If you have breast implants, the American Cancer Society recommends still receiving regular screening mammograms.
What to expect when getting an implant screening mammogram:
It’s vital to tell the technologist you have implants before your mammogram is started. We recommend you mention this when you make the appointment for your mammogram.
You should note that it might be hard for the doctor to see certain parts of your breast. The x-rays used in mammograms cannot go through silicone or saline implants well enough to show the breast tissue under them, meaning that part of the tissue of the breast can be difficult to see on a mammogram.
How the process differs from regular mammograms:
Implant screening mammograms will have 4 additional pictures done (2 on each breast), for a total of 8 pictures. The additional pictures are called implant displacement (ID) views, often referred to as the Eklund technique. During these shots, the implant is pushed back against the chest wall and the breast is pulled forward over it to allow clearer imaging of the front part of each breast.
Experiencing Implant Screening
Implant displacement views (the Eklund technique) are more difficult to conduct and can be uncomfortable if the woman has had a lot of scar tissue around the implants. In cases where the implants were placed underneath/behind the chest muscles, ID views will be easier.
In some rare cases, an implant can be ruptured during the mammogram. It’s important that you ensure your technologist is aware of the implants and experienced in implant screening procedures.
Preparing for your mammogram:
The best time to schedule your mammogram is when your breasts are not tender or swollen. This will reduce discomfort and aid in clear photos. We recommend not scheduling a week before your period.
Here are a few things you should do to prepare on the day of your exam:
- Don’t wear deodorant or antiperspirant. Some of these contain substances that can show up on the x-ray as white spots. If you need, feel free to bring your deodorant to apply after the exam.
- You might find it easier to wear separates, like a skirt or pants and a shirt, so that you’ll only need to remove your top and bra for the mammogram.
- Describe to the best of your ability any changes or issues you’re having to the technologist doing the mammogram.
- Also describe any medical history that could affect your risk for breast cancer —such as surgery, hormone use, breast cancer in your family, or if you’ve had breast cancer before.
- If you think you might be pregnant or you’re breastfeeding, tell the technologist before getting the imaging test.
- Discuss any recent changes or problems in your breasts with your healthcare provider before getting the mammogram.