3D analysis of breast augmentation defines operative changes and their relationship to implant dimensions

Oren M. Tepper, Kevin H. Small, Jacob G. Unger, Daniel L. Feldman, Naveen Kumar, Mihye Choi, Nolan S. Karp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Breast augmentation is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures performed in the United States today. Evaluation of postoperative results lacks true objective measurements. The following study reports the application of 3-dimensional (3D) photography to document changes that occur in breast morphology after breast augmentation.Patients undergoing augmentation mammaplasty with a periareolar incision were offered pre- and postoperative 3D photographs. 3D models were constructed and the following parameters were assessed: maximum anterior-posterior projection from the chest wall, angle of breast projection, total breast volume, volumetric tissue distribution in the superior and inferior poles, and surface and vector distance measurements to key landmarks.A completed series of 3D images were obtained from 14 augmentation patients (28 breasts) at an average postoperative day of 143. Saline and silicone implants were used equally (n = 14 for each). Total volume of the breast changed in correlation with the implant size (1.9% difference, P = 0.83). There were no significant changes in the volumetric distribution within the upper and lower poles of the breasts noted between pre- and postoperative scans (P = 0.81). The internal angle of breast projection was found to increase (13.6 degrees, P < 0.01), as did the sternal notch to nipple distance (11 mm, P = 0.018). Anterior-posterior projection significantly increased by 23.3 mm. However, this increase in projection was 20.9% less than expected based on implant dimensions (72.7-58.7 mm, respectively, P < 0.01).This study documents objective changes in breast morphology after augmentation mammaplasty. 3D imaging scans were able to document true changes that occur with breast augmentation including breast volume, the increase in the internal angle of the breast projection, and the sternal notch to nipple distance. 3D photography further highlighted that breast augmentation results in less than expected anterior-posterior projection, possibly due to tissue attenuation occurring anterior to the implant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-575
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Plastic Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D imaging
  • 3D photography
  • Breast augmentation
  • Breast implant
  • Mammometrics
  • Saline implant
  • Silicone implant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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