It’s a frequently asked question that is often met with a lot of misinformation.

“Women with augmented breasts deserve to be educated regarding their body and how to look after themselves, and this includes regular preventative screening for breast cancer,” says Professor Zoe Winters, a consultant breast surgeon and breast specialist from OneWelbeck Women’s Health in London.

Below, Zoe addresses common concerns and debunks some myths about breast screening for women with implants.

Q: Can I get my breasts screened if I have implants?

A: With the misinformation about added risks and side-effects surrounding breast implants and screening, it's understandable why women may feel anxious about getting checked. However, I would like to clarify that there are no added risks to the implants, and screening is a crucial step in detecting cancer. Implants consist of high-quality, cohesive silicone which is not susceptible to rupture under compression, and so the perception that they are at risk during a mammogram is false.

The Resident: The mammographers at One Welbeck are highly experienced in screening women with breast implants.The mammographers at One Welbeck are highly experienced in screening women with breast implants. (Image: Getty Images)

It is, however, true that there is a slightly different screening process. At OneWelbeck, we can discuss the process in detail with each patient and tailor the methods for screening to their age and implant location, where an implant is placed either on top or below the pectoral or chest wall muscle. If a patient has implants and is taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for menopausal symptoms, we can also safely accommodate for this.

Q: How can I get my breasts screened safely with implants?

A: Screening a patient with breast implants requires an experienced mammographer who knows how to position the implant in the appropriate way to achieve an accurate image of the breast tissue, especially relating to the back part of the breast.

It is important to be aware that it’s often not possible to screen 100 per cent of the breast, but the more experienced a practitioner is, the better chance there is of getting a more accurate and representative image.

At OneWelbeck, we have optimised the way that we screen women with augmented breasts. The routine two views are performed giving a cross sectional view of the breast tissue followed by a method called the Eklund Technique, which is specifically designed to assess more than 90 per cent of breast tissues in relation to implants.

Q: Am I at higher risk of getting cancer if I have breast implants?

A: No, not at all. Risk factors can be determined by several factors, but augmentation surgery will not increase a woman’s likelihood of getting breast cancer. However, it is important to emphasise that women with implants are not protected from breast cancer. Cancer can occur anywhere within the breast tissues, including right at the back of the breast, towards the chest wall muscle. These cancers may be missed if the described imaging techniques are not applied.

The Resident: Women that are screened every one or two years have a significantly reduced chance of breast cancer related mortality Women that are screened every one or two years have a significantly reduced chance of breast cancer related mortality (Image: Getty Images)

Lesions and lumps in certain areas may go undetected, which is why it's so important to be screened by a mammographer with a high level of expertise. Issues with the implant itself, including implant rupture, also called a gel bleed, resulting in free silicone spreading across the breast, can also complicate imaging, running the risk of missing something.

The specialists at OneWelbeck will assess the outer silicone layers of the implants for disruption, internal silicone fractures and gel bleeds. Imaging will also include the armpits.

Q: Do I need to get my breasts screened any more or less frequently with implants?

A: No, the advice remains the same. The European guidelines recommend that women undergo breast screening annually from 40 years of age, and two yearly from 50 years onwards, regardless of implants. Currently, the UK NHS screening programme commences mammography from 50 to 74 years at three yearly intervals.

The Resident: European guidelines recommend women over 40 have an annual breast screening.European guidelines recommend women over 40 have an annual breast screening. (Image: OneWelbeck Women's Health)

Women who routinely get screened (every one or two years) will have a significantly reduced chance of breast cancer related mortality, as we can often detect early cancers that cannot be felt during clinical examinations.

Q: What breast screening options are available to women who have had breast surgery?

A: At OneWelbeck, we will begin with a mammogram, which is an X-Ray of the whole breast that enables the detection of any lumps, anomalies or concerning issues. Every woman will have their breast tissue density score provided in their imaging report. Women need to be aware that their breast density can influence their risk of getting breast cancer, with the densest breast tissues increasing risks compared to those ladies with fatty breast tissue.

If a woman’s breast tissue is too dense (with or without implants) to be accurately screened with a mammogram, then we would recommend a breast MRI and bilateral breast ultrasound, which are specifically designed to identify abnormal lesions.

Breast surgery can increase scar tissue formation, causing the death of breast fatty tissues, and so the ability to compare current versus previous mammograms is important in order to assess changes over time.

To book your mammogram at OneWelbeck Women’s Health, visit

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