The Surgeon Minute

How to Find the Best Implant for Your Body Type

How to Find the Best Implant for Your Body Type

The decision to have breast augmentation is a big first step. You’ve made the decision, but now an even bigger decision needs to be made: What size implants should I get?

The answer to the question  is not always an easy one; what your friend got may not be at all what you need, even if your body’s are similar. Modern breast augmentation involves measurements and highly accurate 3D imaging to not only size a patient correctly, but allow them to see what the result will look like on their unique frame.

By Patricia A. McGuire, MD
and Adam McMillon
The Plastic Surgery Channel

The Anatomic Approach

Dr. Patricia McGuire, a board certified plastic surgeon from St. Louis, embraces the quantitative approach to sizing implants. “After safety, the most common question and concerns I hear from my patients who are considering breast augmentation is, ‘What volume implants should I have? And, what size will my breasts be after the procedure?'” says McGuire.

“I prefer to use a more anatomic approach. Using measurements of the patient, there are 4 concepts I consider.”


The width of the chest is probably the most important measurement. An implant that is appropriate for the patient’s breast width, looks like it belongs there. Implants that are too wide require structures of the chest to be divided that should not be divided. Implants that are too narrow make the chest look empty.


The height of the implant should give the patient fullness, but keep a natural appearance.

Tissue type:

Patients tissues vary depending on genetics, previous pregnancy, breast feeding, and weight gain or loss.

What does the patient want?

It is very important to understand a patient’s goals in breast augmentation. Does she want to restore the volume she lost after pregnancy? Does she want a more natural look, or would she like more fullness in the upper portion of the breast. Is her anatomy compatible  with the size and shape that she wants?

Putting it all together in 3D

Once questions have been answered and measurements complete, McGuire can provide a short list of implants that would be great for that particular patient. Even though the patient watches and is part of the measuring experience, it’s difficult to grasp the final product. Enter 3D imaging.

“Sometimes the measurements are not always easy to communicate,” admits McGuire. “I like to use three dimensional imaging. In our office we have the Vectra system where we can take 3D photographs of the patient, put that together with the patient’s anatomy and the known measurements of the implant, and we can actually give that patient a visual idea of what she’s going to look like.”


The precise nature of this anatomic approach to implants works not only to place the best device possible, but to allay anxiety. Seeing what you will look like from the Vectra imaging software prepares patients for surgery and for great results. “Patients come in much more comfortable into surgery knowing what size implant they’ll be receiving,” says McGuire. “We’ve seen a much higher patient satisfaction after surgery knowing that we chose the implant that was best for her.”

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