Survey Says: The ‘Ideal’ Breast Defies Expectations

blonde wearing white bra

When I first read about a recent study whose authors surveyed more than 1,000 men and women to determine the ideal breast shape, I thought about my years of consulting with breast augmentation patients in Naples and how perceptions change over time.

When I first began my practice the common perception was that women (and men) preferred breasts that appeared very full at the top — breasts that appeared to defy gravity. That was the perception outside the office, anyway, but it’s not necessarily what I heard from patients during their consultations. Instead, once they thought about their goals a little more, many women said they wanted breasts that looked natural, but bigger.

Judging from the results of the recent survey I read, which appeared in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, that’s also what most people prefer these days. A natural breast shape gently slopes, with most of the volume in the lower third of the breast. The study found that the vast majority of respondents who viewed 4 different breast shapes overwhelmingly preferred a breast with an upper-to-lower pole ratio of 45:55, with a nipple that pointed upward slightly. Ninety percent of the men surveyed preferred this ratio, compared to 82% of the women who were asked.

For many women who are considering breast augmentation, the study’s results probably confirm what they knew intuitively. Although not every patient can get results that match the survey’s ideal ratio, natural-looking results are possible when surgery is performed by an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon. The survey data may also help patients deciding on what implants to get. For example, it may lead more women to choose implants that are anatomically shaped, rather than round, to enhance the fullness of the lower breast.

A final thought about the study’s results and how it relates to women who are thinking about getting breast implants: If their “ideal” breast shape differs from the 45:55 ratio, that’s OK. Some of my patients simply prefer a fuller upper breast. I counsel the women I see during their consultations that what they think is what matters most.

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