What is capsular contracture?
Did you know that there is no way of telling which patients will develop capsular contracture and that it occurs in less than 5% of patients that undergo breast augmentation. After a breast augmentation or any surgery where an implant or foreign material is placed, capsular contracture is an abnormal response of the immune system reacting to the foreign material. The capsule is formed around the implant with tightly woven collagen fibers. Capsular contracture occurs when the collagen fiber tightens and squeezes the breast implant. This can be very painful and can distort the aesthetics of the breast. Capsular contracture is a result of the body’s immune system protecting itself, and believe it or not, capsular contracture may even reoccur. Although the cause of capsular contracture is unknown, factors common to its incidence include: bacterial contamination, rupture of the breast implant shell, leakage of the silicone-gel filling, and hematoma.
The following are 4 grades of capsular contracture and they are measured using the four-grade Baker scale:
• Grade I — the breast is normally soft and appears natural in size and shape.
• Grade II — the breast is a little firm, but appears normal.
• Grade III — the breast is firm and appears abnormal.
• Grade IV — the breast is hard, painful to the touch, and appears abnormal.
How to decrease your risk of capsular contracture?
Dr. Hovsepian strongly believes that surgical technique and patient compliance with aftercare can greatly decrease the risk of capsular contracture. He also believes that placing the breast implant under your pectoral muscles significantly lowers your chance of developing capsular contracture because of the constant massage that the implant receives from the muscle.
Other ways to decrease your risk for capsular contraction may include:
• Taking a prescription corticosteroid drug called prednisone for two weeks.
• Massaging your implants soon after surgery.
• Performing compression exercises in which you squeeze the implant with medium pressure to keep the capsule flexible and loose.
How to correct capsular contracture?
Grade I or grade II capsular contracture can be treated by non-surgical methods that include: ultrasound, massage, or treatment with leukotriene inhibitors such as Singulair. The correction of capsular contracture grade III or higher usually requires a capsulectomy, which is the surgical removal of the capsule surrounding the breast implant.
Capsular contracture can occur at any time frame after your surgery. If you feel like you are developing or have capsular contracture you should have a consultation regarding your options as soon as possible. If you have questions and would like a consultation with Dr. Hovsepian or more information about capsular contracture please contact us.