Many women express their goals for breast surgery in terms of bra size, yet the traditional method of bra sizing is confusing and inaccurate, with up to 80 percent of women said to be wearing the wrong size bra. In response to this problem, a new system of bra measurement was developed. It is a modified version of a previously reported method of bra sizing that determines cup size by direct breast measurement1 while now allowing for the fact that cup size varies with band size (e.g., the C cup of a size 36 bra is larger than the C cup of a size 34 bra).
With this system, brassiere band size is still determined by the industry standard of “underbust chest circumference plus 5,”2–4 but cup size is determined by the relationship of breast width to underbust circumference. Breast width is measured with a tape from the breast mound’s origin on the lateral chest wall to its termination in the parasternal area. Small or firm breasts can be measured with a woman upright or supine, and large or ptotic breasts are measured with the subject supine.
Breast width and chest wall measurements were studied in relationship to bra fit in more than 1000 women undergoing breast surgery over a period of 5 years, until a consistent relationship between the two was established. The correlation of breast width and underbust circumference to bra size is shown in Table 1. The relationships are most easily understood by examining the “prime” sizes (asterisks in Table 1). For any given underbust circumference, every 1 inch increase or decrease in breast width changes the cup by one size. For example, a woman with a 33-inch underbust and a breast width of 8.5 inches would fit a 38B bra, but if her breast width were 9.5 inches, she would fit a 38C bra.
Conversely, for any given breast width, the cup goes up or down by one size with every alternate step in band size. For example, a woman with a 9-inch breast width and a 31-inch underbust circumference would wear a 36C bra, but if her underbust circumference were 35 inches, she would wear a 40B bra.
The information inTable 1 was used clinically to help meet patients’ breast surgery goals. For example, if a woman with an underbust circumference of 29 inches (34 band size) wished to be a C cup after augmentation or reduction, an attempt was made to enlarge or reduce her breasts to a width of 8.5 inches. Figure 1 demonstrates the difference between the traditional and new methods of bra measurement in a representative patient.
Breast measurements are helpful in breast augmentation and reduction and in quantifying the difference in size in women with asymmetrical breasts, with each 1-inch increment corresponding to a cup size. Experience has shown that almost every woman will fit the size bra determined to be right for her by this new system, even if she chooses to wear a bra of a different size for personal reasons.
Edward A. Pechter, M.D.
Department of Plastic Surgery
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, Calif.
1. Pechter, E. A new method for determining bra size and predicting postaugmentation breast size. Plast. Reconstr. Surg.
102: 1259, 1998.
2. The Lingerie Store USA. Bra Fitting.
Available at http://www.thelingeriestoreusa.com/brafiad.html
. Accessed May 14, 2006.
3. Just My Size. Sizing for Bras and All-in-Ones.
Available at http://www.jms.com/html/brasize.html
. Accessed May 14, 2006.
4. Big Girls’ Bras. Fitting Bras.
Available at http://www.biggerbras.com/how-to-fit-a-bra.shtml
. Accessed May 14, 2006.
Viewpoints, pertaining to issues of general interest, are welcome, even if they are not related to items previously published. Viewpoints may present unique techniques, brief technology updates, technical notes, and so on. Viewpoints will be published on a space-available basis because they are typically less timesensitive than Letters and other types of articles. Please note the following criteria:
Authors will be listed in the order in which they appear in the submission. Viewpoints should be submitted electronically via PRS' enkwell, at www.editorialmanager.com/prs/. We strongly encourage authors to submit figures in color.
We reserve the right to edit Viewpoints to meet requirements of space and format. Any financial interests relevant to the content must be disclosed. Submission of a Viewpoint constitutes permission for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and its licensees and assignees to publish it in the Journal and in any other form or medium.
The views, opinions, and conclusions expressed in the Viewpoints represent the personal opinions of the individual writers and not those of the publisher, the Editorial Board, or the sponsors of the Journal. Any stated views, opinions, and conclusions do not reflect the policy of any of the sponsoring organizations or of the institutions with which the writer is affiliated, and the publisher, the Editorial Board, and the sponsoring organizations assume no responsibility for the content of such correspondence.