One concern that breast augmentation patients have is capsular contracture. This article addresses these concerns for the patient. What is capsular contracture, and when does it occur after breast augmentation.
Capsular contracture is a thickening of scar tissue around the implant. It is not inherently dangerous but it is not a desirable condition for the following two reasons:
- Capsular contraction is not aesthetically pleasing;
- Capsular contraction may cause pain or discomfort.
What causes capsular contracture?
Let’s begin this discussion by addressing what does not cause capsular contracture. Capsular contracture is not necessarily due to the surgeons error; nor is it due to the “type” or “choice” of implant used. Capsular contracture is typically caused by the patients genetics. If the patient has a tendency to form thick scar tissue, or heal poorly, then capsular contracture is more likely. If the patient has a family history of forming thick scar tissue or poor wound healing then, again, capsular contraction is more likely. In extremely rare cases, capsular contraction can also be a bacterial response. Biofilm is a thin layer of bacteria that develops around implants after a type of bacteria (often staph bacteria) is introduced to the breast cavity during surgery. This bacterium causes a kind of chronic, low-grade infection that may not produce noticeable symptoms (such as fever or severe fatigue). However, as the body combats this infection, it produces more and more fibrous scar tissue, eventually leading to capsular contracture. A rupture in the implant can also cause capsular contracture.
How to prevent Capsular Contracture:
By understanding what causes capsular contraction, we can work to avoid its occurrence. Patients with a high degree of scar tissue after wound healing are advised not to get plastic surgery. In the alternative, patients with a history of thick scar tissue after wound healing who do wish to proceed with breast augmentation need to be advised of the risks associated. In the event that the patient does opt for the breast augmentation, the surgeon may choose to go through the underarm, for example, instead of through the nipple or under the breast, so that the scar is less noticeable.
What happens to the breast during capsular contracture.
During capsular contracture scar tissue forms around the implant. The scar tissue becomes unusually hard changing the desired look and feel of the breast.