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Plastic Surgery Blog

Mammograms and Your Breast Implants

mammograms

Mammograms are a part of life for middle aged women whether they have breast implants or not. Women with breast implants, however, often have questions about how their implants may complicate having a mammogram or even wonder whether those implants compromise their breast - and best - health.

Breast Implants Do Not Cause Breast Cancer

The good news is that studies have shown that breast implants do not increase the risk of breast cancer. This is true whether your implants are silicone or saline. Breast cancer risk is calculated based on the same factors for all women: age and family history. So if you have implants, you do not have to have mammograms earlier or more often than women without them. Your family doctor will advise you when it is time to begin having breast screenings and tell you how often you should be getting them.

If you have implants, make sure to tell your technologist before your mammogram begins. In fact, it's a good idea to tell the scheduler when you make your appointment, so you can determine if the facility has the necessary experience to correctly screen your breasts. If the facility does not have that experience, go somewhere else.

How Do Breast Implants Make Mammograms More Complicated?

Mammograms use x-ray technology to scan for tumors. Unfortunately, x-rays pass through silicone or saline differently than the underlying breast tissue. So it's possible that breast tissue covered by an implant may be obscured. This is one reason why submuscular/dual
plane breast implant placement
is so important and why Dr. Feldman almost exclusively recommends this type of breast implant placement. If the implant goes below the muscle, it is far less likely to interfere with any mammographic screening, allowing the mammogram to better detect very early breast cancer.

For a woman with breast implants the technologist will take four extra pictures (two for each breast) as well as the four standard pictures. For the extra pictures, called implant displacement (ID) views, the technologist will push the implant back against the chest wall and pull the breast tissue forward over it. This helps them take better imaging of the front part of each breast. ID views are much easier and less painful to get in women whose implants are below the muscle.

Do Mammograms Damage Breast Implants?

Many women worry that having a mammogram will cause their implant to rupture. Mammograms do compress the breast, including the breast implant. The procedures that technologists use (including implant displacement) help mitigate the risk of rupture. There are other imaging options that are possible as well. That's why it's so important to go to a facility with experience screening breasts with implants and to tell your technologist ahead of time. New 3D mammography techniques with flexible paddles can greatly reduce compression and stress on implants improving the patient experience while also delivering more detailed images.

If you have breast implants or are thinking of getting breast implants, you should not worry that your health will be compromised or that you will not be able to screen for breast cancer later in life. Breast implants have no effect on the development of breast cancer and with with the right implant placement and an experienced technologist, mammograms are not only still possible, they continue to work quite well at early detection of breast cancer. 

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