The Harley Medical Group

Breast Health Advice

Breast health is a serious subject and as such we're approaching it with the gravity it deserves.

You may call them ‘boob’s, ‘tits’, ‘the girls’, ‘buds’ or ‘tatas’ (actually Mum’s Lounge identified 300 names for them) it is safe to say that breasts are generally a worldwide obsession.

Whether it’s social media controversy for showing a female nipple – which is different from a male nipple how?.. don’t get us started on that one! – nurturing a baby, looking fabulous in an outfit (or out of one!) or as an intimate part of your relationship there is no getting away from them. So we thought we would write a number of articles talking about a popular, controversial and sometimes painful part of life, based on your questions and our knowledge… and we do know a lot!

We’re also going to look at:

If we’ve missed anything out that you want to know that we haven’t covered tweet us and we’ll get our experts on it!

Also we highly recommend checking out our blog by Medical Director Simon Smith about safe surgery and why going abroad may not be your best option (*spoiler alert* it’s dangerous)

Breast Cancer: self-check

A few facts about breast cancer:

  • It's not just for women as men can also get breast cancer, though it is of course far more common in women.
    • 370 men are diagnosed each year in the UK (compared to around 62,000 women).
  • Risk of developing breast cancer increases from 50 years old
  • One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in the world.
  • Only 5-10% of diagnosed cases are hereditary in nature
  • 40% of diagnosed cancers are detected by self examination
  • If found and treated early there is a 95% likelihood of recovery

The best time to do a monthly self-breast exam is about 3 days after your period finishes. Your breasts are not as tender or lumpy at this point in your monthly cycle. You should examine your breasts at least once a month and at the same time every month for consistency. If you have gone through the menopause,or do not menstruate, doyour exam on the same day every month, for example the 1st. We recommend keeping a journal to record any natural changes in the breast.

How to perform your breast self-examination

You should be looking for:

  • Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and colour
  • Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling
  • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
  • A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)
  • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
  • Asymmetrical ridges at the bottom of the breast


Step one: Checking for changes in front of the mirror

Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arm by your side

Then look at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arm by your side on your hips.

Next look at your breasts in the mirror with your arms raised above your head.

Finally rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women's breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.

Step two: Check the nipple

While you're at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out and lumps.

Squeeze the nipple using light, medium or firm pressure. Repeat this on both breasts.

Step Three: in the shower

The water and soap in the shower will allow your fingers to glide easily over your skin.

Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, not the tips, keeping the fingers flat and together.

Put one arm over your head while massaging your breast with the other hand and use circular motions approximately the size of ten pence piece.

Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.

A popular technique is to move the fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn.

Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. When you've reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your ribcage.


Step Four: Lying down

When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall.

Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head and use circular motions approximately the size of a ten pence piece.

As with step three follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast  from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.

Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for to check the skin and tissue just beneath.


For optimum breast health

You must know your breast and what is normal for you, look at your breasts and feel them. Know what changes to look for and attend routine screening if you're 50 or over.

Visit your GP immediately if you notice any of the following:

  • A change in the size, outline or shape of your breast
  • A change in the look or feel of your skin, such as puckering or dimpling
  • A new lump, thickening or bumpy area in one breast or armpit that is different from the same area on the other side
  • Nipple discharge that's not milky
  • Bleeding from your nipple
  • A moist, red area on your nipple that doesn't heal easily
  • Any change in nipple position, such as your nipple being pulled in or pointing differently
  • A rash on or around your nipple
  • Any discomfort or pain in one breast, particularly if it's a new pain and doesn't go away (although pain is only a symptom of breast cancer in rare cases)

Breast Implant Safety

The first breast enlargement surgery was performed in 1962 and naturally there were concerns about placing a prosthetic within the body. However, by 2006 after extensive testing and reviewing the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) approved silicone and saline breast implants. Since that first operation figures indicate that up to 10 million breast enlargement procedures have been performed worldwide.

While studies have not found evidence that breast implants, either silicone gel or saline, are connected with serious disease, there are still risks. There are also long-term implications. Here are some of the breast implant safety issues that you need to consider before undertaking surgery.



The most common causes of implant rupture are human error during surgery, trauma or implant defect.

  • Human error: this is the fault of the surgeon and will happen during surgery if the implant is nicked with a surgical instrument. Even with an experienced breast enlargement surgeon can damage an implant., but If this rare occurrence was to happen . An experienced surgeon will notice any issues before suturing and will address them by removing the damaged implant and re-implanting the correct replacement. Surgeons with less experience may not detect the damage and complete surgery without replacing the implant, requiring further surgery later. So it's always a good idea to understand your surgeon's credentials and level of experience.
  • Trauma: implant rupture through trauma can occur for various reasons including a car accident, or a needle puncture during a biopsy as an example. If you have had trauma to the chest and are concerned about your implants you can arrange an MRI scan to check they are fully intact.
  • Implant defect: this occurs during the manufacturing process where the implant shell is not evenly made. Our Mentor breast implants are both FDA approved and CE marked, and have over 20 years of clinical data demonstrating their safety. Mentor is the only implant manufacturer that has an automated machine to dip the shell to ensure shell thickness is consistent for all three layers and human error removed. And because the shell is not salt or hand brushed like most other implants, salt dip leads to inconsistencies in the texturing, all Mentor implants are like-for-like worldwide. In addition each batch made is tested for consistency and excellence

Capsular Contracture

Capsular contracture is the most common complication following breast implant surgery and is one of the most common reasons for the need to re-operate. Following surgery, the body forms a protective capsule of fibrous scar tissue around the implant, which it recognises as a foreign object. This tissue capsule is usually soft or slightly firm and not noticeable, it helps to keep the implant in place. In some women however, a tissue capsule forms that is unusually hard and dense. The capsule tightens around and squeezes the implant, this condition is called capsular contracture. Capsular contracture can cause chronic pain and distortion in the shape of the breast, it can also make the breast rise higher on the chest. Signs of capsular contracture, such as increasing firmness or tightness in the breast, can start to appear as early as a few months after your breast enlargement surgery or even years later.

Mentor has developed a process to reduce the risk of capsular contracture. The implant shell is vulcanised, which means no glue or adhesive is used to make the implant. As there is no seal on the implant so the risk of rupture and capsular contracture is significantly reduced, and this process is so successful it's been patented!


ALCL stands for Anaplastic large cell lymphoma, the full title is Breast Implant Associate Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), and is an extremely rare cancerous tumour that can potentially grow around breast implants.

The occurrence of ALCL affects is estimated at 1 in 24,000 breast implants (Source: Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) July 2018).It usually appears with a sudden swelling in the breast surrounding an implant, although it can present with a mass. It usually happens many years after the implants have been placed, an average of 8 years.

Women who have implants already, certainly should not be alarmed, but  if they get a sudden swelling in their breasts, they should seek a  referral from their GP to their local breast unit, who will follow  guidelines set down by the Association of Breast Surgery (ABS) to ensure that there is no underlying serious cause for it. Most cases are easily treated by having the implant removed, along with the capsule that surrounds it (total capsulectomy).

Patient safety has been and always will be our priority which is why we recommend Mentor implants.  MENTOR® Breast Implants are backed by substantial clinical data demonstrating safety and effectiveness in patients having undergone primary and revisionary augmentation and reconstruction surgeries. Mentor continues to support ongoing inquiries into the association of ALCL and breast implants.


Some patients with breast implants have reported a range of systemic symptoms which they refer to as breast implant  illness.  Manufacturers track and monitor the systemic symptoms reported to them and report them to the proper regulatory authorities. Whilst the current body of scientific evidence does not support claims that breast implants cause systemic illness, the FDA, in partnership with industry and medical and plastic surgery societies, is taking steps to better characterise the set of conditions and its risk factors and researchers are working to understand the origins of the symptoms.


Please remember that while our articles are accurate at the time of writing information does change and if you have any questions please come in and meet a member of our team for a free, no obligation, chat. And if you have any concerns about your breast health please seek medical advice immediately.



Breast Cancer Care - retrieved August 2019

John Hopkins Medical Centre Breast Care - retreived August 2019

NHS - retreived August 2019

Posted July 18, 2020
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