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The possibility of breast implants obstructing mammogram screenings is a concern expressed by many women who are interested in breast augmentation. Although it is true that the presence of implants can make viewing breast tissues more difficult during a traditional mammogram, particular methods can be utilized to aid in the delivery of more accurate and definitive mammography results.

One technique that can be employed to enhance the precision of mammograms for women with breast implants positioned below the pectoral muscle (submuscular) is referred to as “implant displacement.” Using this method, the breast tissue is pulled forward while pushing the implant backwards along the chest wall during the mammogram. Along with the four normal mammogram x-rays, this technique enables four special images to be captured for a more complete view of the breast tissues.

Anyone who has breast implants scheduling a mammogram should inform the clinic or hospital of this when making their appointment. Doing so will enable the radiology team to better prepare for the screening, ultimately leading to the most precise and conclusive results possible.

In the event the implant displacement technique (or any other approach) fails to produce an acceptable mammogram result, an MRI can be requested. This advanced imaging method allows the radiologist to obtain a more detailed view of the breast tissues when implants are causing a substantial hindrance to examining the tissues.

Despite the utilization of enhanced mammogram techniques for breast cancer screening, it is important for any woman considering breast augmentation to recognize that breast implants may make the detection of early stage breast cancer more difficult. Patients with a family history for hereditary breast cancer should be especially counselled if considering breast augmentation. Most studies suggest no difference in survival between breast cancer patients with implants versus without implants, while a small number suggest a potentially adverse effect. Further research is needed to gain a better understanding of the detection of breast cancer among women with implants and survival patterns following diagnosis of breast cancer.

Dr. Lawrence Tong, Double Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

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