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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2009 May;123(5):1588-96. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181a076ad.

Surface area measurement of the female breast: phase I. Validation of a novel optical technique.

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Section of Plastic Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn. 06520-8041, USA.



Breast shape is largely determined by the volume of tissue and surface area of the skin envelope. Values for breast surface area have never been published in the literature. The investigators have developed an inexpensive, noninvasive optical method to objectively measure breast volume and surface area, and its accuracy is determined.


An optical grid is projected onto the breast, and two images are captured to create a computerized three-dimensional model from which volume, surface area, and maximum vertical projection are calculated.


To assess accuracy, simple geometric shapes (n = 22) were analyzed, and the actual volume, surface area, and maximum vertical projection were compared with the imaged values using least-squares linear regression. There was excellent correlation in all three parameters (r > 0.995, p < 10). The mean differences in volume, surface area, and maximum vertical projection were 28 +/- 28 ml (mean +/- SD), 2 +/- 9 cm, and 0.4 +/- 0.5 cm, respectively. Female breasts (n = 14) were then analyzed, and the actual volume and surface area were measured using plaster casts. Based on least-squares linear regression, there was excellent correlation between the imaged values and actual values (r > 0.992, p < 10), and the mean differences in volume and surface area were 32 +/- 22 ml and 3 +/- 11 cm, respectively.


For the first time, an optical method has been demonstrated to measure volume and surface area with accuracy. When the method is applied to the breast, measurement errors are small and clinically insignificant. The ability to facilitate quantitative breast surgery will be investigated in future phases of this experiment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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