After breast augmentation, it’s common for some scar tissue to develop around the implants. The scar tissue is known as the capsule and it holds the implant separate from the rest of the body.
In the majority of cases, this scar tissue isn’t a problem. For some patients, though, a condition known as capsular contracture can develop. Capsular contracture can cause a hefty amount of pain and discomfort, and in extreme cases, breast deformity. While there’s no 100 percent fool-proof way to prevent it, there are things you can do to reduce the chance of it happening after breast augmentation.
What is Capsular Contracture?
You might be able to guess what capsular contracture is just by breaking down its name. The condition develops when the capsule of scar tissue contracts around the implant.
The capsule squeezes the implant, causing it to change shape. In some cases, the implant becomes hard because of the additional pressure on it.
The good news about the issue is that it’s not very common. Estimates have it occurring in anywhere from five to 10 percent of cases. While contracture can develop at any point in time, it’s most likely to occur within the first two years after breast augmentation.
Capsular contracture has four levels, or grades. In the first stage, the breast implants look and feel normal. By the fourth, or most advanced, grade, the implants feel hard and look deformed. The breasts are also painful in the most advanced stage.
How to Reduce Your Risk for Capsular Contracture
Capsular contracture can be difficult to predict and impossible to fully prevent. But you can take some preventative measures, both during and after breast surgery, to keep it from developing.
First things first, it pays to work with an experienced breast surgeon. You should choose a plastic surgeon who has extensive knowledge and understanding of the breasts and chest area. He or she should understand the risks of contracture and know how to reduce them.
Second, the placement of the implant can influence the risk of contracture. There are two ways to position the implant in the breasts — either under the muscle or on top of it. Putting the implant under the muscle can help to reduce the size of the scar tissue that develops and can help keep the scar tissue from growing out of control.
A clean surgical setting is also a must to reduce the risk of infection during placement. Your surgeon might administer antibiotics just before surgery and have you take a course of antibiotics afterward to lower the risk of infection.
The size of the implant you choose can also influence whether you are at a high risk of developing capsular contracture or not. Depending on the size of your breasts, a very large implant can cause the skin to stretch, increasing the chance of contracture. There are also issues with choosing an implant that is too large for your frame.
How frequently the implant is handled before and during insertion can increase or decrease the risk of capsular contracture. The more the implant is handled, the more likely it is to pick up bacteria or other infectious agents. There are ways of performing breast augmentation that involve barely touching the implant.
Exercises After Breast Augmentation
After breast augmentation, your surgeon will show you how to perform a series of implant exercises to help keep the pocket around the implant open and loose and to reduce the risk of contracture. It’s important to perform the exercises as directed, for as long and as often as directed for best results.
Your plastic surgeon should work with you to help minimize the chance that capsular contracture will develop. Although you can’t guarantee that the issue won’t occur, you can take several steps to reduce the risk.
To learn more about capsular contracture and to find answers to any other questions you might have about breast augmentation and implants, get in touch with Dr. Paul Vitenas, in Houston, Texas. Dr. Vitenas is a top-rated, board certified plastic surgeon who specializes in breast surgeries. To schedule your consultation, call 281-484-0088 today.