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Breast Implant Cup Size & Expectations of Breast Augmentation Surgery

Article courtesy of John B. Tebbetts, M.D.
March 15, 2010

The following article is an excerpt from Dr. Tebbetts book, The Best Breast 2: Although some methods of defining breast size are popular, they are not as accurate as we might like to believe. First, let’s consider how not to define your desired breast.

Cup size—especially cup size alone

Cup size is not even a consistent fashion measurement, let alone a medical term that can accurately and consistently define breast size. But it’s probably the most common yardstick women use. Any woman who has ever shopped for bras knows that a B is not a B is not a B. Although the labels say the same size, when you put them on, some fit and some don’t. For the same woman, some B cup bras fit better than her usual C cup and vice a versa. Some B cup bras fit better than other B cup bras. Check your own bra drawer! How many cup sizes do you have?

We frequently hear from patients, I’m sorta a B cup and I want to be a full C cup. Our response is simple. Tell me what a sorta B or a full C cup is! Can you go buy me a bra that is labeled sorta B or full C? If you can’t define it and you can’t buy a bra labeled it, how do you expect a surgeon to create it? And if a surgeon tells you he can create it, what should that tell you about the surgeon?

Cup size is extremely variable and inconsistent from one brand of bra to another. If cup size is inconsistent and you know it from buying your own bras, why would you want to rely on cup size to specify what you want?

You can’t define it because it isn’t a consistent measurement from manufacturer to manufacturer, as much as they’d like you to think it is. If a surgeon guarantees you a cup size, that should tell you something about the surgeon. How can you deliver something that isn’t consistently definable? What about the surgeon who doesn’t even know that bra cup size is not consistent or definable?

How do we use cup size? We have no objection to using cup size as a general guideline, provided you recognize it is only a general guide that can’t be ordered or delivered, and your surgeon doesn’t talk to you about cup size only when defining your desired outcome.

We always ask our patients the following questions: What cup size were you before you were pregnant? Largest during pregnancy? What cup size after pregnancy and nursing if you nursed? What are you now? What would you like to be? If cup size is not a consistent measurement, why do we ask? The answers to these questions give us a clearer understanding of how our patient sees her breasts. During our exam, measurements will precisely define the size of the patient’s skin envelope.

Knowing what a patient thinks she is (by asking the questions) and knowing what she really is (from our measurements) helps us better understand the patient’s perspective and her wishes. But we NEVER define the desired result by cup size alone. Many women don’t buy bras to fit their breasts... a personal revelation from Dr. Tebbetts

During my first several years in plastic surgery, I was baffled by the array of bra types and sizes that patients applied to breasts that all looked very similar and that measured similar in size on exam. One of the more enlightening milestones of my plastic surgery career was the day I realized that women don’t buy bras to fit their breasts. Most women buy bras to push their breast tissue where they think it looks best. Women don’t necessarily buy bras that fit their breasts. They buy bras that the breast will fill. What do I mean?

The width of a breast (from side-to-side, Figure 4-1) increases with increasing cup size. But I was amazed that women who had measurements indicating a D cup width were often telling me they were a B cup. What they really meant was that they were wearing a B cup bra. Then one day I asked a patient to please put her bra on as I observed. The B cup bra did not fit the fold beneath the breast. The breast was wide, more like a D cup width. The bra she had picked was much narrower than the width of the breast. When the patient put it on, she leaned forward and tucked the outside part of the wider breast inward to fill the cup of the smaller and narrower B cup bra. A light went on! Then I understood! She picked the smaller B cup bra because the amount of breast tissue that she had would fill it! When she pushed the outside portion of the breast inward into the bra, it not only filled the bra but bulged at the top of the breast and toward the middle. More cleavage! From that day on, I have been able to put bra cup size in perspective and rely more on measurements to document the size of breasts.



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