Screening people with breast implants

It is important tell the radiographer that you have breast implants as mammography can be less effective in people with them. This is because the x-rays cannot ‘see’ through an implant to the breast tissue behind it. Breast screening usually involves two pictures of each breast, but we take more pictures if you have implants so we can see as much breast tissue as possible. It is your choice whether to have the extra images or not.

You will be asked to sign a consent form, which the radiographer will talk you through.

What to do if you’re worried about damaged implants

Screening does not check your implants. If you think you have a problem with one or both implants, we won’t screen you. You need to see your GP who referred you for further investigations if they are needed.

Some women know their implants have ruptured but aren’t causing a problem. Let the radiographer know as you may still be able to be screened.

Because the mammogram is taken by pressing each breast between 2 plates on the X-ray machine, there may be a small risk that the pressure may harm the implant. Only minimal pressure is used, and there is currently no evidence that it can cause a rupture.

For your extra x-rays, only the breast tissue in front of the implant is pressed. There is no direct pressure on the implant. If you are concerned, please talk to the radiographer.

I’ve had a mastectomy and implant reconstruction. Is the mammogram different?

If you have had a total mastectomy and a breast reconstruction with (or without) an implant on one side, you don’t need breast screening that side. This is because all breast tissue has been removed. Your other breast will be x-rayed.

If you have had mastectomies on both sides, you do not need breast screening.