Will Breast Augmentation Surgery affect breast cancer screening and mammograms?

Breast augmentation surgery and breast cancer screening

Breast augmentation surgery and screenings

This is a very important consideration for all patients. As someone trained in general surgery, my first concern as a breast surgeon was whether or not implants would in any way place my patients at increased risk. The fact is, breast implants appear to be quite safe. Radiologists and mammography technicians are very comfortable performing cancer screening in patients who have had breast augmentation surgery.

  • What do I need to know about breast augmentation surgery and cancer screening? First and foremost, women need to know that breast implants have been scientifically shown not to increase your risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer screening includes both mammograms and self exam. Self exam is arguably easier with the assistance of a smooth implant under the tissues of the breast as opposed to the very irregular surface of the rib cage. Mammograms are typically recommended annually starting at age 40. Your mammography technician will ask you whether or not you have implants at the time of your visit. This is important as the technique for your mammogram is different if you have implants.
  • Does the position of my implant affect my mammograms? Possibly. At the start of my career in plastic surgery, I asked an expert breast radiologist about implants and mammograms. Their opinion was that submuscular implants actually helped define the planes of the breast making it in some ways easier to interpret.
  • Should I get a mammogram prior to breast augmentation surgery? It depends. If you are age forty or over, it is recommended that you have annual mammograms. I do not change my recommendations for breast cancer screening for my implant patients. I do however ask all my patients the date of their last mammogram. If you are due for your annual exam, you should by all means have this done prior to your breast augmentation surgery. There are multiple reasons for this, but among them is the fact that I recommend waiting a full year prior to your next mammogram. Scar tissue after breast augmentation surgery makes interpretation of mammography more difficult. Since it takes several months to over a year for scars to soften, you should not confuse your cancer screening with scar tissue if at all possible.
  • If I have a family history of breast cancer, is it unsafe to have breast implants? This is a very good question and one that you should discuss with your primary care doctor in addition to your plastic surgeon. Breast implants have not been shown to affect risk of breast cancer or difficulty with breast cancer screening. For these reasons there should be no problem for women regardless of their family history to have safe breast augmentation surgery.
  • If I develop breast cancer, will my implants interfere with my treatment? Clearly any patient diagnosed with breast cancer will put medical issues ahead of cosmetic issues when it comes to treating their cancer. Many women with breast implants are able to keep their breast implants during their treatment for cancer. Based on feedback from oncologic surgeons and radiation therapists, the most ideal placement for breast implants is both under the muscle and through an incision which does not interfere with axillary lymph node drainage. That means that under the muscle placement and avoidance of the axillary approach are ideal.

Questions regarding breast augmentation surgery and screenings?

Please feel free to contact my office if you have any questions regarding breast augmentation surgery and cancer screenings like mammograms.

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