Conducting monthly breast examinations is important to maintain your health even after breast augmentation. Women who perform regular self exams often find lumps in the breast earlier than women who rely on their gynecologist to detect problems during their yearly check-up. This is critical. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer found in women.
Breast Self Exams for Early Detection
Early detection is believed to be the most important predictor of a positive response to treatment for breast cancer and breast cancer survival rates. Research has shown that more than 96 percent of women who were diagnosed with breast cancer before it had spread to the the lymph nodes survived at last five years after the treatment had been completed.
Women who have had breast augmentation surgery often question if this health practice is safe for them to perform. Many worry they may rupture the implant, or that the implant will impair their ability to detect a lump. However, according to the American Cancer Association, even women with breast implants should conduct monthly breast self exams.
Know Your Breasts
It can be helpful for the surgeon who placed the implants to identify the edges of the implants for the woman so she can be certain she is examining breast tissue. In some cases, women report that after having implant surgery it is easier to conduct breast self exams since the implants push the breast tissue outward.
The technique for performing breast self exams after implant surgery is slightly different than when there are no implants. In order to perform a self exam with implants, press firmly inward at the implants edges until you feel the ribs. Take care not to squeeze or push on the implant excessively to avoid rupturing or deflating the implant. If you fear you may have accidently damaged the implant, have your surgeon check the implant as soon as possible.
The best time to perform breast self exams is when the breasts are not sore or swollen. Many professionals recommend performing monthly exams about a week after the woman’s period. When conducting a breast self exam check for any changes in breast texture, lumps, or sores. Should you find any of these symptoms, see your physician immediately to have a complete breast examination. This may include a biopsy.
See Your Doctor
If you are being examined or treated by a new physician, tell them you have implants. They will use appropriate care when performing examinations, mammograms or biopsies to prevent damaging the implants.
Depending on the size of the implants used in breast augmentation surgery, detecting changes in breast tissue or new lumps can be difficult using only self breast exams. This does not mean that women with implants should not continue to perform self exams regularly. It is also important for them to have regular exams conducted by a professional.
American Cancer Society, (n.d.). Can breast cancer be found early? Retrieved, 10/9/2013.
Always consult with a board-certifed plastic surgeon like Dr. Greg Liebscher in Colorado Springs about a cosmetic breast procedure.
Recently edited. Originally published October 25, 2013.