Implant Sizing Discussion #1: How many ccs make a “C” cup? (Part I)

Deciding on a proper breast implant size is one of the more challenging aspects of breast augmentation for many patients and surgeons in the Phoenix area. Patients are often surprised to find out that the relationship between implant size and final breast appearance can be quite complex.

The same implant volume (cc) won’t look the same on every patient.

The first thing patients need to understand is that the term cc (cubic centimeter) simply refers to volume. To convert this from the metric system into ounces, 1 ounce equals approximately 30 cc. In other words, a 300 cc implant has a total volume of 300 cubic centimeters or approximately 10 ounces.

How this volume impacts a given patient depends on many factors. For example, when patients ask how many ccs make a given cup size, I answer their question with another question: “How far can you drive on a gallon of gas?” They usually pause and say: “It depends on which car I’m driving.” Clearly one can drive a lot farther on one gallon of gas in a Prius than in a Hummer. Likewise, a 300 cc implant will look a lot bigger on someone who is 5’1″ and 100 pounds than it will look in someone who is 5’10” and 175 pounds.

How much natural breast tissue do you have?

Another factor that determines the final result is your existing breast tissue. Some patients start off with a lot more breast tissue than others. The final breast volume is made up of both the natural breast volume and the implant volume. In other words, Preexisting Breast Volume + Implant Volume = Final Breast Volume, so the less natural breast tissue you have, the more implant you will need to reach a given volume.

How stretchy are your tissues and skin?

Another consideration is the elasticity of the tissues or how much the skin stretches. Patients with very tight, thick tissues will tend to compress the implant more, making it look smaller. Patients with looser tissues, such as those who have breastfed or lost a significant amount of weight, will stretch more, allowing the implant to look larger.

Other considerations

There are certainly many other considerations that affect final breast appearance and factor into deciding on breast implant size, such as:

  • Breast width
  • Ribcage shape
  • Asymmetry

These variations are why two patients who have a similar final appearance may have very different sized implants (as you can see in our breast augmentation patient photos). This is also why I feel it is easier for a patient to choose a desired “look” than to choose an implant size. It’s hard for an experienced surgeon to know exactly how a particular implant will look in a given patient, so imagine how difficult it would be for patients to select their own size! I’ll explain more about how I make my implant choices in part 2 of this discussion.

If you’re ready to learn what breast implant options would be best for you, request a consultation to meet with me 1-on-1.


Published: 8/30/2011, Updated: 9/30/2020

2 Responses to Implant Sizing Discussion #1: How many ccs make a “C” cup? (Part I)

  • Michelle Perella says:

    I am a bilateral mastectomy patient five years later I decided to get implants I had no breast tissue left so on the left side the last tissue transfer failed, skin is thin. .on right side lat tissue transfer succeeded. I have expandersbin the PS put in 275cc on left side, 250 cc on right side. I told my PS I wanted to be a C cup. From your experience about what size cup will I end up with when we do the exchange to silicone? I feel I should have more fluid expandsiin done to obtain the size I want. Suggestions, guidance please

    • Dr. Robert Cohen says:

      The relationship of implant size to cup size varies depending on patient size, preexisting breast tissue, which brand bra is used, etc, so I am really unable to accurately answer your question. Additionally, you are discussing a true breast reconstruction (as opposed to aesthetic surgery), and I haven’t performed breast reconstruction for breast cancer in many years. I would recommend discussing your questions with your reconstructive surgeon to get an accurate answer with regards to size. In-bra sizing and 3D imaging are potential ways you can communicate your size goals better with your surgeon to make sure you are happy with the results. Additionally, your size choice may be limited by what is safe for your tissues, and your reconstructive surgeon will know most accurately what your tissues can handle. I wish you the best luck with your remaining reconstructive surgery!

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