This is a very tough situation, and the most appropriate way to start the discussion is to take a second to recognize the tremendous courage and perseverance that women put forth towards the fight against breast cancer, and the selfless devotion of the doctors who help them win the battle.
Your decision to get breast implants in a situation like this boils down to one consideration: Will you be too worried about getting breast cancer to enjoy your fabulous new implants?
There is no scientific reason that you shouldn’t have your breasts enhanced if breast cancer runs in your family. Implants do not increase your chances of getting cancer, nor do they make it more difficult to detect breast cancer if it occurs. In fact, many doctors believe that having breast implants makes it easier for a woman to find lumps when she does her self breast exams because there is a smooth surface under the breast tissue to push against. The standard breast cancer screening methods, like mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRI’s, are all still possible with breast implants, and because more and more women are having breast augmentation surgery, radiologists are quite familiar with reading these studies with implants in place.
So, now that we’ve established that there is no scientific reason why you shouldn’t get breast implants, we’re back to our original question. Will you still be too worried about cancer to enjoy your new breasts?
If you feel that the honest answer to this question is “yes”, then you probably shouldn’t have a breast augmentation… at least not right now. Give it time, and reevaluate your answer in a few months after you’ve had a chance to give it some thought, and to prove to yourself that having implants doesn’t change your risk. The experience of having a family member with breast cancer affects everyone differently, and for some, the only thing that lessens the anxiety is time.
The only thing that changes for a woman who has a family history of breast cancer is the importance of performing regular self breast exams and getting regular mammograms after age 40-50. The actual age that you should start depends on the details of your family history, and on the source of the recommendations (American Cancer Society vs The US Preventative Services Task Force). Most plastic surgeons will recommend a “baseline” mammogram prior to any breast surgery if you have a family history, but you would still follow the recommended schedule for self exams and mammograms regardless of whether or not you have breast implants.
If you are having making a final decision, think about this. What is the most common way to reconstruct a woman’s breast after she has a mastectomy? With an implant…
Nicholas Vendemia, M.D. Plastic Surgeon, New York City MAS / Manhattan Aesthetic Surgery www.ManhattanAestheticSurgery.com
Photo Credit: iStockphoto
NOTICE: None of the celebrities or individuals discussed here have ever received treatment, surgery, medical advice, or evaluations from any author, physician, surgeon, or representative of this blog. All images and photos in this article represent models only. No actual patients or clients are shown.