April 13, 2020
Dr. Anu Bajaj, M.D.

Does Size Matter?

There are many numbers we use to measure our bodies. For instance, we are constantly checking numbers on the scale, our Body Mass Index, and finally our jeans and bra size. Dr. Bajaj is going to walk us through how she answers questions related to size and the procedures she offers.

As a plastic surgeon, I encounter questions related to size on a daily basis. Whether it is reducing or enlarging breasts, or tummy tucks and lipo, the question of size is the elephant in the room – each of these procedures conjures up an ‘ideal’ number in our minds.

But ultimately, we have to ask, “Does size matter?” Many of us are obsessed with numbers – I have to admit that I am. I wear a Garmin every day and track my steps, miles run, and hours of sleep. Despite this obsession, I’m going to argue that it doesn’t always matter. Rather, I believe that we should base our decisions on how we look and how we feel.

The Number on the Scale

As someone who is obsessed with the scale (remember, I said I’m obsessed with numbers), I understand how hard this can be – I weigh myself every morning. I have to remind myself that it’s about being at a healthy weight and maintaining a healthy diet rather than a number. If we are overweight, we should strive to reach a stable, and realistic weight for our bodies. The opposite is also true – we can’t let a number on the scale destroy our sense of self-worth.

The same concept also holds true for the size of our clothes. I have learned that rather than the actual size, it is about how it looks and drapes over my body – I want to feel amazing and strong. This may mean that sometimes I size up while other times I size down.

Bra Size

Most bras have two components to their size: a bandwidth and a cup size. The bandwidth is a measurement taken around your chest. This measurement will not change with a breast reduction or a breast augmentation but may change if you gain or lose weight. Most of us want the cup size to be standardized, but a bra cup size is not like a measuring cup – it is not standardized and varies based on bandwidth. The cup size in a bra is proportional to the bandwidth size; in other words, it reflects the difference between your bandwidth (underbust measurement) and your bust measurement. This means that the volume in a 32D cup is different than the volume in a 36D cup despite that both are D cups.

The other confusing part of this equation is that breasts come in different shapes – some breasts are round and some have a more tubular shape – each of these changes will affect how a bra fits.

Size and Surgical Procedures

When doing a breast reduction, as a surgeon, I remove tissue based on grams (a weight). But there is no standardized way in which to predict how much breast tissue will be removed and what the end cup size will be (although we may try to give our best guess). The weight of breast tissue removed can vary based on the density of the breasts and the amount of fat. The density of the breasts can also affect how the breasts look after a reduction. Ultimately, what this means is that if I remove 500 grams of breast tissue from two different patients, they will likely look different and may even experience different effects on their bra sizes.

What about the size of breast implants? When I ask a patient what size are her breast implants, women will frequently say a “C” cup or “D” cup. Implant sizes are measured in terms of volume or cubic centimeters (cc), and cup sizes are related to the bandwidth of your bra. An implant that has the same volume will look different on women who have different body types and breast shapes. Choosing the right size is more about proportion. I’ve put in the same size implants on different women, and they all look different.

Does Size Really Matter?

Back to my question, “Does size matter?” While some numbers may matter, others do not. We can make changes in some areas which may bother us, but we aren’t changing who we are. WE have to take those numbers in their context and remember that it is about each of us feeling confident, being healthy, and being happy. Contact our office if you have any questions about our procedures and sizing.