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What Are the Symptoms of Capsular Contracture?

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Capsular contracture is one of the most common complications that can occur following breast augmentation surgery and breast reconstruction with implants. Though it is not extremely common now, due to various factors, patients need to understand the signs and symptoms that could indicate that this is occurring and what options they have to address it.

Woman cupping her breast over a pink shirt.

What Are the Common Signs of Capsular Contracture?

Following breast augmentation surgery, your body will naturally form a “capsule” around the implant — essentially a “scar.” This is a normal part of the healing process that your body undertakes when something that is not your own tissue is in your body. It should not be equated to or visualized like a thick scar that you may have on your skin. 

This capsule is often thin and soft, and you would never know that it is there. On occasion, this capsule can become thick and shrink in dimensions, squeezing and tightening around the implant, resulting in your breast generally feeling hard or — at least — less soft than normal. There is often a distortion of the implant and even discomfort resulting from this tightening. This process is known as capsular contracture.

Early signs of capsular contracture include a tightening sensation and increased breast firmness. As the capsule tightens, it can lead to increased discomfort or pain with exercise and normal activities of daily living and distortion of the appearance of your breasts. This will also lead to increased breast asymmetry due to decreased breast width, higher position on the chest wall and increased projection.

Capsular contracture can occur at any time after the placement of the breast implants. For some patients, symptoms begin within months of the original breast augmentation, while others start years later.

If detected early on, there is a better chance that a non-surgical approach can be effective. When symptoms and firmness become more significant, the likelihood of needing surgery to address this becomes highly probable.

What Are the Causes of Capsular Contracture?

There are several possible causes of capsular contracture. One of the most widely accepted causes is a low-grade infection due to biofilm formation within the breast pocket, resulting in the gradual tightening of the capsule.

Other factors that may increase the risk of developing the condition include:

In some cases, the actual cause is not identifiable. While there is no definitive way to totally prevent capsular contracture from developing, some strategies like breast massages have been shown to reduce its occurrence.

What Are My Available Treatment Options?

If you are experiencing any signs of capsular contracture, you should schedule a consultation with Dr. Turkeltaub to evaluate your situation. With very early capsular contracture, non-operative approaches can be effective, such as taking high doses of Vitamin E and therapeutic breast compressions. For those who don’t have an adequate response to the non-operative treatment or who have significant capsular contracture, a breast revision procedure is most often required to address this issue.

The surgical procedure typically involves a capsulectomy, which is the partial or complete removal of the thickened capsule. Generally, a new implant is placed back in at the same time. Some women, for a variety of reasons, decide that they no longer want implants and opt for an explantation. 

Both of these breast revision procedures are very effective in treating the capsular contracture and associated issues. 

Needing Breast Revision? See What You Can Expect From Your Results?

If you suffer from capsular contracture, experience a different implant complication or are displeased with your breast implants and are considering breast implant removal or breast revision, check out our photo gallery to see what you may expect. 

Are You Experiencing Capsular Contracture? Restore Your Comfort Today!

Interested in learning more? Feel free to contact us today at 480-451-3000 or fill our online form to schedule your consultation with Dr. Turkeltaub.