Breast implants are sized using the measurement of cubic centimeters, typically shortened to “cc.” But since so many of us only have to wrap our heads around what a “cc” means when choosing breast implants, decoding implant sizes requires a bit of education. Dr. Schlesinger has your back! Continue reading to get a board certified plastic surgeon’s answers to your questions about how this measurement is used, the limits of measuring breast implants by volume, and how to figure out the right size of implant to get the look you want from your breast augmentation.
A cubic centimeter, or cc, is a very small amount of volume. For comparison, there are about 237 cc’s of volume in a U.S. liquid measuring cup. Breast implant volume is measured in the number of cubic centimeters of liquid or gel filling (either saline or silicone gel) inside the silicone shell of the implant.
The number of cc’s are often used as a shorthand to describe the size of implant—i.e. “a 350 cc breast implant.” As common as this measurement is, the implant cc volume only gives you a partial understanding of a breast implant. Implants also come in a variety of fill types, diameters, profiles (level of projection), and shapes, which are equally important choices you make when selecting an implant.
Breast implants range in volume from about 100 to 800 cc, with some variation among different manufacturers.
It is often said that about 150 cc – 200 cc in breast implant volume is comparable to a single cup size increase. However, if you are taller than average or have a wide build, the number of cc’s needed to give you a cup size boost will likely be greater, as the diameter of the implant necessary to achieve that look will be greater and the volume spread more thinly.
While you may use this estimate in order to approximate cc to cup size, this is not a scientific equivalency: cubic centimeters are a volume measurement that cannot be directly equated to bra cup size because many other qualities of the implant profile and width, as well as your natural features, strongly influence the final appearance of your augmented breasts. (See “How do I choose an implant size in cc’s?” below for more information about what we take into consideration.)
Cubic centimeters, or cc’s, are a volume measurement that cannot be directly equated to bra size.
Further complicating the ability to equate cc with bra size are the size variations among brands of bras (they are not standardized), the varying volume of each cup size based on the band size, and the different bra sizes that a woman may comfortably wear (for example, someone who wears a 36B may also, in many cases, also fit comfortably in a 34C.) Whether or not the oft-repeated statistic that 80% of women wear the wrong size of bra is actually true or not, bra size is not standardized to begin with.
The answer to this question depends on your underbust measurement, how much breast tissue you have to begin with, and the look you have in mind when you picture a C cup. This is why it is so important to consider all the nuances of your anatomy and goals with your board certified plastic surgeon. During your consultation, you will be able to try on breast implant sizers, handle real implants, and ultimately select the implant volume and profile necessary to achieve your desired look.
While many believe they can look online for ideal results and choose the same number of cc’s, the complexity of implant sizing means it is best to put the question of cc’s aside in your early research, instead focusing on your overall goals. Only after communicating how you want to look after breast augmentation in consultation with your plastic surgeon—using photos and breast implant sizers as guides—will you be able to select the ideal implant size for your body.
In my consultations, I help my patients select a breast implant to achieve their desired look based on the following factors:
During our consultation, you will also make a number of other decisions about your surgery besides implant volume, including:
In many cases, we will settle on a select range of implant sizes that seems right, and I will choose from this set once I have accessed the breast pocket and made my final assessment during surgery. Since most women have some degree of existing natural asymmetry, I take care to assess each side individually and choose an implant with a smaller or larger number of cc’s to compensate.
It is likely that your breast size will appear larger to you after your implants have settled, or “dropped,” about 6 months (sometimes longer) following surgery. Here’s how “drop and fluff” happens: Immediately following surgery with under-the-muscle implant placement, the chest muscle (pectoralis) is constricted in response to the outward pressure from the new implant. This constriction causes newly-augmented breasts to appear slightly higher on the chest, with a tight, stiff appearance. As the chest muscle relaxes, implants will gradually drop lower on the chest and “fluff out,” taking on a more natural shape.
This is a completely normal part of the healing process, and most patients feel it is well worth getting implants under the muscle, since this placement tends to lead to breasts that feel like a natural part of your body.
The most commonly chosen breast implant volume is in the range of 350 cc to 550 cc.
Yes, the volume of your implant matters. First, it should be calibrated to achieve your desired look. Second, the larger you go, the more important it is to consider your anatomical details and any potential limitations. For example, if you have thin skin and/or thin natural breast tissue, a higher-volume implant may cause rippling, and in these cases, I will recommend a lower cc range.
Beyond cc’s, implants also come in a variety of fill types, diameters, profiles, and shapes, which are equally important choices you make when selecting an implant.
The width of your implant is equally important to prevent a visible “rippling” appearance. I will match the diameter of the implant to (or just under) the width of your breast base to prevent rippling along the edges. Finally, we will also consider the profile (low, high, or moderate profile) to determine how much projection and upper pole fullness your final results will have. All three of these factors—width, profile, and volume—are critical in implant selection.
Weight gain or loss will not affect the size of your implants, but it will change how your results look in proportion with the rest of your body. A major fluctuation in weight can dramatically affect the way that your results look—and how happy you are with them.
To prevent these issues, I encourage my patients to undergo breast augmentation only when they are at a stable weight that they are happy with. Many women find that their weight fluctuates within a small range throughout their life; this is something I will take into consideration during our consultation, and which may not affect your happiness with your results. But if you are unhappy with your weight or find that it is difficult to sustain, I recommend waiting to undergo breast augmentation until your size is stable.
To get answers to all of your breast implant questions, call 808.597.8835 or contact us online to schedule your Honolulu breast augmentation consultation with board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Schlesinger. With over 30 years of surgical experience, he has helped countless women find the perfect implants to help them look and feel their best.