Medically reviewed by T K Sankar, Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon
If you’ve decided that you’d like a breast augmentation, one of the first things to consider is the best size breast implants for your body. And when thinking about your desired look, it’s important to take into account the overall appearance.
Are you a young woman trying to create curves on a small, slender frame? Maybe you’re looking to balance out unevenly sized breasts, or a bottom-heavy frame? Are you hoping to reshape your silhouette after a large increase/loss of weight? Do you want to reconstruct the breast after surgery? Or address age-related volume loss or sagging?
Different answers will result in different sizes, shapes, and types of implants. And why you’re having breast implants will need to be carefully considered alongside your lifestyle, age, existing body shape, and skin type.
While it may help you to assess whether you would like to increase by one or more bra cup sizes, implants aren’t sized in this way because bra sizes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Although implants come in a range of shapes, sizes, and textures, most providers use round or anatomical/teardrop shaped implants, filled with either silicone or saline.
Plastic surgeons work in cubic centilitres (cc), which is more precise than bra cup sizes. Different women will require differently sized implants to increase by a cup size, as this is related to the measurement around their rib cage, under the bust.
The normal range of breast implant sizes can be from 125cc up to 600cc (anything larger than this would require a custom-made implant). The width of the base can vary depending on the shape and size of the implant and the ‘profile’ or projection can range from ‘low’ to ‘very/ultra high’.
Please note that brands will categorise their implants differently, so sticking with measurements by volume or weight will help avoid confusion. The base width and profile of an implant can have just as much impact as the size because the base width needs to match the breast width and projection needs to match the availability of skin excess, so it’s important to assess the overall shape.
Before undergoing breast enlargement, it’s very important to consider your natural body shape. This includes height, weight, chest and shoulder width, torso length, hip width, breast size, and body fat levels.
Your surgeon will measure the dimensions of your natural breasts and assess breast tissue thickness. What looks flattering on a tall, broad, or pear-shaped woman could appear very unnatural on a small, slender one with narrow hips and naturally smaller breasts.
This has resulted in the increasing popularity of breast augmentations which use smaller breast implants (or so-called ‘mini boob jobs’) or fat transfer from another part of the body. The term covers using small breast implants to go up by half a cup size, creating a more natural look and comfortable feel for slender women.
Although they still carry the risk of complications, this is lower with small breast implants and post-op recovery may be swifter than with larger implants.
It’s not just appearance that needs to be considered when a woman chooses breast augmentation. She must be able to accommodate the implants safely.
For example, there may not be enough body fat to stretch over a large implant without skin looking ‘see through’, or creating permanent stretch marks. Rippling, premature sagging, and implant malposition/lateral displacement—also known as ‘bottoming out’, or the ‘double bubble’ effect—can also occur.
While a woman with more body fat and wider hips may find that the larger and/or wider implants look flattering, going too large can result in back and neck pain, as well as posture problems. Unfortunately, big breast implants are also more likely to be rejected by the body, causing hardening of the skin (capsular contracture).
It’s not solely about whether to choose between the ‘natural’ look or the appearance of large breasts. Lifestyle will play an important role in deciding breast implant size. For example, how active a woman is, whether or not she has had children and her age are all important considerations.
This is because athletic women will want an implant size that won’t impede their ability to run or partake in sport.
Equally, women who haven’t had children yet will need to consider the potential effect of weight fluctuations on the breast area — as well as the potential risk to the ability to breastfeed that certain placements of implants can pose.
Learn more about breast implants and pregnancy.
Skin and muscle tone also change with age, which will need to be considered, particularly the potential strain caused by large breast implants.
You can perform your own breast implant size comparisons at home using dry rice and a pair of tights. Then you can confirm your gut instincts by trying on some implant sizers during your consultation.
It’s also worth viewing our breast augmentation before and after pictures and taking note of women with a similar body shape to yours to get an idea of how different breast implant sizes may look on you. The ones that best match your desired look can be brought along to your cosmetic surgery consultation.
Please note that the above is only intended as a guide to prepare you for your individual plastic surgery consultation. A qualified, experienced, and GMC specialist registered surgeon should make an in-depth assessment of how best to achieve your desired look.
At The Harley Medical Group, our patients are our number one priority - if you are considering breast surgery, whether augmentation, implant removal or breast reduction, our expert plastic surgeons can advise which route is best and safest for you.