David B. Reath, MD
Knoxville, TN (865) 450-9253
HKB Knoxville Staff

Breast Implants: How To Know When You’re Going Too Big

Woman determining the size breast implant that will fit her body best with Dr. Reath

A recent phenomenon that I have noticed is that women are choosing larger and larger breast implants when having breast augmentation. The average implant size has gradually increased over the years that I have been performing breast augmentation for Knoxville and Cookeville, TN, women. I am left with two questions: is there an upper limit in sight? And how big is too big?

About 20 years ago, the typical implant volume was less than 300 cc. It was quite rare to go far above that, or even into the 400s. Today, I rarely use an implant smaller than 300 ccs, and I commonly use implants in the 400s. Additionally, I am not infrequently using implants that are 500 ccs or even slightly more. So what is driving the escalation in breast implant size, and how much is too much?

Why Women Are Choosing Larger Breast Implants

I do not think there is one single thing that is causing women to want larger breast implants. Several factors are contributing to the trend.

Advice From Friends

Women frequently tell me that they have been advised by their friends who have had breast enlargement to go a little bigger so that they will not be disappointed. Many women tell me that they feel after having had the surgery that they would go bigger if they were to do it over – even though some of these women are now wearing a D cup after surgery.

Now, let me point out that these women are not kooks or unreasonable people. There can be a change in the desired breast size after surgery. Some women who, before surgery, are concerned about going too big, find that once they have the operation, they get quite comfortable with their new size and would like to go bigger. So expectations and desires can change, and some women may go larger initially in anticipation of this.

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Changes in Fashion

Fashion is influencing the change. It is more common to find models who are larger in the chest— particularly swimsuit models. It just seems that bigger breasts are “in.” Therefore, women want larger implants.

Increasing Empowerment

Probably the most important factor is that women have much more say in the size of breast implants chosen than they did previously. Going back to 20 years ago, I would talk with a woman about her desires and then select the implant size for her.

Now every woman who comes in works with sizers. They put on a bra with different sized implants, put a t-shirt on over it, and look at themselves in the mirror. I will advise on size, but the patient is the one who is calling the shots – for the most part. So the increasing size of implants over the years reflects women are getting what they want. And this is great as long as we don’t go unreasonably large.

How do I know if my breast implants are too big?

Patients often ask this question. I once heard a prominent plastic surgeon say that he would never use implants over 350 ccs. To me, this is arbitrary and ridiculous. It could be too large for a very petite woman and not nearly large enough for a very tall woman with a broad chest.

Keep in mind that there is no perfect size, a topic I discussed in this blog post. I frequently tell patients that if everyone were between a very full B and moderate D cup, I would be out on the street corner with a sign that says, “Will Operate for Food.”

Physical Constraints

What women will find if they have overdone it with implant size is that their breasts can get in the way of physical activities, can cause shoulder and neck pain, and may make it hard to find clothes that fit. Also, higher weight in the breast can lead to sagging of the breast due to the weight of the implants.


There is another, more aesthetic concern, at least for me. A full breast is very attractive. This probably represents a full C or D cup. Going larger than this in many women will not look as beautiful because their body is now out of proportion with the breasts not fitting the body. And sometimes, these larger implants make women look broader in the chest, not necessarily larger in the breast. This can make women look heavier— not exactly the look most patients are trying to achieve!

So, again, how do you know if you are going too big? I think this depends upon your body size and type, what your physical activities are, and perhaps your profession. But maybe the key here is how to maintain proper proportions to your body. And for this, I cannot give specific sizes.

How do I choose my breast implant size?

As you try on sizers, don’t just think about how you will look in a bathing suit or halter top, but think about your physical activities as well as the kind of clothes that you will wear every day. Keep these pointers in mind as you consider potential implant sizes:

  • If you are short or have a narrower chest, you will be better off in the lower range of implant sizes. If you are tall or have a very broad chest, larger implants may look better. In this regard, it is rare to need implants larger than 450 t0 500 ccs. But in someone who is 6 feet tall (and, yes, I have patients like this), 500 ccs may look somewhat modest.
  • If you are very active in sports, especially higher impact sports like running or kickboxing, you will want to not go over the top in size, or your breasts may get in the way. While some great sports bras can help, it is tough to find marathoners who wear a DD bra.

This video offers additional helpful tips for choosing the right implant size for your goals:

My goal in all of this is to give women what they want, not just today but throughout their lifetime. If that means a modest increase in breast size, great. If it means going very large, that can be good too. But I want to try to avoid creating a disproportionate figure or creating a problem later in life where the weight of the implants and the size of the chest are too much. The other issue is that I want to make the breasts look good. This can be difficult if the implants are either too big or too small for the size and shape of both the natural breasts and the chest itself.

Yes, You Can Go Too Big

The bottom line here is that you can go too big. One of my blog readers coined the term “booby greed.” But there is no specific number of cc for everyone. Everyone is different, and everyone wants something different. We will do our best to guide you to something that looks great both today and tomorrow, as well as something that will fit your body and your lifestyle.

To see examples of the results you can expect, take a look at my patients’ before-and pictures showing their silicone and saline implant results. If you’re interested in starting your breast augmentation journey with an experienced plastic surgeon in Knoxville, TN, please contact us online or call (865) 450-9253.

All the best,
Dr. David B. Reath

David B.Reath, MD

Note: This blog post has been updated.

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35 Responses to Breast Implants: How To Know When You’re Going Too Big

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    To know what size will give you the result you want, I would need to see you and examine you. We work with sizers in the office to help decide on the implant size to give you the result you would like.
    All the best,

  • Latisha says:

    I already have implants and feel like going bigger. I’m a DD bra size and wondering if there’s and risk going to a F size. I’m doing it for my boyfriends birthday next week. I just to know if there’s any risk I should worry about

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Thanks for your comment. Without seeing you I cannot specifically comment on your concerns. However, there does not seem to be much of an up side to going larger than a DD. The increase in the weight of your breasts and implants can cause issues with your neck and back not to mention significant stretching of the skin and soft tissues of your breasts. Also, you will probably have a hard time finding clothes that will fit.
    So I would think very carefully about going larger than you are now and discuss this with a board certified plastic surgeon.
    All the best,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Lisa says:

    I am looking at having a breast augmentation–my first (and hopefully my last) time. I am 5’4″ and weigh 125 pounds. My measurement at the bra strap/rib cage under breasts is only 30″. I am looking at a “true B” verses a “small C”, but my doctor has mentioned a range between 360 and 400 cc. Now reading a few articles, I am thinking about telling him to not maximize this range since my frame is small. I want a more natural slope and not the dramatic (nearly explode) look that some women seem to like. Also, I am finally treating myself to this surgery at the age of 53! I would appreciate your thoughts!

  • Dr. Reath says:

    Thanks for your comments. Without seeing you I cannot really give you an opinion on what size to go with. This is best done before surgery by working with your surgeon and perhaps working the sizers. What you are looking at I think would at least give you a full C cup — but this all depends upon where you by your bras and how you like them to fit.
    The only other thing that I would say is that you result will probably look and feel more natural with silicone implants rather than saline.
    All the best,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Sarah says:

    Hi there. I am 5’4 and about 140lbs. I have lost about 40lbs in the last six months and have gone from a small d cup to a b. I am uncomfortable with this size and would like to be a DD. Is this safe? I also already have some loose skin on my breasts because of losing weight.

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Thanks for your comment. Without seeing you I cannot really tell you what may or may not be a good and safe option for you. However, I would think that increasing to a D or DD would be quite reasonable. One thing to keep in mind is that if you have significant skin looseness, you may need a breast lift as as well.
    All the best,
    David B.

  • jinny says:

    I don’t know what to do .My implants were 650 ,they were big but I gained some weight and now they are a 32jj .I am miserable they weight it crazy on my back and shoulders.How could I ever get this fixed

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Thanks for your email. Without seeing you I cannot tell you specifically what can be done. However, the options range from removing the implants, or replacing them with smaller implants. But a breast lift may be needed. Very few people need or want implants as large as yours are.
    All the best,
    David B.

  • Lauren says:

    I am two weeks away from breast augmentation procedure. This has been a dream of mine for years. The surgeon is phenomenal, however due to legalities I feel he is very weary about stating the size of the patient. Therefore, I am left with, my question?! I am 5″6 140lbs I carry my weight well, yet I do fluctuate. My waiste is very small but my arms are a bit bigger than what I like so I don’t want to look top heavy with going with a bigger cup size. I was suggested either a 375 moderate profile or a 425 high profile. I want to be a full C and I know not to get caught up on cup size but I do not want to go into a D. Especially because of my career and I am very much so into fitness can you please guide me?

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Thanks for your comment. Without seeing you I cannot really guide you in your choice of implant size. And, whether you will fit into a C or D cup will depend on many factors in addition to breast size ( where you buy your bras, how you like them to fit, chest size, bra style, etc.), and frequently there is no a huge difference in a C or D cup. It sounds like your implant size choice is reasonable, but I would discuss your concerns with your plastic surgeon.
    All the best,
    David B. Reath MD

  • Madeline says:


    I would like an initial opinion if I may.

    I have been told I have too much breast tissue to have implants. I am about a D cup. I wish to have implants to be a size bigger. One patient adviser told me it wasn’t possible as the implants would need to be big and I may look out of proportion. Is it true…can you have too much tissue to be suitable for surgery?? I’m not especially big in the first place and wonder if I don’t have a choice in the same way someone a little smaller has..?

    Thank you in advance. Look forward to a response.

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear Madeline,
    Thank you for your comments and questions. However, it is impossible for me to comment on what would or would not be good or possible for you without seeing you and examining you. If you are unhappy with the opinion you have been given, I would recommend that you get a consultation from another board certified plastic surgeon.
    All the best,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Lisa says:

    Hi Doctor Reath,

    I am a healthy, very toned 44 year old. I am 5’6 1/2 , thin upper body, toned stomach and small breasts (small B cup). I love to run as a form of daily exercise and be active. I am not interested in running a marathon. I am trying to determine the size I should go that would still allow me to run and be active. Ideally, I would like to be a D cup. What is your opinion silicone vs saline? Thank you for your time

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Thanks for your comment and questions. Without seeing you I cannot recommend a specific size. However, in almost all cases, silicone gives better results than saline.
    All the best,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Ariel says:

    Hi I’m a flat chested woman that’s no even an A cup and I’m only 5’2 in a half,116lbs and I don’t have a broad chest, and I’m very petite. So I was wondering if there are implants for a full A cups ? Ive been looking online too see what they look like and I couldn’t find any so I kind of figured they aren’t in existence.

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear Ariel,
    Thanks for your comment and question. Implants come in a variety of sizes beginning at around 100 cc. This is fairly small and I really doubt you would want anything smaller than this. So, there probably is a size that would give you what you want.
    I hope this is of help.
    All the best,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Pingback: Breast Implants : When To Revise Your Size | Dr. David B. Reath, MD

  • Elaine says:

    Thanks so much for your article! I am 1 week post-op from breast augmentation with silicone implants and I LOVE them! I’m 5-10 155 lbs and the implants I chose with my surgeon were 420 and 470 (to even out my smaller breast) high-profile silicone. After one week, I do think we could have gone bigger, BUT I think your article is spot on when it comes to how I look in clothes and finding clothes that fit. Mostly, I’m just so happy I did this. I finally look the way I feel! And am much more confident. My surgeon was so good and I’m so happy I went with silicone. They look and feel natural. Why would you do this if its not going to look and feel natural?!? Again, thank you for your article! And, as my surgeon says “Its a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it”!

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear Elaine,
    Thanks for your comment. I am glad you are having a good experience. Sounds like you have a good plastic surgeon!
    All the best,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • eira says:

    I’m 5’2- 140 lbs and I’m a 34B. I will be getting my breast done, but I’m still not too sure what size? What would you recommend?

  • Char says:

    Hi, I am about 5’9″, but I look taller, I am told. I am currently around a DD, naturally, but would like to be at least an H. My chest is wide, but at present, the volume, especially at the top, is less than desirable. What do you recommend?

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear Char,
    Thank you for your email. Without seeing you I cannot really recommend any treatment. However, I would never recommend going up to an H cup. The problems that can arise from this size are just not worth it. There may be something else such as a breast lift which might be of help, but I would need to see you to know.
    Sincerely yours,

    David B. Reath, MD

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear Eira,
    Without seeing you it is hard to know what size to recommend. This is usually best done within the context of a consultation, where we can work with sizers to give you an idea of how a different sizes will look with your torso.
    Sincerely yours,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Carina says:

    Hi … I just got My boobs done like a week and 1 day ago and already feel like there to big for my body frame … Keep in mine am 5″3. And weight about 116 and the put me 450cc should I worry now or just waited out a little longer …:/

    • Dr. Reath says:

      Dear Corina,
      Thanks for your comment. It does sound like you have gone fairly large in size with your implants given your height and weight. However, there is not much to be gained by doing something about it right away. I would let the healing process progress and see how you feel about your size as you get a little farther along. If, three to six months, you do feel too big, I would discuss this with your surgeon.
      All the best,
      David B. Reath, MD

  • Myls says:

    I recently went and had my first consultation. I am 5’5, 120lbs. The doctor is recommending 465 saline high profile. I do not want huge breast, I want to be a full C-cup and I want them to look natural.

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear Myls,
    Thank you for your email. Without seeing you I cannot give you any recommendations regarding your choice of implant size. However, it seems that you are going with a large implant for your height and weight.
    Sincerely yours,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Kay H says:

    I am 20 years old, 5’7″, 120lb, and wear a natural C cup. I am happy with my size and how my breasts look in a pushup bra, However without it they are fuller at the bottom (nopple &below) than the top, which makes me feel saggy even though I am still relatively perky.. I am interested in breast augmentation not purely for size but for fullness so I can wear certain clothes without bras sometimes and feel confident. What do you recommend?

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear Kay,
    Thanks for your email. Without seeing you I cannot really recommend what you should do. Breast augmentation will increase your size. However, you will always look like you have more superior breast fullness when you are wearing a bra compared to when you are not. This is very normal.
    But I would be happy to see you in consultation and give you a very realistic idea about what you can expect from breast augmentation.
    All the best,
    David B.

  • Carol D. says:

    I am an older woman. I had a breast lift with implants for upper fullness. I am 4’8″ and 90 lbs. I was originally a 32 D but never wanted to be larger, if anything a 32 C full
    cup. Now I’m a full DD. I am having them fixed but I don’t know how to pick right cc amount for implant. I have 270 cc implants now. I look enormous for my height and weight. I was just tired of them hanging. Any helpful suggestions. I want to be a full C cup like I was in my younger perky days.

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear Carol,
    Thanks for your email. Without seeing you, I can not really comment on the proper implant size for you. However, there is the possibility that you only need a breast lift and don’t need additional volume with an implant. In which case you could have the lift and have the implants removed. If you were using implants, you probably only need 120 to 150 cc.
    If your current implants are saline, they can be deflated ahead of time in the office and you could then see how much volume you have without implants, and work with sizers to see if you needed an implant at all.
    Sincerely yours,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Kate says:

    I am 172cm and 55kg.
    I have my surgery in 2 weeks. My doctor recommended me 375cc moderate plus silicone implant. I am a small A and and want to be a D or at least a full C ! I am worried and think that 375cc would be small on me..what do you think and recommend ? Please do not hesitate to answer me! thank you so much

    • Dr. Reath says:

      Hi Kate,
      Thanks for your question. Without seeing you I cannot make a recommendation one way or the other. If you’re concerned, you should schedule another appointment with your plastic surgeon to discuss your goals and work with sizers before your surgery. All the best, David B.

  • Katie says:

    Hi to the lady runner on here. I was very unhappy running with d size boobs. Unless you like the feel of being jiggling and being a running porno. B size is a the best for running. comfy!!!!

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