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Breast Augmentation and Mammography

I’ve been asked by patients if breast augmentation and breast implants make cancer detection more difficult. It is essential to tell a mammographer that you have had ANY breast surgery including breast augmentation. With breast implants, the technologist may use special techniques to minimize the possibility of rupture and to get the very best views possible. In addition, more X-ray views are necessary to view the entire breast with implants in place. It is thus conceivable that women with breast implants may receive slightly more radiation. However, it is believed that the benefits of mammography in cancer detection certainly outweighs risks of the additional X-rays that may be necessary with women with implants. There is no evidence that breast implants placed either above or below the muscle prevent cancers from being detected. However, implants form scar tissue called capsules (and capsular contractures). And capsule formation can make reading a mammogram more difficult, as well as placement under the breast (as opposed to muscle). This is more theoretical than factual. And in fact, even when the implant is placed under the muscle half of the implant is still covered by breast tissue and not muscle. That is, even in the submuscular position, the muscle only covers the top half of the implant. Offsetting some of the slight disadvantages to a small degree is the fact that self-examination is easier when there are breast implants. With silicone or saline implants, it is probably easier to feel even tiny lumps and bumps against the smooth round surface of a breast implant.