Capsular contracture

When it comes to breast implants, one concern patients often have is capsular contracture. While it isn’t a common problem, there is a small risk it can occur when you undergo breast augmentation.

Understanding what capsular contracture is, how to prevent it, and the available treatment options is important. Whether you’re planning on getting breast implants, or if you’ve had a breast augmentation procedure and you’re worried about capsular contracture, read on to learn everything you need to know.

What is capsular contracture?

Capsular contracture is the body’s response to foreign objects, in this case, breast implants.

After implantation, the body naturally forms a protective lining around the implant, known as a capsule. This is a standard and healthy response. However, in capsular contracture, this capsule tightens and squeezes the implant, leading to various degrees of firmness, discomfort, and aesthetic changes to the breast’s appearance.

The severity of capsular contracture is categorised into four grades, commonly referred to as Baker Grades. Grade I is the mildest form, where the breast appears normal, and the capsule is flexible. Grade II involves a little firmness but still looks normal. Grade III is more severe with noticeable firmness and distortion. The most severe, Grade IV, not only includes significant firmness and distortion but also pain and tenderness.

The causes are not entirely understood, but are believed to involve factors like bacterial contamination, hematoma, and genetic predisposition.

How to prevent capsular contracture

Preventing capsular contracture begins with the choices made prior to the breast implant surgery. One of the most critical factors is choosing an experienced and qualified cosmetic surgeon.

Experienced surgeons are well-versed in the latest techniques and preventive measures that reduce the risk of capsular contracture. They can guide patients in choosing the right type and size of implants, considering their unique body type and health.

As well as the choice of surgeon, there are other preventive measures you can follow. These include the selection of implant type and texture and the placement of the implant (above or below the muscle). The use of certain surgical techniques that minimise the risk of bacterial contamination is also a factor. Each of these can be discussed with your surgeon.

Patients are also advised to follow post-operative care instructions meticulously, as proper healing plays a crucial role in prevention.

Treatment options

If capsular contracture is not treated, the scar tissue can harden, resulting in pain and tightness, and can sometimes lead to deformed breasts. However, treatment depends on its severity. For milder cases (Grade I and II), non-surgical options like physical therapy or medications may be suitable for alleviating symptoms. However, in more severe cases (Grade III and IV), surgical intervention may be required.

The most common surgical procedure is a capsulectomy, where the surgeon removes the tightened capsule. In some cases, the implant may be replaced or repositioned to prevent recurrence.

Another technique is capsulotomy, which involves scoring or cutting the capsule to release tension.

Post-surgery, you may be advised to perform certain exercises or undergo additional treatments to reduce the likelihood of recurrence. It’s important to have a thorough discussion with your surgeon about the risks and benefits of each treatment option.

If you’re worried about capsular contracture, schedule an appointment with Mr Nigel Horlock. After an initial physical assessment, he will recommend the best course of treatment.