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    Perfect fit

    The unique needs of their breast augmentation patients spur two surgeons to the drawing board

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    The bra business seemed the perfect fit for two plastic surgeons. One focused on developing a bra designed for the augmented breast. The other zeroed in on a better sizing system for natural and augmented breasts.

    TOWARD A NEW MEASURING METRIC Edward Pechter, M.D., assistant clinical professor of plastic surgery at UCLA, says that the traditional way to take measurements for fitting brassieres is not only confusing but inaccurate. So Dr. Pechter, who practices in Valencia, Calif., devised his own system. Today, he markets the system as a sliding chart for bra sizing to physicians' offices and consumers.

    "I came to the conclusion that [the inaccurate sizing system] was the reason why so many sources say that 80 percent of women wear the wrong size bra," Dr. Pechter tells Cosmetic Surgery Times. "Beginning in the late '90s, I tried to come up with my own measuring system, paying attention to women's sizes before, during and after breast augmentation. I recorded my findings and the measurements until I came up with a bra sizing system that works better than the traditional one." In the traditional way of measuring for a bra, one subtracts band size from bust circumference and the difference is one cup size for every inch, according to the plastic surgeon.

    "It does not make sense to determine cup size by the relationship of bust circumference to under-bust circumference. One has nothing to do with the other," Dr. Pechter explains. "With my system, if you want to determine cup size, you measure the breast." He published his original system in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 1998 but has since refined it. A paper on the new system has been accepted by the journal for publication.

    The original system specified that breast circumference was equal to a particular cup size, regardless of band size. When designing the newer measuring system, he took into consideration that cup size varies with band size. In other words, the C cup of a 36 band size bra is a little bigger than a C cup of a 34 band size bra, and so on. Other sizes include the following: a 7-inch breast circumference is an A cup, 8 inches is a B cup, 9 inches is a C and 10 is a D; but if you go down one band size, to a 34, then an A cup is 6.5 inches, a B cup is 7.5 inches, and so on. "Now I would say that instead of a system where 80 percent of women wear the wrong size, I can predict a woman's bra size at least 90 percent of the time correctly," Dr. Pechter says.

    LEARNING THE LINGO The accuracy of the system, though it helps both augmented and natural breasted women, comes in handy for plastic surgeons, according to Dr. Pechter."I think if you are going to be doing breast surgery —particularly breast augmentation — you need to know how to measure a woman’s bra size because most women speak in terms of bra size," Dr. Pechter says. "When a woman comes to my office, she might say I want to be a full C cup in a 34-inch bra. But if she has no idea how to measure for a bra, it is that much more difficult to achieve her goal." When he does breast augmentation, Dr. Pechter has the patient's band size and uses a sizing implant during surgery to increase her breast width to the cup size that she wants. "If a woman who wears a 36-inch bra and her breast measures 7 inches across [an A cup] wants to be a C cup, during surgery I would increase the width of her breast from 7 inches to 9 inches. Then I would be quite confident that, post-operatively, she would fit into a 36 C bra."

    POST-OP BRA DESIGN David B. Brothers, M.D., a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Atlanta, Ga., listened when patient after patient said she could not find a bra that fit her augmented breasts appropriately. He took action and partnered with the New York City-based lingerie company Le Mystere to create Le Mystere No. 9, a product line designed specifically for women who have had a breast augmentation.

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    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton is a writer in Boca Raton, Fla., who heads up her company, Words Come Alive.

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