Have you had breast augmentation surgery with implants and suspect you may have capsular contracture? Do you have reservations regarding breast enhancement in fear of capsular contracture? We break it all down – top to bottom.
If you received breast augmentation surgery with breast implants or considering undergoing the widely popular bust-enhancing procedure, you should rest assured that a very high percentage of these procedures go smoothly without there ever being any complications. However, difficulties will arise every now and again, naturally. While still rare, the most common side effect of breast augmentation with implant is known as capsular contracture. Luckily, there are innovative and effective ways to resolve the condition that includes the removal of scar tissue, and sometimes, the replacement of the affected breast implant to eliminate the pain, pressure, and disfigurement notably associated with the condition. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Capsular Contracture?
In a nutshell, capsular contracture occurs when an adverse and abnormal amount of scar tissue envelops one or both breast implants, causing discomfort and deformity. Here’s how it happens, how you can treat it effectively, and the steps you can take to prevent the condition from taking shape in the first place.
Understanding Capsular Contracture: How Does it Happen?
Capsular contracture is a direct response from the body’s immune system, signaling something within the body has gone awry and needs immediate attention, such as is the case with breast implants, pacemakers, artificial joint prosthetics, etc. As a result, scar tissue will begin to form around the foreign entity, developing a painful, hardened capsule. Breast implants affected by capsular contracture will begin to develop sharp, protruding edges and create a physically unpleasant tightening sensation. It’s important to note all breast implants will eventually develop scar tissue, however, it’s when scar tissue continues to advance that it becomes a cause for concern, requiring immediate medical attention. While capsular contracture can occur at any time following breast augmentation surgery, most capsular contracture incidents occur within 4-6 weeks post-op and are more likely to affect those women who have received silicone-based breast implants, as the body has an innate ability to safely process saline-based substances that enter the body. Late-stage capsular contracture can also occur in the event an implant suffers a rupture, causing a negative response from the immune system.
Capsular Contracture Symptoms
The following signs are indicative of capsular contracture:
- Unusually firm feeling in the affected implant
- A painful, tight sensation
- Asymmetry between the breasts
- Implant moves upward in a high-riding position on the chest
- Breasts are hard and tender to the touch
- Rupture has occurred that may or may not be visible
Can You Fix Capsular Contracture Without Surgery?
The short answer is yes, though this is contingent on each patient’s individual ailment. For instance, if a patient’s capsular contracture is in the very early stages, conservative treatment may be employed, such as aggressive massage or manipulation to help break up the debilitating scar tissue and encourage the body to accept the implant. However, this doesn’t always do the trick and more aggressive measures may be needed to relieve painful symptoms and restore beauty and symmetry to the breasts, such as:
- Closed capsulotomy – A noninvasive technique where manual compression is applied to break scar tissue. No new implants are needed.
- Open capsulectomy – Invasive approach where scar tissue is surgically removed, and a new implant is inserted.
- En Bloc Removal – Both the old implant and surrounding scar tissue are removed simultaneously as a single unit. This aggressive method is mostly employed when scar tissue buildup is a result of bacteria or a silicone implant rupture.
How to Avoid Capsular Contracture
Undergoing breast enhancement is one of the biggest and most personal decisions a woman can make regarding her body’s feminine aesthetic and beauty, and she should be pleased with how she looks and feels following such a cosmetic commitment. Breasts should be supple, soft, and as natural-looking as possible. And, while not every complication can be avoided, there are ways to help drastically reduce their incidence. One of the most effective ways a woman can reduce her chances of developing capsular contracture is to literally take matters into her own hands by performing daily, ritual massage sessions on both breasts for the first few months following her breast augmentation procedure. This not only is soothing, but it encourages vulnerable breast tissue to remain malleable and be receptive to the new implants. Additionally, avoiding rigorous physical activity in the early months of recovery following breast augmentation will allow the new implants to properly settle and drop into place, preventing tears and ruptures that could lead to a capsular contracture situation down the line.
Do You Need Capsular Contracture Removal?
If you underwent breast augmentation surgery with implants and are suffering from any of the following symptoms, you may be a good candidate for capsular contracture removal/capsular contracture treatment:
- Breasts are hard to the touch and painful
- Breasts are asymmetrical or off-center
- You can detect a visible rupture
- One or both implants sit abnormally high on the chest
If you suspect any or all of the above, we encourage you to contact our Beverly Hills plastic surgery office to speak with any one of our compassionate, highly skilled staff members to help answer your questions and to set up a personal consultation with leading breast augmentation specialist, Dr. Daniel Barrett. Dr. Barrett indicates that while capsular contracture can occur at any time, it is a complication he encounters at a much lower rate with his patients due to his fastidious surgical techniques during the initial implant insertion. However, his urgency for exploring viable treatment options early on will help to significantly reduce the recurrence of the condition. Incisions are inconspicuously placed, such as in natural folds of the skin, for imperceptibility and minimal subsequent scarring. Patients should prepare for at least two weeks of recovery time from their capsular contracture removal process with noticeable improvement within 7-10 days.
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