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Capsular Contracture: What Are The Signs and How Can I Avoid It?

Women's breasts of different sizes on grey background, plastic surgery and aesthetic medicine concept

Problems from breast augmentation are uncommon. They do, however, happen from time to time, especially if the enhancement is done with implants. If treated early, such issues can typically be repaired and do not cause long-term difficulties. As a result, it is critical to recognize the indications and symptoms that may suggest a problem with your breast implants. 

One of the most common complications of breast implant surgery is capsular contracture. In this article, we'll evaluate the signs of capsular contracture and how you can avoid it.

What Exactly is Capsular Contracture?

Capsular contracture is an uncommon but possible consequence of breast augmentation with implants. While capsular contracture can occur with silicone or saline breast implants, the incidence is slightly higher in silicone breast implants. 

When a foreign material is implanted, the body naturally creates a harmless capsule of scar tissue around it. Scar tissue, in most cases, stays soft and flexible. Sometimes, however, it will grow too stiff and begin to squeeze the implant. This tissue is known as capsular contracture. Patients with capsular contracture typically experience symptoms within the first several months up to around two years after the procedure, but it can develop anytime.

What is the Cause of Capsular Contracture?

Capsular contracture does not necessarily have a clear cause. However, it is sometimes suspected to be connected with a bacterial infection. Capsular contracture can arise in other patients for no apparent reason. While capsular contracture can occur in any woman with breast implants, various factors may increase the likelihood of this issue developing, including:

  1. Bacterial contamination during surgery

  2. Implant rupture or leakage 

  3. Breast injury

  4. Certain autoimmune conditions

  5. Complications following surgery

  6. Surgical blunder

  7. Excessively large implants

  8. Implant insertion on top of the muscle

  9. Smoking after surgery

  10. Bleeding during surgery 

  11. Blood accumulation around the implant (hematoma)

Symptoms and Characteristics of Capsular Contracture

Capsular contracture signs tend to appear gradually over time, making it difficult to detect the issue early if you don't know what to look for. Early indicators of capsular contracture include a stiff or tight sensation, discomfort, or asymmetry. As the condition worsens, you may notice more noticeable symptoms such as:

  • Breast pain or discomfort 

  • Asymmetry or distortion of the breasts

  • Firmness 

  • Tightness

  • Round or ball-shaped breasts

  • High-riding breasts

  • Ripples or wrinkles on the breasts 

The severity of capsular contracture can vary from mild to severe. In some cases, it may cause no symptoms at all. If you experience any symptoms that you feel are related to capsular contracture or another breast implant issue, contact your surgeon straight away to be evaluated and discover your alternatives.

Common Capsular Contracture-Related Questions 

Is capsular contracture common?

Yes, capsular contracture is a common complication of breast implant surgery. It occurs in about 10 percent of women who have breast implant surgery.

Can capsular contracture be treated?

Several treatments are available for capsular contracture, including massage, medication, and surgery.

Will I need to have my implants removed if I develop capsular contracture?

Not necessarily. In mild cases of capsular contracture, massage and medication may be enough to alleviate symptoms. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the scar tissue or replace the implant.

How to Prevent Capsular Contracture

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent capsular contracture, there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk:

  1. Choose a qualified and experienced surgeon: Make sure your surgeon is board-certified and has extensive breast implant surgery experience.

  2. Follow post-operative instructions: Your surgeon will provide detailed instructions on caring for your breasts after surgery. Follow these instructions carefully to minimize your risk of complications.

  3. Massage your breasts: Gentle breast massage can help prevent the formation of scar tissue around the implant. Make sure your surgeon approves of these massages before performing them, however. 

  4. Avoid smoking: Smoking can interfere with healing and increase your risk of complications.

  5. Choose the right implant: Discuss your options with your surgeon and choose an appropriate one for your body type and lifestyle.

  6. Avoid implants altogether: Most patients have enough harvestable fat to receive a fat transfer breast enhancement instead of implants. Fat transfers provide a more natural look and feel while avoiding the risks of capsular contracture and other implant-related side effects. 

There's No Risk of Capsular Contracture with Fat Transfer

Fat transfer procedures do not run the risk of capsular contracture because no foreign, synthetic objects, such as saline implants, are used for augmentation.

AirSculpt® specializes in delivering fantastic body contouring results with your own natural fat. Whether removing fat or transferring it to another area of the body, AirSculpt® is a minimally invasive solution, as it uses no general anesthesia or artificial implants.

The AirSculpt® Up a Cup™ does not even require scalpels, stitches, or needles. Our automated devices allow for a precise and delicate fat extraction method, which preserves the quality of the fat being transferred. This added benefit improves the viability of the material used during a transfer, which minimizes the amount of natural reabsorption that occurs afterward. 

Compared to traditional liposuction or implants, AirSculpt® procedures have a much shorter downtime, with most patients returning to their daily routines within 48 hours.

AirSculpt® Is Ready To Help After Implant Removal 

Capsular contracture is a common complication of breast implant surgery that can cause various symptoms, from mild discomfort to severe pain and distortion of the breast shape. 

If you develop capsular contracture, several treatments are available, including massage, medication, and surgery. The best course of treatment will depend on the severity of your symptoms and your personal preferences.

If you are picking between implants and a fat transfer, Elite Body Sculpture offers Orange County residents a natural fat grafting treatment. We are confident patients will prefer the soft, supple feel and look that fat transfers provide over implants.

AirSculpt® technology also enables patients to transfer fat to their breasts after implants are removed. Doing so can restore symmetry and fullness to patients dealing with symptoms related to capsular contracture. 

Patients in Orange County can contact our Irvine body contouring office or one of our 25+ locations worldwide to schedule a complimentary consultation with our body sculpting experts.


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