Deciding proper implant size is one of the more challenging aspects of breast augmentation in the Phoenix area for many patients and surgeons. Patients are often surprised to find out that the relationship between implant size and final breast appearance can be quite complex.
The first thing patients need to understand is that the term cc (cubic centimeter) simply refers to volume. To convert this from the metric system into ounces, 1 ounce equals approximately 30 ccs. In other words, a 300cc implant has a total volume of 300 cubic centimeters or approximately 10 ounces.
How this volume impacts a given patient depends on many factors. For example, when patients ask how many ccs make a given cup size, I answer their question with another question: how far can you drive on a gallon of gas? They usually pause and say: “it depends on which car I’m driving.” Clearly one can drive a lot farther on one gallon of gas in a Prius than in a Hummer. Likewise, a 300cc implant will look a lot bigger on someone who is 5’1″ and 100 pounds than it will look in someone who is 5’10” and 175 pounds.
Another factor that determines the final result is your pre-existing breast tissue. Some patients start off with a lot more breast tissue than others. The final breast volume is made up of both the natural breast volume and the implant volume. In other words, Preexisting Breast Volume + Implant Volume = Final Breast Volume, so the less natural breast tissue you have, the more implant you will need to reach a given volume.
Another consideration is the elasticity of the tissues, or how much the skin stretches. Patients with very tight, thick tissues will tend to compress the implant more, making it look smaller. Patients with looser tissues will stretch more, allowing the implant to look larger.
There are certainly many other considerations I make when deciding on an implant size, such as breast width, ribcage shape, asymmetry, etc. All of these variables affect final breast appearance. This is why two patients who have a similar final appearance may have very different sized implants. This is also why I feel it is easier for a patient to choose a desired “look” than to choose an implant size. It’s hard for an experienced surgeon to know exactly how a particular implant will look in a given patient, so imagine how difficult it would be for patients to select their own size! I’ll explain more about how I make my implant choices soon in part 2 of this discussion.