Cup sizes and CCs – SF Bay Breast Augmentation

Posted November 19, 2017 in Breast Augmentation, Home

How many ccs in a c-cup? This is a question I hear every day. The question is simple; however, the answer is complicated. I will try to explain in today’s San Francisco Plastic Surgery Blog post.

In 1937, Warner introduced its Alphabet Bra with four cup sizes (A, B, C and D)

In 1937, Warner introduced its Alphabet Bra with four cup sizes (A, B, C and D)

Math is Beautiful

Volume of a hemisphere

Please explain how this equation answers the question,”How many ccs are there in a C-cup?”

If you are still reading this, I will explain. The equation above is the approximate volume of a breast, given its radius (r). The volume of the breast is directly related to its radius cubed. In other words, if you double the radius of the breast, this will increase the volume eight-fold.

The upside to using an equation is that equations are 100% objective. Measuring the base width of the breast gives us the radius, and via the equation the volume. The beauty of mathematics is that there is a defined answer. The downside is that even this simplified equation is hard to relate to for most people. Additionally, the actual volume will be less than calculated, because breasts are not perfect hemispheres. At least they should not be, but this segues nicely in the subjective side of the C-cup.

Objective vs. Subjective

At the latest American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeon (ASAPS) meeting, a company was offering a high-tech laser scanner that can be used to measure the exact contours of a patient’s body. If plastic surgery were 100% objective, this would be great; however, even though we can measure and calculate volumes with great precision, what exactly a C-cup represents is subjective. It depends on each patients experience, body shape and even the brand of the bra worn.

Bras were much pointier in the past.

Bras were much pointier in the past.

It is estimated that 75-80% of women wear the “wrong” bra size. My grandmother was a corsetiere. She sold lingerie at I. Magnin’s in Walnut Creek until the day it closed. She fitted women for bras, and even for prosthetics after a mastectomy. She had a loyal following, because she could find the right size for each customer and each manufacturer, and she confirmed that most women wear the wrong bra size. On the other hand, we wear what is comfortable.

Why Women Wear the Wrong Size Bra

Bra researchers have studied what size bras women wear and have documented through the years that most women do not wear the size bra for which they measure. Moreover, two trends are consistent. Women with smaller breast tend to wear bras which are too large, and women with larger breast tend to wear bras which are too small. Oprah Winfrey had an entire show dedicated to this, so it must be true. I think it’s an extension of the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the hill.” In this case, the hill is a C-cup.

Inflatable cup sizes.

Inflatable cup sizes.

To add to the confusion, boutiques that tailor their products to younger/thinner women tend to inflate the cup size for a given volume. The best example is Victoria’s Secret. It is no secret that if you wear a C-cup in VS, you likely wear a B-cup in other mainstream bra manufacturers like Warner’s and Bali. This brand specific sizing, and often style specific sizing, leads to further confusion over what a C-cup really represents. There is no industry standard for bra sizing, so if you wear a 34C from company A, a 34C from company B may not fit.

Cup Volumes And Band Size

Cup volumes are also dependent in band size. The measurement under the breasts, the size of the chest without including the breasts, determines the band size. A larger chest means a larger band size. In the US, the measurement is made in inches, and then 4 or 5 is added to this to get to an even number. Other countries simply use the closest even number, so it is important to know the method of sizing.

Measurements are made around and below the bust for bra fittings.

Measurements are made around and below the bust for bra fittings.

When measuring around the breasts, each increase of one inch equals and increase in one cup size. Again, there are variations, some countries use 2 cm and others may use 3 cm. Since is takes more volume to increase an inch around a larger chest, cup volumes increase, for a given letter size, as the band size increases. For example, the cup volume of a 34C is 25% larger than that for a 32C and 23% smaller than that for a 36C.

So How Many CCs Are There In A C-Cup?

Bra sizing can be frustrating and confusing, and this is why it is hard to promise a certain cup size after Breast Augmentation. As it was so eloquently put by a presenter at the ASAPS annual meeting, “If a patient wants a guarantee for a specific cup size, I tell her I can, if I get to buy the bra.”

The simple answer: Objectively: When we do the math using the most commonly used US system of bra measurement, a 34C cup is 480ccs.

The real answer: Subjectively: It depends. It depends on many factors including:

  • Who’s C-cup you wear. A pretty, cleavage enhancing, Victoria’s Secret bra may only hold half the volume calculated above. Some of the cup size is filled with padding, and the wire length may be reduced to force the breasts together.
  • How you like your bra to fit. You can wear a cup size larger if you are smaller, or wear a tighter band size to support larger breasts. Research shows most women do.
  • Skin tightness. Tighter, higher breasts fit into a bra differently than deflated, lower breasts. Larger natural breasts do not fill the upper portion of the cup without support, while larger implants do.

How To Choose The Best CCs For Your Breast Augmentation?

This is a question that is asked every five minutes on the Internet, if not more frequently. The best way is to:

  • Seek guidance from a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who is experienced and fully trained in Breast Augmentation.
  • Be honest with yourself, your goals and your surgeon.
  • Do your homework. Buy a bra that is the size you want, the band number should be the same, and stuff it. Ziplock bags filled with (uncooked) rice is a simple way to vary the size and try on different looks. Be sure to use different clothes too, to see how your look changes. This short post is as true today as the day it was published: How to Choose the Correct Breast Implants: Size.

Also remember, there is no perfect answer. Your ideal size may change from day-to-day, and through the years. So the goal should be to find your comfort zone and aim for the center of it. Additionally, breasts change. They can change with normal monthly cycles. Breast size and shape morph as we age, have children and gain/lose weight.