The Truth About Dense Breasts, Implants and Mammograms

A doctor reviews the results of an imaging test.
Choose the health content that's right for you, and get it delivered right in your inbox

If you’ve been told that you have dense breasts, you might still wonder what this means for your health. And if you are a woman with breast implants, you might also question how this affects your mammograms and breast health.

Here's what you need to know.

Dense Breasts

Women’s breasts are composed of many different tissues, including fat, ligaments, glands and others. Dense breasts occur when a woman has a high ratio of ligaments and glands compared to fat in her breasts. If a woman has a high ratio of fat compared to everything else, the breasts are considered to be “fatty.”

Although sometimes associated with age, breast density is more commonly tied to genetics.

Some concern exists around dense breasts being an increased risk factor for breast cancer but the challenge is in obtaining clear mammography images for early diagnosis.

Think of it this way:

If you are looking through a clear piece of glass, it is easy to see what’s on the other side. This is equivalent to having a fatty breast. However, if you look through a frosted piece of glass, it’s hard to tell what lies behind it. This is what happens with dense breasts.

Some states even have laws that require imaging centers to notify women if they have dense breasts in their mammogram results letters.

Once this notification is received, women with dense breasts can choose to explore additional screenings. This can help put your mind at ease by adding another level of breast cancer surveillance.

Breast Implants

Implants can make imaging all of the breast tissue through a mammogram more challenging. Age and placement of the implant can cause some of the breast tissue to be obscured in the mammogram images.

Regardless of if you have implants or not, mammograms are still the safest and most recommended breast cancer screening measure. But again, for the clearest idea of what's going on, women with implants with have eight mammogram images taken.

The mammogram technologist will take four images (two of each breast) as a standard mammogram, and then four additional pictures while gently manipulating the implant to image the breast tissue around it.

Support at Every Step

No matter what turns your breast health journey takes, AdventHealth is your beacon for support and expert breast health care.

  • This is why we want to make it easier for you to get your annual mammogram. If you are age 40 and over, have not had any breast symptoms, and have not had a mammogram in the last year, you do not need a physician’s order to get a screening mammogram. Learn more and schedule your mammogram today.

Recent Blogs

Older female patient looking at a document with her nurse
Blog
Osteoporosis and Bone Density: Who Needs the Screening and When?
Physician with Patient
Blog
International Clinical Trials Day
Blog
Your Essential Guide to Cancer Screenings by Age
Applying sunscreen to child
Blog
Sunscreen: Most Frequently Missed Areas
Blog
Mental Health Emergencies: When to go to the ER
View More Articles