Without a doubt, the most important question in the mind of women anticipating breast enlargement is what they will look like with a certain size implant. And, therefore, the choice of implant size is critical to being happy with the final result of your surgery. I mean, let’s face it: that’s what it’s all about. So how can you choose the right breast implant size for you? Glad you asked.
How Accurate Is Computer Imaging for Breast Implant Sizing?
Computer-generated imaging has been a part of plastic surgery planning for a long time. It seems to work best with imaging faces and most specifically noses. Recent applications (as in VECTRA) have been introduced to generate images of the breasts in women wanting breast augmentation. You may have read about this imaging system and there are some plastic surgeons who are using this technology. We actually evaluated this at our national meeting a year ago, but decided that it just wasn’t doing it for us. Let me tell you why:
Basically, a photo of the patient is taken and loaded into the system, and images are generated to show what the chest (as in from the neck to the upper abdomen) will look like with different-sized breast implants. However, the image is not a photo of you, but something between a diagram and an avatar. This is quite different from the imaging of the nose, where the actual photograph of the nose is changed.
You Are Not An Avatar
My feeling is that this type of imaging is not all that helpful in trying to figure out what size implant should be used. The reason for this is that it is very hard to translate the diagram/avatar to what you will really look like, and feel like. It’s just not very realistic and bordering on creepy-looking. Seeing yourself in our full-length mirror, moving around, and trying on different tops is actually much more helpful. So how can you do this? Again, glad you asked. (You did, didn’t you?)
In a word, breast implant sizers. (Ok, 3 words)
Why Sizers Are Superior
While decidedly low tech, we have been using sizers to help women find the best size breast implants for years. These are inserts of different sizes that can be placed in your bra to give you an idea of what your breasts will look like with different sizes of breast implants. The good thing about this is you can see what you will look like, not a diagram of what you will look like. You can try on different styles of tops (and many women will bring in several tops when working with sizers).
Also, you can see what your whole body looks like, not just your chest. Because how the chest relates to the waist, hips, and overall body shape is really important. And, perhaps most importantly, you will get an idea of what it feels like when it comes to the weight of different implants.
It is interesting for me to watch women when they are working with sizers. This is not a cerebral or analytical exercise. They are active and moving. They are feeling how this size breast feels to them and fits into clothing. They want to look down at the breasts and see what their cleavage might look like. So it becomes more real to them, and more about them.
Just Because It’s New, Doesn’t Mean It’s Better
There is always an optical illusion when you are translating a moving, breathing three-dimensional person into a two-dimensional image. Slight asymmetries which may not be important to the overall look can become exaggerated. This might cause you to become overly concerned with a small and “normal” difference which is barely perceptible in the true, living you. And attempts to correct such differences may actually end up with a less real or normal look. (To see examples of what different implant sizes look like on real women, take a look at our breast augmentation before-and-after photo gallery.
Bottom line here is that looking at yourself with sizers is more realistic than looking at a computer-generated image. The icing on the cake is our “sizer sisters”. They help women pick out breast implant sizes every day and will not steer you wrong. They even produced this helpful, fun video of what to consider when you are picking out your breast implant size that you may not have thought of.
Call me out of touch with the latest and greatest in computer imaging, but sizers work great for my patients and for my work with them. But, I could always be biased as I was never good at computer games…. Does anyone remember Pong? J.K.
If you would like to have a conversation about your specific breast implant sizing, please get in touch by requesting a consultation or calling our Knoxville, TN, office at (865) 450-9253.
All the best,
David B. Reath, MD
PS: You can find more information about picking out your breast implant size, along with 40-pages of everything you’ll want to know about breast augmentation in our award-winning eBook A Girlfriend’s Guide to Breast Augmentation. It’s a free download.