx and buy some bras that are one and two cup sizes larger than what you currently are. Such as, if you are a 34-B, then buy a 34-C and 34-D bra.  Next, go home and fill some plastic zip-lock baggies with uncooked rice. Fill four baggies until they fill the cups of the bras you purchased. You are likely going to need to fill them more or less until they fill out the cups with the bras on. Stuff the bras, put on a shirt and take some selfies in the mirror to compare the two different sizes.

Also in my 20 years of working in plastic surgery, the number one “regret” breast augmentation patients have is they wish they had gone bigger. Almost all breast augmentation patients initially think a C-cup is “big” or “huge.”  The truth is, most patients choose to be a D-cup.

Article by:

Pamela Howard

Patient Coordinator, Assistant, & Office Manager

Scars and Breasts

Plastic surgeons obsess about scars.  Many people who consult with a plastic surgeon do so because of their ability to deal with scarring on the skin as well as our ability to create the best or least noticeable scars.  To create the best scars requires more than vigilance in suturing wounds, it requires the ability to know how scars can be expected to heal on certain parts of the body as well as the ability to use wrinkles (or relaxed skin tension lines), shadows, and anatomic structures to camouflage or hide scars.  For instance, it is a well-known fact that scars located within hair-bearing skin are more forgiving than other scars and can be well hidden within the hair of the scalp, pubis, or armpit (axilla).  Another basic premise of wound healing is the fact that tension is generally bad for scar healing.  Let us also agree that any scar visible on the otherwise flawless female breast cannot in and of itself be desirable yet it can be tolerable.

Breast augmentation seems to be one of the only plastic surgical procedures where surgeons will ignore many of the basic tenets of wound healing in order to make the operation easier to perform.  Honestly evaluating the currently available incisions used to place implants in breast augmentation will lead us to choose the incision most likely to leave the best or least noticeable scar.

The most commonly performed incision for breast augmentation is called the Inframammary, or beneath the breast, incision.  It is frequently chosen for many reasons, but arriving at the best scar is not among them.  Suffice it to say that regardless of the incision chosen, the ability to place the implant in the proper position is achieved leaving only the quality of the scar as evidence that an operation had been performed.   If the scar is off the breast or imperceptible, the patient can maintain what I call plausible deniability with respect to their plastic surgical procedure.   Without a scar as evidence, nicer breasts can be attributed to genetics, hormones, or even good luck.

The approach to breast augmentation with an incision that fulfills most if not all of our criteria for a good scar is the transaxillary, or armpit approach.  This incision is placed within the hair-baring skin of the armpit, therefore is not on the breast and is not effected by the increased skin tension created with the placement of the implant.  The incision being located off the breast allows for early implant massage which is known to improve position and “softness.”  Finally, the incision in the armpit does not indicate what operation was performed even if slightly visible.  The axillary incision does not scream “breast augmentation” as the Inframammary incision does.

The periareolar incision is located around the dark part of the nipple at the junction between the areola and the lighter breast skin.  The incision placement makes good plastic surgical sense because the areas between light and dark skin are good for camouflaging scars.  The periareolar incision does suffer from its placement in an area of increased tension after placing implants and is not a useful incision if the nipple/areola complex is naturally small.  This incision suffers from a further problem: it is the most likely incision to cause permanent numbness on the breast skin.  Certainly a numb nipple is not desirable regardless of the benefits.

The transaxillary incision has been around 30 years yet one hears a litany of “possible” problems using this incision.  The perceived problems include “nerve damage” due to proximity to the brachial plexus, implant malposition, “high implants” as well as other non-specific problems that seem to be due to a generalized discomfort using the incision.

Suffice it to say that most surgeons who do not offer the transaxillary incision simply do not know how to do it, are amateurs who are not board certified plastic surgeons, or are operating at such high volumes they choose the easiest incision to meet their time constraints.  The published plastic surgery literature does not recognize rare problems such as nerve damage or malposition as complications related to the transaxillary incision.

Dr. Paul Howard pioneered the use of the endoscope for minimal incision breast augmentation surgery using the armpit incision.  Read more about Dr. Paul Howard’s breast augmentation.

Breast Implant Armpit Incision

Photo shows a healed armpit scar after having breast augmentation surgery.

View breast augmentation before and after photos.

About Breast Augmentation by Paul S. Howard, MD, FACS

Breast augmentation has been the most popular plastic surgery procedure among women for decades. Breast enhancement surgery can improve a woman’s image in clothing, swimwear, and overall figure. Breast augmentation mammoplasty is the surgical procedure to enhance the appearance of the breast with implants. These implants are surgically placed by creating a submuscular pocket for the implant. Dr. Howard does not prefer implant placement in the sub-glandular (on top of the muscle) position due to the un-natural appearance and the increased risk of capsular contracture (hardening of the implants).

Read more about top breast augmentation surgeon Dr. Paul Howard in Birmingham, Alabama.