Breast Augmentation is generally a safe procedure that produces excellent results. Most women enjoy increased confidence and enjoyment of wearing different types of clothing that enhances their curvy new form. However, some patients develop a problem called capsular contracture, which can cause deformity and discomfort.
What is Capsular Contracture?
Capsular contracture occurs when the fibrous tissue in the breast react to the foreign substance of the breast implant. Collagen tissue develops around the implant, encapsulating it, and in some patients, this tissue growth can cause problems. The condition is believed to occur due to the normal bacteria that exist in the body. Generally, the tissue that forms around the implant is thin and wispy, but in some patients, the tissue may become hard and tight, creating differences in the shape and contour of the affected breast. In some cases, the growth of the fibrous tissue can become painful.
Symptoms of Capsular Contracture
When capsular contracture occurs, it is diagnosed in terms of “stages” of severity, such as:
- Grade I – Some tissue has formed, but the breast remains soft maintains its natural shape
- Grade II – The breast may feel firmer than normal, but continues to look natural
- Grade III – The breast feels firm, but begins to look abnormal, but without pain.
- Grade IV – The breast feels hard, is painful to the touch and develops an abnormal shape.
Who Is At Risk for this Condition?
Capsular contracture occurs in only 5 percent of breast implant cases. Studies indicate that the condition is most likely to occur in certain individuals:
- Patients who smokeChoosing the right size implant can help to avoid this condition.
- Patients with autoimmune disorders
- Patients who experience trauma to the breast
- Patients who develop a hematoma
- Patients who have had radiation therapy
- Patients who have bacterial infections
- Patients who have experienced an implant leak
What Is Capsular Contracture Treated?
- Surgery to remove or separate the hard, fibrous tissue, the standard treatment for capsular contracture.
- Breaking up the fibrous tissue, without surgery, can sometimes improve this condition.
- Prescription medications, such as Accolate, a medication used in allergy treatment that has been found to be helpful in capsular contracture.
- Ultrasound that helps to soften the capsule with soundwaves
- Vitamin E and steroid injections
What You Can Do To Reduce Your Risk
The best action you can take is to avoid the development of enscapsulation around the implant. A number of measure are recommended:
- Evidence indicates the sub-muscular placement of the implant, instead of sub-glandular placement. Patients should choose this type of surgery to avoid capsular contracture.
- Choosing the right size implant can help to avoid this condition.
- Getting sufficient rest after implant surgery can help to reduce the risk of contracture because it avoids bleeding that can contribute to the condition.
- Ensure that your surgeon is a board-certified breast augmentation specialist and that the hospital has a good record of infection control. These measures can reduce your risk for capsular contracture.
- Don’t smoke. Your physician will advise you to stop smoking before your surgery, and you should avoid smoking until you are fully recovered from the procedure. Capsular contracture is twice as likely in smokers than in non-smokers.
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