Ciaravino

Mammograms & Breast Implants

Many women who decide to undergo breast augmentation  wonder how breast implants will affect their mammograms. While some studies have shown that breast implants can potentially interfere with routine mammograms, accurate screening can still be performed following breast augmentation.

How?

To ensure adequate mammograms, it is important to let the mammography center know that you have breast implants. The technician and radiologist should be familiar with performing mammograms on women with implants. They may elect to do special techniques known as “implant displacement views” in order to visualize all areas of the breast. So, accurate mammograms can still be performed after breast augmentation, although a slightly different technique may be used to obtain the image.

When?

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer for women and routine mammograms are very important in locating possible tumors. Dr. Ciaravino encourages his patients to follow the general guidelines described by the American Cancer Society which suggests that women over the age of 40 should have mammograms every one to two years. For women in this age group, a baseline mammogram before surgery is generally recommended. An additional mammogram one year post-operatively is also useful to have an image of your breasts with implants in place. He also suggests that women with a higher than average risk of breast cancer (such as a strong family history of the disease) should talk with their doctor about whether they should have mammograms before age 40 and how often to have them. He also recommends routine self breast exam to feel for lumps, which is possible (and in some cases even easier) in patients with breast implants.

Additional Concerns

Some women with breast implants fear that the mammogram test will rupture their breast implant. This may lead to them to delaying or even forgoing this extremely important exam. While there have been cases of breast implant rupture following mammogram, it is highly unlikely that this would occur. Breast implants are rather durable and can withstand the forces associated with mammograms. Because your health and safety are the number one priority, it is important that you do not skip your mammogram just because you have breast implants !

Other radiographic studies

Ultrasound is a commonly used breast imaging technique. It is often recommended to evaluate solid masses and fluid-filled cysts. Ultrasound is entirely safe to perform in women with breast implants. The presence of implants should not interfere with the ability to obtain an accurate ultrasound image.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is particularly useful in the evaluation of women with breast implants. In addition to providing outstanding views of the breast tissue, MRI can determine whether or not an implant is intact. Because of this ability, MRI is often utilized in patients with silicone gel breast implants. Unlike saline implants, which visibly deflate as the saline leaks from a ruptured implant, silicone gel implant ruptures are more difficult to detect. This is because the thick cohesive gel tends to maintain it’s shape, making it difficult to see leaks with the naked eye. MRI allows your doctor to visualize the breast implant shell directly to identify possible ruptures.

Because of MRI’s effectiveness in evaluating silicone gel breast implants, the FDA recommends that women with silicone gel breast implants undergo baseline MRI at 3 years post-operatively, and follow-up MRI s every 2 years thereafter. Many plastic surgeons and other physicians question whether or not this FDA guideline is too frequent. Dr. Ciaravino will discuss with you what role MRI may play in your care.

If you have questions about breast implants, mammograms or other radiographic studies other, please contact experienced Houston plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Ciaravino today. Dr. Ciaravino has patients from all over Texas, across the nation, and around the world.

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