Will My Breast Implants Affect My Mammogram?
Generally, mammograms are necessary for all women over the age of 35 to 40 to screen for any signs of breast cancer. Unfortunately, breast implants can affect the clarity of some of these images, making interpretation more challenging. Because of this, additional mammogram views are taken in order to fully visualize the breast.
Implant Placement Makes a Difference
Breast implants, both saline and silicone, can obscure breast tissue by impairing the ability of the x-rays to penetrate them enough to obtain detailed images. It is important to note that implants placed below the muscle have a much smaller chance of interfering with a mammogram as compared to implants placed above the muscle. This is another reason that submuscular placement is generally recommended.
For implants placed above the muscle, a technique known as implant displacement can be employed. This involves (attempting to) pull breast tissue away from the implant so that it can be better penetrated by the x-rays. Though it can be successful, especially when the breasts remain soft, it is often a quite uncomfortable experience.
Inform Your Doctor
Even if you have breast implants, mammograms or other radiological evaluations of your breasts are still necessary. You should make sure that your physician is aware of your implants so that he/she can order the most appropriate study for you—whether it is a mammogram, digital ultrasound, or even an MRI.
Implants Do Not Affect Your Cancer Risk
Although breast implants make mammograms slightly more difficult to read, implants do not increase your cancer risk. Saline and silicone implants are safe, and the same risk factors apply whether you do or do not have breast implants. Common risk factors for breast cancer include family history, genetics, and age.
Mammograms Rarely Damage Implants
Some women choose to avoid or postpone their mammograms because they fear that the test will damage their implants. While this is a possibility due to the pressure placed on the implants, it is not very common. However, it can become more likely to occur after the implants have been in for many, many years. Concern about the very low potential of rupture is not a valid reason to avoid some form of radiological evaluation of your breasts.
To learn more about the impact that breast implants have on mammograms, or to set up your breast augmentation consultation, contact Dr. Turkeltaub by calling (480) 451-3000 or by filling out our online contact form.