I realize I’m going a little outside my “zone of expertise” by delving into the world of women’s fashion, but there is actually a really good reason for that. A large part of my practice is breast surgery: breast reductions, breast augmentations, and breast reconstructions. Patients often focus on postoperative bra size, which is very, very difficult to predict. In fact, most women are not wearing the correct size bra preoperatively. So basing your ideal bra size on the incorrect size that you’re currently wearing is simply not helpful in terms of predicting what you’ll actually look like after surgery. Today I’m going to explain how to properly measure yourself for a bra, and how surgery changes bra size.
What size bra do you wear now? If you’ve read up on measuring for bras, you know that your band size is the measurement around your chest, just under your bust, plus 4 or 5 inches (4 if it’s an even measurement, 5 if it’s an odd measurement). As an alternative, you can measure the chest circumference just over the breast, right under your armpits. So that gives you some wiggle room right there in terms of measuring incorrectly.
Next you need to measure your bust size, which is across the fullest part of your breast. But most women’s breasts are not perfectly perky, so you actually need to do this measurement wearing a non-padded bra.
Finally, you use these two measurements to calculate your cup size. This is the difference between the bust measurement and the band measurement. An A cup is a 1″ difference, a B cup is a 2″ difference, and so on. Real Simple magazine has a great article on how to measure bra size, which I recommend reading before you measure.
Once you have the correct measurement, you need to make sure the bra actually fits. Breasts are moving targets, so to speak, so this isn’t as simple as trying on a pair of pants. I found a fabulous blog post on putting your bra on properly, which explains how to tell if your bra fits correctly.
Now that you understand how to measure yourself for a bra, and how to tell if your bra fits, you are starting to understand why estimating postoperative bra size is so impossible:
- The band size usually stays the same, but may change if any liposuction is done under the arms or over the upper back.
- The cup size change depends on the change in bust size compared to the change in band size. This isn’t a straightforward calculation based on volume. A woman with a broader chest (i.e. larger band size) will need a larger volume change to change a cup size compared to a woman with a smaller chest (i.e. smaller band size).
Bra fitting is a tricky business. But as with most clothing, it’s really more important how you look and how you feel than what size you wear.