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Procedure Guide Choosing Your New Size

Choosing Your New Breast Size

Breast augmentation model

Choosing your new breast size is an important decision and can be stressful, but many women find it to be the most exciting part of preparing for their breast augmentation procedure. You will choose your new size with the help and guidance of your plastic surgeon. Think carefully about your goals and experiment with different sizes to find the one that's right for you.

Educate Yourself Prior to Your Consultation

The rice test is a good way to begin educating yourself about breast augmentation sizing and prepare for your consultation with a plastic surgeon. At this meeting, you will discuss your size goals, "try on" different sizes and decide if you want to proceed with surgery.

Bring to the consultation anything that will give the surgeon an idea of your size goal, including photos, your notes from the rice test and bras you might like to wear. If you decide to go ahead with breast augmentation surgery, you will probably finalize your size decision at a pre-op appointment.

Breast augmentation swimsuit model

Smaller vs. Larger Implants

Though you will receive guidance from your plastic surgeon and may value the opinions of family members and friends, choosing your new breast size is ultimately up to you.

Many surgeons recommend the smallest breast implants that will give you a both a well-proportioned and natural looking appearance. With smaller breast implants, the changes in your body contour are more subtle, adjusting to your new size is easier and your breasts will be less prone to sagging and other complications.

Breast augmentation swimsuit model

On the other hand, you may feel that you would receive a positive benefit from breast enhancement using larger breast implants. Many women end up saying they should have "gone bigger" after their breast augmentation.

To determine the right size for you, think carefully about your goals for breast augmentation and work closely with your surgeon and his or her staff as you review your size possibilities. And remember that after surgery, you will probably not see your final result for at least several weeks as the breast tissues stretch and allow the implants to settle into position.

For much more about breast implants, including specifics on the different sizes, types and styles, visit our section All About Breast Implants.

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Rice Test

To do the rice test:

  • Cut a 12-inch length of pantyhose & tie a knot in one end.
  • Fill according to the chart below (in cups) to simulate breast implant volumes (in cc's).
  • Wear the "rice implants" inside a sports bra.
  • Start thinking about your size goal.

You can begin to get a rough idea of how you might look with breast implants by doing the rice test. Using bags of rice worn inside a sports bra, you can "try on" different sizes very quickly and become educated about fill volume measurements in cubic centimeters (cc's) prior to discussing size with your plastic surgeon. You may want to use bras in several different sizes to experiment with and to simulate how you may look and feel at different sizes.

To make your "homemade" breast implants, cut a 12-inch length of pantyhose (don't use the foot portion) and tie a knot in one end. Then, fill the length with rice according to the chart below to simulate breast implants of various sizes. To try a different size, pour the rice back into the measuring cup and re-measure. Ziploc bags can be used instead of stockings, though stockings are usually more comfortable and conform more easily into shape when placed inside the bra. Different fillers can also be used, including water, instant mashed potatoes and oatmeal.

Amount of Rice (cups) Implant Volume Simulated
(cubic centimeters)
0.53 cup 125 cc
0.63 cup 150 cc
0.74 cup 175 cc
0.85 cup 200 cc
0.95 cup 225 cc
1.06 cups 250 cc
1.16 cups 275 cc
1.27 cups 300 cc
1.37 cups 325 cc
1.48 cups 350 cc
1.59 cups 375 cc
1.8 cups 425 cc
2.01 cups 475 cc
2.22 cups 525 cc
2.43 cups 575 cc
2.64 cups 625 cc
2.96 cups 700 cc

For example, to test your appearance with 350 cc breast implants, fill your stocking with just under 1 1/2 cups of rice.

Once you have prepared your "rice implants," try on different shirts, blouses and bathing suit tops and look at yourself in the mirror. Wear them around the house, to the gym, to run errands and see how your activities are affected. Ask trusted friends, family members and your significant other for their opinions. Think about how you would look and feel with breast implants of various sizes. Take notes throughout the test and take them along if you decide to see a plastic surgeon.

The rice test is valuable as a fast and easy way to approximate your appearance with various implant sizes. Just remember that it is only a general guide for sizing and should be considered mainly as a way to begin educating yourself and prepare for your consultation with a plastic surgeon.

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Your Sizing Consultation

Much of the discussion at your first consultation with a plastic surgeon will be about your goals and expectations for your target breast size. You will probably not make your final decision at this meeting, but you will communicate to the surgeon the sizes you are considering, receive expert advice on how to achieve your desired result and decide if you want to proceed with breast augmentation surgery.

Breast implants model

Your surgeon will also review other cosmetic aspects of your breasts and may recommend round or contoured (anatomical) implants. See our section on types of breast implants to learn more about the many options available in breast implants, including size, profile, shape and texture.

To prepare for your consultation, look through before and after photos, magazines, catalogs, etc., for photos that illustrate what you are considering as your size goal. Ideally, the women in your photos should have the same body type as you. It may also be helpful to take photos that illustrate what you consider as too small and too large. Also take your notes from the rice test and perhaps bras that you would like to wear. The important thing is to give the surgeon a general idea of what you have in mind for your size goal.

During the consultation, you will probably be given actual breast implants to touch and feel. Surgeons also use "sizers" that are placed into a surgical bra or sports bra to provide you with an idea of what you might look like with various implants. As you "try on" different sizes, photos may be taken that you can look at later to help you make your final decision.

Breast augmentation swimsuit model

The sizing at your consultation allows you to become familiar with actual breast implants, simulate your appearance with implants of various sizes and ask the doctor any questions you may have about breast augmentation and your possibilities as an individual. See our complete section on your consultation with a plastic surgeon for much more about this important step in the breast augmentation process.

If you decide to schedule your surgery, you will probably review sizing and finalize your choice at a pre-op appointment. Your surgeon and his or her staff will start with the size you considered during the first sizing, do another examination and answer any additional questions you may have.

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Overfilling

Saline filled breast implants are designed to be filled to a specified volume range. When implants are "overfilled," they are filled with saline solution above the nominal volume of the implant but within the maximum volume recommended by the manufacturer.

If you choose saline breast implants, be sure to ask your surgeon if he or she recommends overfilling. Filling saline implants to the highest recommended volume gives most women the best performance in terms of feel and reducing the risk of deflation, rippling and sloshing. However, the warranty on your implants may be jeopardized if they are filled above the maximum level.

See our section on breast implant styles for descriptions and specifications, including recommended fill volumes, for the saline breast implants made by Mentor, Allergan (Natrelle Collection) and Sientra.

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Bra Sizing

Studies indicate that the majority of women don't know their proper bra size. Women should check their bra size at least once a year, or when their breasts change in size due to pregnancy, a change in weight or after breast augmentation. If you are considering breast augmentation, knowing how to calculate bra sizes can help when you experiment with larger bras as you go about the process of selecting your new breast size.

The simple formula described below can provide you with a good idea of your bra size, but differences in physical characteristics, such as breast shape and spacing, can also affect how a bra fits. There can also be minor differences in the same size bra offered by different bra makers. After determining your bra size, use it as a starting point to find the style and size that works best for you.

Calculating Your Bra Size

Your bra size is a combination of the band size and the cup size. For example:

  1. Band size measurement is 37 inches + 5 inches = 42-inch band size
  2. Cup size measurement is 45 inches – 42 inches = 3-inch difference (C cup)
  3. Bra size is 42C

Band Size — To determine your band size, put on your best fitting bra and use a soft tape measure around your ribcage, directly underneath your breasts. Make sure the tape stays snug, level and smooth. Take this measurement and add 5 inches. If this calculation comes to an odd number, round up to the nearest even number. Refer to the chart below to match your ribcage circumference with your band size.

Ribcage Circumference (inches) Band Size
24-25 30
26-27 32
28-29 34
30-31 36
32-33 38
34-35 40
36-37 42
38-39 44
40-41 46
42-43 48
44-45 50
46-47 52
48-49 54

Cup Size — To determine your cup size, measure around the body at the fullest point of the breasts. Make sure the tape measure is straight and level, but not too tight. The difference between this measurement and the first measurement (band size) is your cup size. Refer to the chart below to match your difference in ribcage and bustline measurements with your cup size.

Difference in Ribcage & Bustline Measurements (inches) Cup Size
less than 1 AA
1 A
2 B
3 C
4 D
5 DD or E
6 DDD or F
7 FF or G

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more resources:

  • Breast Surgery Procedures — Learn about other breast surgery procedures — Breast Lifts, Breast Reduction and Breast Reconstruction.
  • Breast Anatomy — Understanding the general anatomy of the breasts is helpful to women considering Breast Implants.
  • Breast Cancer Screening — All women, including those with breast implants, should undergo regular Breast Cancer Screenings.

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