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How is it possible for breast implants to show up on a mammogram now if I had them removed in 2005?

Q:

I had breast implants in 2003 and had them removed in 2005 - my breasts remained large.  During that time I had no mammogram until 2009 at which time I was told that my implants are still there.  I had another mammogram in January 2013 and again was informed I have implants.  How is this possible?

A:

Silicone can show up on mammograms as being very dense and light in color. If there was some residual of the silicone still there, it could leave some residue on the capsule or scar that makes it show up. This could be if there was a rupture of your implant and sometimes if there was a texture to your implant, and the silicone is still involved with your internal scar (or capsule). Most of the silicone would be removed if the capsule was removed (the scar around the implant, called a capsulectomy). Seek out an ASAPS member as your surgeon, so that you know that you have a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who does a lot of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Good luck!

Dan C. Mills, II, MD

A:

It certainly does depend on the type of breast implant you had. If the implants were saline-filled, there should be no residual implant material there after they have been removed. If your implants were silicone-gel-filled, as Dr. Mills stated, there can sometimes be some residual silicone but I would not imagine it would be enough for a radiologist to state that the implants were still present. Your best bet to clarify the situation is to obtain copies of the radiology reports and return to your board-certified plastic surgeon to discuss the findings. I wish you well.

Dr. Edwards.

M. C. Edwards, MD

A:

A possible explanation for this radiographic finding is that the capsules were not removed at the time of surgery and fluid accumulated in the space where the implants were. The thickened capsule is seen radiographically and thought to be the implant shell. This would also explain why you did not have a significant reduction in breast volume after your surgery.

An MRI would be a definitive study to determine what is actually present. I would also seek out a board certified plastic surgeon to evaluate you and help with the process.

Good luck and I hope this was helpful.

R. W. Kessler, MD

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