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FAQ - Breast Health

  • Will I need a mammogram before my breast augmentation?

    Yes, if you are 30 years old, or older, a mammogram will be required before any cosmetic breast surgery. A recent mammogram, performed within nine months of surgery, may be adequate. Women with a strong family history of breast cancer and those with an interest in early screening are advised to obtain a mammogram.When should my mammogram be performed?

  • When should my mammogram be performed?

    Within nine months of surgery. If you need a mammogram, it is great to have this performed prior to your consultation so that the results can be reviewed. Please be sure to fax, mail or bring your results to us.

  • Where is my mammogram performed?

    You may have your primary doctor or Ob/Gyn refer you to a center covered by your insurance. We can also order your mammogram for you, usually through Epic Imaging.

  • Will my health insurance coverage pay for my mammogram?

    Yes, under most circumstances they will. Please check with your insurance company. Ease of insurance reimbursement may be a reason to have your mammogram ordered by your primary doctor.

  • Where do you refer me for mammograms and other imaging studies?

    Epic Imaging. They have convenient locations on the west and east sides of Portland. For information please refer to the Epic Imaging website.

  • After I have my breast implants should I continue to get mammograms?

    Yes, you should follow mammogram screening guidelines, just as women without breast implants would.

  • Will breast implants change the way my routine mammograms are performed?

    While there is no evidence that breast implants cause breast cancer, they may change the way mammography is done to detect cancer. When you request a routine mammogram, be sure to tell the radiologist and technician that you have breast implants. Additional views may be required, likely including views in which the implants are displaced slightly from the breast tissue.

  • Can mammograms damage the breast implants?

    The breasts and implants are manipulated and squeezed during mammography. Therefore, the implants may be at some risk of damage from this procedure. However, the risk of implant injury is very low and should not deter women with implants from getting mammograms.

  • Does the position of the breast implants affect the quality of my mammogram?

    Yes. Breast implants placed under the pectoralis major muscle interfere with mammograms less compared to implants placed directly under the breast tissue.

  • Are women with breast implants more likely to get breast cancer?

    No, women with breast implants are at no greater risk of having breast cancer than the general population of women without breast implants.

  • Can you recommend some resources to learn more about breast cancer and screening guidelines?

    Yes, The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

  • After I have my breast implants should I continue to perform self breast exams and obtain routine breast exams from my primary doctor and Ob/Gyn?

    Yes, you should follow the same guidelines for breast examination as those women without breast implants should.

  • Can I have breast augmentation if I have a family history of breast cancer?

    There are different levels of risk based on your relation to those family members that have had breast cancer. This will need to be discussed with Dr. Connall. You can have breast augmentation, with a family history of breast cancer, but the risks will need to be discussed in detail and you will need to have a clear understanding of and acceptance of those risks.

  • Can I have breast augmentation if I have an abnormal mammogram or breast ultrasound?

    Usually not. However, on occasion minor areas of concern are found on mammography that require further mammogram tests (usually at six month intervals) only for observation and diagnosis. The most important thing in such a case is that you can obtain good, reliable images in the future so the radiologist can make the correct diagnosis. Surgery and implants could interfere with such future images and, therefore, we usually defer surgery until your mammograms and ultrasounds are stable. In rare cases, we can proceed with surgery, if the patient understands the risks clearly and the suspicions raised on the images are very low. This is a complex problem which requires a detailed assessment and discussion between the patient and Dr. Connall.

  • Can I get an MRI instead of a mammogram?

    Presently, mammograms are the standard screening test for breast cancer. MRIs can also be used to inspect the breast tissue, but they are currently not the recommended standard. MRIs are much more expensive than mammograms.

  • What about MRIs for inspecting silicone breast implants for possible rupture?

    MRI is the most effective (and presently recommended) test to look at breast implants for possible rupture. Mammograms are not very sensitive at detecting rupture and are not an appropriate alternative to MRI for this purpose.

  • What are the FDA recommendations for imaging silicone implants for possible rupture?

    Since most ruptures of silicone gel implants do not affect the look and feel of the breasts, an imaging test is usually required to detect failure of a silicone gel implant. MRI is the standard test to image breast implants for rupture. To be sure that your breast implants are intact, the FDA recommends that you obtain an MRI three years after augmentation and every two years thereafter.

    Will my insurance pay for breast MRIs to look for silicone breast implant rupture?

    Most likely not. This should be reviewed with your insurance carrier.

  • How much do breast MRIs cost?

    About $1,000-$2,000. Please check with your medical imaging provider to determine the specific cost.

    Are any other tests available to detect breast implant rupture?

    It is possible that less expensive alternatives, such as ultrasound imaging of the breasts, may be viable in the future. However, the only FDA recommended test at this time is MRI.

  • Do I need to get MRIs to check for failure of saline breast implants?

    No. Failure of a saline breast implant is usually obvious because the breast will change in shape, size and feel as the implant deflates. Therefore, an MRI is not needed. In addition, the leakage of salt water is not a concern and, therefore, detection of even slow leaks is not important from a breast health standpoint.

  • What do I do if an MRI shows a failure of a silicone breast implant?

    A failed silicone gel breast implant is generally not harmful to your breast, as the silicone gel is very thick and it just bulges from the implant shell. However, to be sure that the gel does not migrate and/or cause a tissue reaction in the breast, the FDA recommends that failed silicone be removed and replaced (if desired).

  • Does medical insurance pay for breast reduction surgery?

    It may. You should check with your insurance carrier to see if they pay for breast reduction surgery. Typically, a documented course of symptoms related to large breasts (such as neck and back pain) is required before an insurance company would pay for breast reduction surgery.