Breast Implants & Mammograms
A mammogram is a specialized x-ray of the breast tissue. It is recommended that women have a mammogram yearly starting at 40 years of age. While most breast lumps are usually benign, some aren't. It is important to always do monthly self-breast exams so that you "know" your breasts. Breasts are lumpy, and it is important for you to know the "geography" of your breasts. Any time you find a suspicious lump, it is paramount that you contact your doctor for further evaluation.
Breast implants can interfere with mammography screenings as they can hide questionable lumps and lesions during mammogram screenings. Obviously, if there is a history of breast cancer in your family, this is something to consider prior to getting breast implants.
During a mammogram, your breast is placed between two flat plates, which are then compressed so that your breast is firmly between the plates. Once positioned properly, the x-ray technician will take an x-ray. Typically, in women without breast implants, two x-rays are taken of each breast. This procedure is not painful, just a little uncomfortable. If you do experience pain, let your technician know.
Women with breast implants should always let their mammogram technician know that they have breast implants since mammograms are performed a bit differently on women with breast implants. Implanted women usually have the Eklund Technique performed during their mammograms. The Eklund Technique was originally designed as a technique to use on women with subglandular (over the muscle) breast implant, but has shown to be helpful in women with submuscular implants as well. Even with this advanced technique, it is possible that not all breast tissue will be seen on the mammogram.
The Eklund Technique pushes the breast implant back against the chest wall, while the breast tissue is gently pulled to the front and placed between the compression plates.
Mammograms are unable to penetrate through silicone and saline breast implants. Because of this, additional views must be taken, thus resulting in more radiation, although the extra amount is generally considered negligible. In addition, the benefit of a mammogram finding cancer far outweighs the risk of any additional radiation.