Is it safe to get your breasts screened after getting implants?

A question that is often asked that is usually met with a lot of misinformation is whether it is safe to get your breasts screened after getting implants. Professor Zoe Winters, a consultant breast surgeon and breast specialist, (from our Women’s Health Centre) addresses the common misconceptions about getting your breasts screened after getting implants; and debunks them.


Is getting my breasts screened after getting implants safe?

It’s understandable why women fear getting their breasts screened when there is a lot of misconception surrounding it. The earlier any cancer is detected, the better, so screening is vital – and having implants should not stop someone from having their breasts screened. Implants consist of cohesive silicone, which is not prone to rupturing under compression, therefore it cannot be an additional risk to the screening.

Although, when you do have breast implants, there is a slight altercation in the screening process. At OneWelbeck, the consultant discusses the process thoroughly and in detail, and alter the method to the correct way for screening to suit them. We take into consideration the following factors: their age, where the implant is located, and where it is placed (if it’s in the top or below the pectoral or chest wall muscle). We also safely accommodate those who take Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for menopausal symptoms and implants.

I have implants and want to get my breasts screened safely; how do I do this?

Here at OneWelbeck, we have enhanced the way that we screen women who have enlarged breasts. The routine two views give a cross-sectional view of the breast tissue followed by a method called the Eklund Technique - which is designed to assess more than 90% of breast tissue, including implants.

An experienced mammographer is always required when it comes to screening breast implants, as they know exactly how to position the implant, to achieve the most accurate image of the breast tissue. Every part of the breast, even the back, is very important to capture in the screening.

It’s crucial to be aware that it’s often not possible to screen 100% of the breast, but the more experienced the practitioner is, the better the chance of getting an accurate and representative image.

Am I at higher risk of developing cancer if I have implants?

No, not at all. The risk factors are determined by several factors, but breast enlarging surgery does not increase the likelihood of a woman developing breast cancer. I also want to emphasise that women with breast implants are not protected from breast cancer.

Cancer can occur anywhere within the breast tissues and may be missed if the described imaging techniques are not applied. Lumps and lesions in particular areas can go undetected, so it’s important to get a screening with a very experienced mammographer as they’re able to appropriately scan the entire breast. If there are issues with the breast implant, it can complicate the imaging, meaning we could miss something important.

Should I get my breasts screened more now that I have implants?

The advice remains the same, so no. The European Guidelines advise that women should undergo breast screening annually once they turn 40, and two-yearly for those who are 50+. The NHS screening programme initiates mammograms from 50 – 74 years at three yearly intervals.

Women should follow these guidelines because they will significantly reduce their chance of developing cancer in the future.

Are there different breast screening options for women who have had breast surgery?

At the OneWelbeck Women’s Health centre, we start with a mammogram, which takes an X-Ray of the entire breast (including the back) to detect any unusual lumps or abnormalities. Every woman’s breast tissue density score is provided in their imaging report. They need to be made aware that their breast density can affect their risk of getting breast cancer. This means the denser the tissue, the higher the risk of developing breast cancer, in comparison to those with fatty breast tissue.

If a woman’s breast tissue is too dense, (whether they have implants or not) then we would recommend having a breast MRI and bilateral breast ultrasound, which is designed to identify unusual lesions.

Breast surgery can increase scar tissue formation, which can cause breast fatty tissues to die, meaning the ability to compare current vs previous mammograms is crucial to be able to assess the changes over time.

How OneWelbeck can help

Here at OneWelbeck, we have a team of specialists, state of the art facilities and diagnostics, and highly competitive financial packages for self-funding patients as well as those with private health care.

Written by Professor Zoe Winters

Professor Zoe Winters is a leading Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon and Breast Specialist, specialising in the diagnosis, treatment and management of breast diseases, breast cancer and all benign breast problems.