Breast augmentation is a common procedure that can help a woman feel more like herself. We aren’t all born with the bodies that suit our personality. Small breasts are not any less beautiful than larger breasts, but this is a physical feature that often means a lot to a woman. If you’ve been considering getting breast implants to enhance the size and shape of your breasts, you want to know how your choice will affect future mammograms.
Statistics indicate that 1 in 8 American women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. At this time, mammogram screening remains the gold standard for breast cancer detection. In an older study published in the International Journal of Cancer, it was reported that, while breast implants did not affect the outcome of breast cancer treatment, they did delay the initial diagnosis. Since that study was published, additional research has occurred, answering critical questions that we will discuss here.
Does implant position matter in mammogram screening results?
According to clinical observation, it is believed that the position of breast implants does make a difference in the outcome of mammogram imaging. Breast implants placed over the muscle can obscure the visualization of breast tissue to some degree. When implants are placed below the muscle, the screening may be more accurate.
Regardless of the position of breast implants, women who have undergone breast augmentation typically need an additional mammogram view, called the Eklund, to achieve the best possible visualization of breast tissue.
Does capsular contracture affect mammogram screenings?
Capsular contracture is a complication from breast augmentation that involves the development of thick scar tissue around the implant. In one study researchers determined that a grade III or IV capsular contracture was the most important factor limiting the visualization of breast tissue. These grades on the Baker Scale are more severe and usually coincide with symptoms such as breast firmness and pain.
Does having breast implants increase the risk of getting breast cancer?
According to multiple studies, there is no indication that having breast implants will increase a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer. This is true even in light of the recall that took place in 2019 that linked a certain type of textured breast implant with breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). In fact, some studies suggest that women with breast implants tend to have a lower instance of breast cancer. It is not that breast implants are protective, but perhaps that women who get breast implants typically have less breast tissue to begin with. If a woman with breast implants does develop breast cancer, her prognosis is not affected by her breast augmentation.