If you have breast implants, you should still get regular screening mammograms as recommended (unless you had both breasts removed with a bilateral mastectomy before getting the implants).
It’s important to tell the technologist you have implants before your mammogram is started. In fact, it’s best to mention this when you make the appointment to have your mammogram done. This way you can find out if the facility has experience doing mammograms in women with breast implants.
You should be aware that both silicone and saline implants can make it hard for the doctor to see the breast tissue that is in line with them on the mammogram.
To help the doctor see as much breast tissue as possible, women with implants have 4 extra pictures done (2 on each breast), as well as the 4 standard pictures taken during a screening mammogram. In these extra pictures, called implant displacement (ID) views, the implant is pushed back against the chest wall and the breast is pulled forward over it and then compressed. This allows better imaging of the front part of each breast so the doctor can get a better look at the breast tissue.
Implant displacement views are harder to do and can be uncomfortable if areas of scar tissue (called contractures) have formed around the implants. ID views are easier if the implants were placed underneath (behind) the chest muscles.
Very rarely, the mammogram process can rupture an implant. This is another important reason to make sure the mammography facility knows you have implants.
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Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Elmore JG, Lee CI. Screening for breast cancer: Strategies and recommendations. UpToDate. 2021. Accessed at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/screening-for-breast-cancer-strategies-and-recommendations on October 4, 2021.
Helvie MA, Patterson SK. Chapter 11: Imaging Analysis: Mammography. In: Harris JR, Lippman ME, Morrow M, Osborne CK, eds. Diseases of the Breast. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2014.
Nahabedian M. Implant-based breast reconstruction and augmentation. UpToDate. 2021. Accessed at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/implant-based-breast-reconstruction-and-augmentation on October 4, 2021.
Last Revised: January 14, 2022
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