One of the most frequently asked questions in consultations of plastic surgery is whether they can do mammograms after breast augmentation.
The answer to that concern is yes, because it doesn’t cause any problem. In fact, in some cases, it facilitates and improves its results due to sub-muscular placement. Although it is always recommended to let the specialist who will make the mammography know of the existence of breast implants before undergoing mammography, in order to take that fact into account when reviewing the results.
It is important to mention some of the symptoms that can be detected on a mammogram. When some type of breast surgery is done, such as breast augmentation, macro calcifications can appear, and micro calcifications could appear when suffering breast cancer that have nothing to do with the above and the specific diagnosis can be reached due to the differentiation. Therefore, the macro calcifications can form in any type of breast surgery and are very easy to distinguish from micro calcifications that appear when it’s breast cancer.
There is no impediment for mammograms after breast augmentation, but it is important for the specialist who will perform it to know that the patient wears a breast prosthesis.
The procedure for mammograms after breast augmentation is just the same for both cases, but always alerting the radiologist of their existence. Mammography can be supplemented with a breast ultrasound, and in specific cases where they have doubts about possible rupture in the implants, the patient must undergo a CT or a tomography for better results and clear doubts.
Do implant patients receive more radiation in mammograms?
It is a fact that women with implants receive more mammographic studies, but this does not increase radiation risks, nor can it cause any disease since the doses emitted are very low and are not harmful at all.
Mammograms are very important because they help to diagnose diseases even in patients without symptoms. Mammography is a method that provides an effective way to detect, diagnose and guide the treatment for different types of breast diseases, especially cancer.
Experts always take special care to control the radiation to the patient to reduce the risks because:
- Breast tissue has a high sensitivity level to the possible adverse effects of radiation.
- To obtain a quality image, it is necessary to apply a higher dose of radiation than other imaging studies. This is because the breast is composed mainly of soft tissue and has a very low contrast and therefore more amount of radiation is needed to produce images with good visibility of the normal anatomy of the breast and possible indications of any pathology.
- The goal of a mammography is to provide images with a clear view of the anatomy of the breasts and signs of disease without requiring the patient to undergo unnecessary exposure to radiation. Each study should be optimized and for that the mammography equipment will have to use the most appropriate image parameters in each case to get the information and the image quality needed using the lowest radiation exposure needed.
The radiation dose for each patient is determined by three major factors:
- The density and size of the patient’s breast.
- The characteristics of the equipment that will be used.
- The technical parameters to be selected for the test.
The beam of the radiation from a mammography equipment is calibrated to give a very specific dose based on a reference breast, which is medium in size and then specific technical parameters are used to adjust the automatic exposure control to obtain a determined image density.
Sometimes the radiation dose increases with the size and density of the breast in order to penetrate the tissue and get the desired image.
The most sensitive areas to the radiation is the glandular breast tissue and not fat tissue.
The average glandular dose is considered as an adequate scale for comparative studies of risks in different mammograms. There are now digital mammography systems that automatically displays the results and calculates the amount of glandular dose that should be used in each of the patients.
To ensure the quality of images with a low dose of radiation, mammography must be performed by highly trained technicians, able to assess each patient’s breast. It is important to avoid promoting the idea among patients to decide based on the amount of dose and seek for medical centers that offer mammograms with the lowest dose because it does not provide optimal results.
The compression of the breasts is necessary even when they are sensitive. In all cases, a light compression should be applied for a short time, but firm enough for the breast, and it’s done by means of a transparent plastic. It is quite important that the breast is compressed in order to obtain the clearest picture with the lowest possible dose of radiation. The compression does not allow the breast to move during exposure. Some women report that mammography feel somewhat uncomfortable.
In conclusion we can say that after breast augmentation, more mammograms are done, but radiation does not carry an increased risk. It is important to know that the bigger the breast, the greater should be the radiation, due to the size and density, to achieve a good image contrast.
Could implants rupture when compressing the breast during a mammography test?
Many women think that doing a mammogram could cause a rupture in the implant. However, this never happens, unless the prosthesis is old and is extremely deteriorated.
For additional security, if the patient is not sure of the status of their prostheses, it is advised to consult their plastic surgeon and take precautions before undergoing a mammogram to avoid any problems.
Similarly, having a breast augmentation is not a contraindication for the mammography as a diagnostic technique. It is important that women with or without implants come at least once a year, the due to the importance to detect any abnormalities in the breasts.
Women with breast prostheses can make a normal life like any other woman and, statistically speaking, they all have the same chance of developing cancer, so it’s necessary to review breasts by performing mammography tests.
Mammography is applied to patients over 30 years old. Women wearing implants before that age should not undergo a mammogram but an ultrasound instead, unless the doctor indicates that a mammogram is needed because of a high level of probability of having cancer.
Precautions to reduce any risk of rupture
Although we commented that the prosthesis will not break due to the compression of the breast during a mammography, to avoid any complications, it is necessary to alert the radiologist of the existence of breast implants so that the specialist will take that into account and avoid compress the chest too much. If you feel that the specialists are applying too much pressure, you should go to another place where you are treated better.