How to Choose the Right Size Breast Implant

It’s important to select a breast implant which is the right shape and size for you – an implant that is going to give you a natural, long-lasting result and hopefully not cause any distortion to the surrounding soft tissues of the chest wall. Breast augmentation surgery involves considerable cost. Changing your implants once they have been placed involves further surgery and further costs – so it’s important to choose your implants wisely.

There are some important parts of the physical examination which will be used to determine what volume implant is going to be the right one for you – one that is going to give you a result which is natural and proportional with your overall physique. Here are the basic measurements plastic surgeons perform in determining your optimal breast implant size and shape.

1. Base Width – this is the measurement of the width of your breast. It is the most important factor in determining what volume augmentation you will end up having. For a given base width diameter, most breast implant manufacturers will then offer three or four options of projection (how far the implant projects off the chest wall).

2. Upper and Lower Soft Tissue Pinch Test. It is important the breast implant has a good coverage of soft tissue – otherwise the shape of the implant will be clearly visible resulting in an unnatural result. If there is less than 2cm of “pinch” in the upper part of the breast, the implant should probably be placed under the muscle (rather than under the gland) to camouflage the presence of the implant.

3. Soft Tissue Stretch Test. Some women have tight skin over their breasts – in particular young women who have never had children, Women who have previously had a family often have loose skin over their breasts. Plastic surgeons can measure the laxity in your breast skin. Those patients with looser skin may need a larger implant to “fill up” the space. Those patients with tighter skin may be better off with a slightly smaller implant so the tissues of the breast aren’t over-stretched.

4. Nipple to Inframammary Fold (IMF) Distance. This is the distance from the nipple to the fold underneath the breast. The nipple needs to be on the most projecting part of the implant. The nipple to IMF distance occasionally needs to be adjusted to make sure this happens.

Finally, many plastic surgeons will get you to put on a sports bra and you will be given “sizers” of different volumes. You will then be able to see in the mirror roughly the kind of “look” you will get with an implant of a given volume.

The goal of breast implant surgery is to have a natural result, which is long lasting. I advise my patient not to go for too large an implant if there body is not suited to it. Although you may be happy with the result early on, there is no doubt that the risk of early discomfort and later complications and distortion is far greater in patients who have implants which are too large for the soft tissue of their breasts. A more modest augmentation will make your initial surgery LESS painful and your long-term result more reliable.

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