How to Recognize Capsular Contracture
For most patients, a breast implant surgery involves minimal complications. A common occurrence (which is becoming less common with advanced techniques and modern technology) is a capsular contracture, which is when scar tissue forms in and around the implant. The feeling of a hardened breast, with or without pain, is a reason to further investigate for a capsular contracture.
What Causes a Capsular Contracture?
Currently, there is no hard evidence as to why a capsular contracture happens, but it is believed to be an immune response. When a foreign object is placed in the body (i.e. an implant), a capsule is formed around that object. For most, this capsule remains thin and does not affect the implant. For some, this capsule tightens around the implant, causing it to feel very firm and look distorted.
Identifying a Capsular Contracture
As mentioned earlier, the most obvious sign of a capsular contracture is a tight-feeling breast. This can occur in one breast or both, and can happen soon following the procedure or 10 years after the surgery. Universally, plastic surgeons use a grading scale to determine the condition of the implant.
– Grade I: The breast is of natural shape, size, and softness.
– Grade II: Slight firmness in the breast, however it appears normal in shape.
– Grade III: The breast is firm and there are abnormalities.
– Grade IV: The breast is hardened, may be painful, and has obvious abnormalities.
For patients that have had a breast augmentation, it’s important to pay attention to your body. Self-checks for firmness and symmetry in the breasts should be added to your routine following the operation.
Preventing Capsular Contracture
Modern advancements in plastic surgery, including sub-muscular positioning of the implants, higher quality implants, and a better understanding of capsular contracture, help surgeons take steps toward preventing capsular contracture.
Treating Capsular Contracture
The most common reason for a breast revision procedure is capsular contracture. There are non-surgical options available, depending on the ‘grade’ of the situation and the patient. An in-person consultation is needed to determine the best solution. If a breast revision surgery is recommended, both the capsular contracture and the affected implant are removed and a new implant is placed in the body.