Breast Augmentation and Mammograms: What You Should Know
Mammograms are usually not the most enjoyable things on a woman’s health care to-do list, ranking alongside colonoscopies and Pap smears. However, they are an essential preventive measure for protecting your health. Even with advanced technologies like MRIs and nuclear scan tests, mammograms are still the most accurate test to determine the presence of breast cancer.
Unfortunately, breast augmentation patients may find breast cancer screening is more challenging. The presence of implants may require additional images taken during a mammogram. However, these tests are the best way to detect implant ruptures or early-stage breast cancer.
Did you know mammograms reveal changes in your breasts for up to two years before your doctor or you would notice them? If you’ve had breast enhancement surgery, your implants may complicate the process slightly. As happy as your new and improved breast contours may make you, the implants can prevent the mammogram tech from getting a clear picture.
Silicone implants appear as a solid mass on X-rays, blocking the machine’s ability to see past them. That means some breast tissue is not visible, making it harder for your radiologist to find any abnormalities that may exist. The obstruction becomes more challenging if you chose to have your surgeon place the implants in front of your chest muscles.
Saline implants also provide partially obstructed images, but not to the same degree as implants with a silicone core.
Working Around the Issue
Fortunately, there is a process to get around any interference your implants may cause – a mammogram method known as an implant displacement view. This technique involves pushing the implants back against the chest wall, then pulling the breast tissue from behind the muscle before taking the image.
An implant displacement view maximizes the amount of tissue transparent to the X-ray, thereby increasing your radiologist’s chances of detecting any abnormalities that exist.
An implant displacement view may make a difference in ensuring your mammogram is effective. But your radiologist needs to understand what they’re looking at before they perform the test. And the only way for them to know before going into the appointment is for you to tell them yourself.
Every time you schedule a mammogram, you should let the clinic know you have breast implants. Then, request a tech who has experience performing mammograms on women with breast implants. If they don’t have anyone, go elsewhere.
If they do, remind them about your situation when you arrive for your appointment. Then, bring up the fact that you have implants with the mammogram technician. To expedite the process, you can ask your gynecologist to refer you to a clinic with radiologists who have ample experience screening women with implants.