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Mytien Goldberg, MD, FACS

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Will I have to receive mammograms more often after I get breast implants?

Posted April 25, 2012 in Breast Implant

Some patients who are eager to get breast implants do not take the time to learn exactly what measures of precaution and after-care they will need to implement in their schedule. However, after the healing process, women with breast implants are generally advised to follow the same breast-care guidelines that women without breast implants should follow. This includes monthly self-examinations and regular mammograms.

There is no evidence that implants play any notable role in preventing mammography efforts from being effective. Radiologists have said that it may take longer to read mammograms of patients with implants; however, the test remains equally as effective as a preventative measure. Women with breast implants may need to have mammography shots taken from multiple angles. It may also take the radiologist longer to assess the results. A properly performed mammogram for patients with breast implants should not squeeze the implants excessively, but should apply adequate pressure to keep the breast from moving. Many patients actually report that having a mammogram after receiving breast implants is less painful than the procedure had been before receiving breast implants.

Breast implants can also lead to small calcium deposits formed along with scar tissues around the implant. Because these calcifications may show up on the reading radiologists must spend more time interpreting the results. At the same time, one of the advantages of having breast implants is that self-breast examinations can be far easier. Feeling even small lumps against the round and smooth surface of the implant is far easier than without implants.

There are portions of the breast that even on women without implants, can be difficult to capture on a mammogram. The tissues that sit behind the breasts and against the ribs and musculature are the most difficult to capture regardless of the size of the breast. Some have raised the question of the possibility of breast implants actually making more breast tissue visible on mammograms due to the position of implants behind the breast tissue itself, separating it slightly from the chest wall. In most patients, roughly 5% – 10% of the tissues cannot be seen on a mammogram regardless of whether or not the patient has implants.

Women with breast implants should be seen just as often for mammograms as those without implants and these women should be sure to inform the mammography technician that they do have breast implants. The technician will then need to manipulate the breast and implants carefully so that the machine is sure to effectively register the patient’s natural breast tissue.


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