Do breast implants affect screening mammograms?

Last Modified: 11/22/2021


Screening mammograms are essential in detecting breast cancer early. They are simple, noninvasive tests to help identify any changes within your breast tissue, but it begs the question, is the process still the same for women with breast implants? For help answering our questions, we turned to the Mammography Team at Parkview Cancer Institute. Read on as they elaborate on the effect implants could have on your yearly screening.

How do breast implants impact a screening mammogram?

Typically, mammograms cannot easily go through silicone or saline implants to show the breast tissue, which means it may be more difficult to see on a screening mammogram. Because of this, imaging could take longer. Your radiologist will likely capture eight images instead of four to account for any obstructed views.

Are mammograms more uncomfortable for someone with breast implants?

No, a mammogram for someone with breast implants should not be more uncomfortable than for someone without them. The images taken with implants do not use full compression. The paddle is stabilized on the breast just enough to hold it in place. However, the other four views taken allow the radiologist to see through the breast tissue using compression, but the implant is pushed back out of the way.

Are there any risks associated with getting a mammogram for someone with breast implants?

Generally speaking, mammograms are very low risk for all women. While it is possible, it is extremely unlikely that an implant rupture would occur.  

Can breast implants impede the ability to see or detect breast cancer?

Anytime there is a foreign body in place, it can obscure imaging or the ability to see the entire area. With mammograms, the radiologist can see most of the breast tissue. However, if there is any doubt of a specific area not being seen well, the radiologist may recommend an MRI or ultrasound of the breast. In most implant cases, providers rarely request additional imaging due to an impeded view of the tissue.

Does the type of implant (saline vs. silicone) make a difference when getting a mammogram?

No, there is no difference. Both saline and silicone implants look similar on a screening mammogram.

Can the location of someone’s implants affect the experience or reading of the mammogram?

When the implant is underneath the muscle, the radiologist may see the breast tissue more easily, but not always. The amount and/or volume of actual breast tissue makes a big difference in visualization.  

How long should someone wait after getting implants placed or removed before getting a mammogram?

It’s crucial that you give your breast time to heal. It’s best to wait at least six months before getting a mammogram unless your doctor has a specific reason and has requested you get imaging done earlier.

Is the first mammogram after implant surgery the new baseline mammogram?

No. The radiologist would still need to compare your new images with those taken before the placement of your implants.

Final thoughts

It is extremely important to have a mammogram done, even for women with breast implants. One notable exception is when a patient receives implants due to a mastectomy where the breast tissue gets completely removed. In this scenario, you should discuss whether imaging is appropriate with your provider because mammograms may not be necessary after a mastectomy of one or both breasts.

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