What is Capsular Contracture? Dr Jeremy Hunt explains…

Dr Jeremy Hunt Capsular Contracture Blog
Dr Jeremy Hunt

Capsular Contracture will develop in a small percentage of women who have breast implants. About three quarters of these will happen in the first two years after breast augmentation surgery. It can also happen as a result of implant rupture any number of years after the implants are inserted. Dr Jeremy Hunt, Plastic Surgeon from Wollongng and Edgecliff NSW, can help us understand what is capsular contracture and how to deal with it.

What is Capsular Contracture?

Capsular contracture is the hardening of the collagen layer that normally forms around a breast implant. All implants will develop a capsule, and the problem is when this capsule becomes thickened and feels firmer – this is capsular contracture. Scar tissue forms a lining around every breast implant; saline or silicone; as a natural reaction to what is a foreign material within the body. This lining is called a capsule, and it is when this capsule of scar tissue contracts and tightens onto the breast implant that capsular contracture occurs. It can be caused from a few triggers such as infection, trauma to the implant, the implant being too big without enough skin to cover it, radiation exposure and other reasons; however, sometimes the cause does not even make itself known.

There are several warning signs of capsular contracture:

  • Hardening or firming up of breasts (It can feel like you have something hard stuck in your breasts);
  • Painful breasts (especially when lying on your tummy);
  • Distortion of breast shape including rippling, collapse (appears smaller) or they appear much higher than they should;

There are four grades of capsular contracture, 1 being the lowest where the capsule may not even be contracted as of yet, 4 being the most severe where there is obvious discomfort or pain and a misshapen implant. If you are only showing signs of Grade 1 or even 2, your surgeon may not need to take any action. However, if you have any concerns that you may have capsular contracture, you should seek the advice of your plastic surgeon immediately.

Can it be avoided?

There are some things that are suggested that could make a difference when it comes to avoiding capsular contracture. Theses are: choosing textured implants; massaging the breasts regularly (especially after the breast augmentation surgery); antibiotics during surgery (this can give the body an extra boost to reduce chances of any infections occurring); minimal handling of the implants by the surgeon; surgeon technique; placing the implants under the muscle.

Dr Hunt says, “There is some evidence that textured implants can reduce the rate of capsular contracture, is there is a suggestion that placing the implant under the pectoralis muscle will also reduce the rate of capsular contracture.

There is a feeling though that the biggest factor in reducing the rate of contracture, will be that of avoiding contamination of the implant at the time of surgery with bacteria, and this has be recently described as the link between bacteria in” biofilm” and the increased rate of capsular contracture.

However, often it can be impossible to predict who will get it. It can be an individual’s response to the implant where all external factors don’t make any difference.

What is the treatment for Capsular Contracture?

Most of the time a surgeon will have to perform surgery to treat capsular contracture. This is called a capsulectomy. where the surgeon will remove the scar tissue layer that is the capsular contracture and most likely the implant will be replaced with a new one at this procedure with a new one.

The key to avoiding it is undoubtedly good surgical technique used at the time of the initial implant surgery. If capsular contracture does arise, then the opinion of a surgeon is the first step, and it can be corrected with the appropriate surgical procedure called a capsulectomy, with the implant being replaced at the same time

If you need more information about capsular contracture we suggest you arrange a consultation with your surgeon to discuss your individual circumstances.

Further Reading about Breast Augmentation

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