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How to Choose Breast Implant Size?

There is no perfect way to estimate what cup size a patient will be after adding a certain amount of cc’s.¬†At Hedden Plastic Surgery in Birmingham, Alabama, we perform more than a thousand breast augmentations per year, and what we find to be the most anxiety-producing part of the procedure for the patient is choosing a breast implant size.

To start with, remember that different bras will say you are different sizes as well as the fact that women wear their bras differently. So we commonly see women come in that think they are a size C but then they state the top part of the bra is not full or that in a Victoria’s Secret bra they are larger than in another brand. So, you should not get fixated on a cup size but rather what that size looks like on you. To help, here are a few helpful hints we have learned with all the implants we place. Remember to let the doctor give you the direction based on your anatomy first, which should help you narrow the range down.

First, use a height conversion chart

  • 5’2 or less – 180-200 cc per cup
  • 5’2-5’5 – 200-225 cc per cup
  • 5’5 or taller – 225 cc or more per cup

Second, try on actual sizers at the doctor’s office so you could get a visual idea of what the added volume will look like. Most practices have these available for you at your consultation.

Third, look at as many before & after pictures as you can. Most practices should have several for you to look at.

Use the Rice Test

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.

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.
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.

With all of this information as well as the advice from your surgeon you should be able to narrow down the size that is right for you. Just remember that the number one complaint early postoperative is that the patient wishes she had gone larger.

Good Luck!

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