Many women and transgender individuals who have breast implants are uncertain of the best methods to check for breast cancer. Many people think that breast implants interfere with mammography. In actuality, your radiologist and technologist are well versed in how to work with the implants to capture valuable imaging to view the natural breast tissue. Mammography, therefore, is an essential tool for people who have implants as well as for those who do not.
Can You Have a Mammogram With Implants?
The simple answer is yes. Although there is confusion around this topic, the truth of the matter is that breast implants are not a deterrent to getting a mammogram or breast cancer screening. Breast implants are mostly made of silicone or saline, and this material can interfere with the mammography procedure. However, imaging specialists are able to work around the implant material to obtain the essential images needed to produce an informative screen.
Mammograms Are One of The Best Methods to Check For Cancerous Cells in the Breast Tissues of Those With Implants
How Do Breast Implants Tamper With a Mammography Exam?
The X-rays used to create clear images of breast tissue cannot penetrate silicone or saline materials. Hence, the breast tissue structure covered by the implant cannot be seen directly. Radiologists need to adjust the screening technique in order to see the obscured breast tissue.
How Do You Check for Breast Cancer with Implants?
Breast imaging radiology specialists use a special method to perform a mammogram in patients who have implants. The implants need to be gently “moved away” from the natural breast tissue, or “displaced”, to allow the machine to capture the proper images. While the natural breast tissue is pulled forward and the implant is “pushed back” against the chest wall, eight breast photos are taken (from four perspectives), instead of the normal four photos (from two perspectives) captured in a standard mammogram for non-implant patients. Radiologists rely on these “implant displacement views “to see the tissue behind and around the implant.
What do I Need to do to Prepare?
If you have silicone implants, you should check to be sure that your implants are not ruptured before undergoing a mammogram procedure. Experts recommend that you check for ruptures 3 years after the initial implant procedure and every two years thereafter, using an MRI screening test. This will need to be planned ahead of your mammogram appointment.
Also, be sure to tell your technologist before the time of your mammogram appointment, or as you’re setting the appointment, that you have implants so they can allocate the right amount of time and plan for the right exam.
What to Expect During a Mammogram With Implants: Is it Painful?
Many people wonder if having a mammogram with breast implants is painful. During your mammogram, the technologist will “move” your natural breast tissue, pushing the implant towards your chest wall. This can cause a little discomfort, but most people report that the pain is quite minimal. The sensation of pain is heightened if the patient has scar tissue. Your technologist will work with you to address any discomfort and make the procedure as comfortable as possible.
If you have breast implants, don’t shy away from scheduling your mammogram. It is essential to be proactive about regular screenings and take care of your breast health. When you are ready to have a mammogram, call Connecticut Breast Imaging to learn more about the procedure and what to expect. Our experienced radiologists and technologists are highly experienced and skilled at performing these exams on women and transgender individuals with implants, and are dedicated to guiding you through the entire process with ease.