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Boom in bust analysis?

Plastic surgeons Patrick Mallucci and Olivier Alexandre Branford studied 100 topless models favoured by newspaper picture editors in a bid to identify the “perfect” breast.

Their aim was to establish a consistent pattern, which could arguably define a sense of beauty, and they discovered four key parameters:

1. The so-called u:l ratio is in the proportion of 45:55 where the upper part of the breast makes up 45 per cent of the whole and the lower, a fuller 55 per cent.

2. The nipple sits at the upper-lower boundary, known as the nipple meridian, and points upwards at a mean angle of 20 degrees.

3. The upper slope of the breast is either a straight line or slightly concave.

4. The lower profile is a smooth convex curve.

The London-based authors of the 2011 study – Concepts in aesthetic breast dimensions: Analysis of the ideal breast – acknowledge that the observations are simple, but when used as a template upon which to analyse breast form, they may be powerful indices of attractiveness.

The key parameters may influence implant selection and placement, as well as mastopexy and breast reduction design, and allow for a more meaningful interpretation of shape or disharmony, they say in the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery.

It is a common experience that women presenting for breast augmentation, often think of volume and not shape, yet the line between enhancement and distortion is easily crossed.

Women presenting for breast augmentation often think of volume and not shape, yet the line between enhancement and distortion is easily crossed

However, discussion and explanation around the concept of proportion and form as the principal contributors of beauty, rather than just sheer volume, allow for a better understanding of outcome goals and thereby implant selection and operative planning.

The importance of establishing guidelines serves as a potential template for design in aesthetic breast surgery, they say. It allows for much more three-dimensional interpretation of form and more meaningful discussion than such isolated measurements as nipple position alone.

Ultimately the purpose of a template is in the production of a more predictable outcome. It is difficult to strive towards a goal without being clear about the nature of that goal. It seems fundamental to aesthetic breast surgery, and indeed to reconstructive breast surgery, that in order to be able to create or recreate ideal breast form, we must have an ideal to aspire towards.

It must be assumed, however, that this ideal may not be entirely cross-cultural. The findings from 100 models in equivalent publications from another culture, in Japan say, might be quite different. In addition, individual preferences are not taken into account and it is well known there is great variation in taste.