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 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 12cm. For 12cm, 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 12cm 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
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The Basics on Breast Augmentation by Paul Howard, MD

Breast augmentation with saline or silicone implants has become an increasingly popular option for women either born with a small chest of for those who suffer from the effects of child birth or have gained and then lost a lot of weight.  Breast imperfections compiled with the societal preference for a larger bust have caused the most frequently performed surgeries done by plastic surgeons to be the breast augmentation.  The operation can be a challenge to perform as there are a number of decisions the patient and surgeon must make to obtain the best results.

The first and most basic decision is the choice of breast size and the possible need for a breast lift or mastopexy in addition to augmentation.  Next, the type of implant should be explored.  Some people desire the “natural” feel of silicone implants and others prefer the improved projection and lifting obtained with saline implants.  The surgeon will usually recommend that the implants be placed in the sub-muscular position (beneath the pectoralis muscle) although on very rare occasions sub-mammary (beneath the breast tissue and on top of the pectoralis muscle) placement may be indicated.

Finally, the incision location is discussed.  There are basically four different incisions available:  axillary (armpit), peri-areolar (around the nipple/areola), infra-mammary (under the breast), and umbilical (through the belly button).  Most surgeons will know 2 or 3 of these approaches with the “TUBA” or trans-umbilical approach being the least performed incision.  In many instances the trans-axillary is recommended due to its location in the armpit away from the breast itself, the quality of the scar in the hair-bearing skin of the trans-axillary and the fact that early implant manipulation to keep the implants in position perfectly in the sub-muscular pocket without putting pressure on the breast incision.

Price shopping breast augmentation is a calculated risk as one is shopping a general anesthetic also.   New plastic surgeons performing breast augmentation are generally a “one trick pony.”  That is, they tend to offer implants and rarely breast lifts (which are harder to do), nor do they offer a selection of breast incisions as the infra-mammary incision seems to be the easiest for the amateur surgeon to perform.

The caveat is to always check the credentials of your surgeon as there are no “weekend” courses to teach breast augmentation.  Also, beware of the “less is more” argument.   That is, minimal training as a “cosmetic surgeon” is somehow better than completing a full plastic surgeon residency resulting in American Board of Plastic Surgery Board Certification as a REAL Plastic Surgeon.  Breast augmentation gone wrong is very difficult to reconstruct and shopping for the cheapest surgeon does not guarantee board certification, clinical judgment, or experience.

Read more about Dr. Paul Howard and breast augmentation.