During October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, breast cancer prevention and treatment are discussed in magazines, on television, and beyond. An important consideration for women who have already been diagnosed with or treated for breast cancer is what to do if mastectomy (the removal of one or both breasts) is part of the treatment plan. Many women successfully have their breasts reconstructed with breast implants after breast cancer treatment and mastectomy, which is a procedure commonly known as breast reconstruction.
While you may have many questions about the safety of breast implants after mastectomy, there are three questions that seem to come up over and over:
Will implants prevent my doctor from detecting a breast cancer recurrence?
It will be important to discuss the possibility of breast cancer recurrence with your doctor, but during the discussion, your doctor should also teach you how to perform a self-breast exam with implants. In addition, your doctor should discuss his or her plan for monitoring your health, including monitoring for any cancer recurrence. Breast implants have clinically been shown to not interfere with detecting future cancers. However, if you have a mammogram or other imaging of your chest, be sure that the technologist and physician involved in your mammogram or other radiologic studies know that you have a history of breast cancer and have implants in place so that they may make appropriate adjustments in performing your test and reading the images.
Will implants cause my breast cancer to return?
At one time there was concern that silicone breast implants might add to the risk of developing certain types of cancer. In fact, the concern was great enough that silicone implants were taken off the market for several years while their safety was studied and improved silicone implants were designed. There is no evidence that breast implants, whether silicone or saline, increase the risk of breast cancer returning.
Will breast implants interfere with radiation therapy?
Breast cancer patients who undergo radiation therapy should take caution prior to undergoing breast reconstruction with implants. For these patients, it may be advisable to delay implant surgery until after radiation therapy is completed. Some risks increase when radiation therapy is performed with breast implants in place. Be sure to discuss these with your doctor if radiation therapy is part of your treatment plan.
An overview of breast implants
Breast implants after breast cancer aim to restore your breasts to a natural look and feel, preserving or restoring your appearance and sense of femininity. Breast implants are either silicone- or saline-filled, and are available in a variety of sizes, shapes, and profiles to match your natural silhouette. During your initial consultation, you will have the opportunity to see and feel several different implants. Some factors to consider are:
Silicone or saline
Silicone implants are filled with soft, flexible silicone gel in a silicone shell. Saline implants are filled with a salt water solution (saline) that is similar to the body’s natural fluids. Both are considered safe by the FDA and manufactured according to strict regulations to ensure continued safety.
Both silicone and saline implants are available in a number of sizes, measured in ccs (cubic centimeters). The number of ccs refers to the amount of silicone or saline in the implant. However, these measurements do not necessarily correlate to bra cup size. Most women find a moderately sized implant to be ideal.
The profile of the implants refers to how far forward the breasts will project off of the chest wall. A higher profile implant will project further forward than a lower profile implant.
Silicone implants are available in round or teardrop shapes, while saline implants are either round or contoured. Teardrop and contoured implants may provide a more gentle slope to the appearance of the breasts; however, they may not be the best option for all patients.
Your breast health is important to Monarch Plastic Surgery. When determining your breast cancer treatment options, particularly reconstruction after mastectomy, please call Monarch Plastic Surgery at (913) 663-3838 for our Leawood and Lansing locations or (816) 436-3262 for our North Kansas City location.