Mammograms can still be performed, but it is important to tell your mammographer about your breast implants. There are special views that the technician will need to perform in order to see as much of your breast tissue as possible. Even with these special techniques, 10-15% of breast tissue is not seen on a mammogram after breast augmentation, and this may delay a diagnosis of breast cancer. Studies have compared women with implants who develop breast cancer with women without implants who develop breast cancer, and the average stage at diagnosis and survival rates are the same.
Some women with breast implants find mammography painful. Capsular contracture (abnormally hard scar tissue around a breast implant) can make mammography more painful than usual, and can even make mammography impossible for some patients.
Many women are afraid of implant rupture as a result of mammogram. Testing of implant strength indicates that implants should only break with extreme force, yet sometimes implants break for no apparent reason. It is difficult to know how much risk a mammogram increases the risk of rupture since there is very little known about the exact circumstances that lead to implant rupture. All studies have shown is that here may be an increased risk of implant rupture, and there may be an increased risk of silicone gel leaking out of the capsule and into the surrounding breast tissue if an implant is already ruptured before mammography.
There are some alternatives to mammography for breast cancer screening. Careful and regular physical examination is extremely important, and Ultrasound and MRI can potentially be used instead of mammography for certain patients.