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Capsular Contracture After Breast Augmentation

Posted October 28, 2010 in Breast Asymmetry, Breast Augmentation, Breast Implants, Uncategorized

Capsular Contracture Surgeon in Orange County

Breast augmentation is an extremely popular procedure for good reason: most women are very happy with their results, and with their decision to undergo this surgery. One of the conditions that can lead to dissatisfaction is capsular contracture, although this too can often be treated and improved.

Capsular Contracture Orange CountyThe human body will naturally form a membrane or tissue layer around any foreign object. We call the layer that forms around a saline breast implant or silicone breast implant the “capsule.” There is always a capsule around any breast implant, but usually the capsule remains thin and soft. Occasionally, the capsule tightens and thickens, or “contracts,” around the implant. This can cause the implant, and the breast, to feel too hard. Capsular contracture can push an implant out of its proper position, creating a breast asymmetry. It can also produce an abnormal breast shape, or a very unnatural appearance to the breasts. At times, capsular contracture can be painful.

The cause of capsular contracture is not fully understood, despite extensive research on this topic. Certain factors that increase the likelihood of developing capsular contracture have been identified, however. Excessive bleeding around the implants immediately after surgery, touching the implants with gloves that are coated with powder, and patient smoking are some of these factors. Some surgeons believe that, if a breast implant is placed in front of the muscle, a textured implant may have a lower contracture rate than a smooth implant. Some surgeons also recommend massaging the implants after surgery, although it’s not established that implant massage makes a measurable difference. Clearly, there are things that your surgeon can do, and things that you can do (avoid smoking!), to decrease the chances of a capsular contracture.

Even when all precautions are taken, however, some women will still develop capsular contractures. As a plastic surgeon specializing in breast augmentation and breast revision surgery, I frequently treat patients for this problem. A “capsulectomy” is a surgical procedure that involves cutting out the capsule and scar tissue, leaving behind soft breast tissue. It’s basically like starting over. Some women may again develop a capsular contracture after the capsulectomy, but many will not. It’s very important to avoid smoking if you are undergoing a capsulectomy. Some surgeons prescribe a medication called Singulair when operating on a patient with a capsular contracture. This is actually a medication for asthma, but many doctors believe that a beneficial “side effect” of Singulair is a reduced rate of capsular contracture. When undergoing a capsulectomy, the implants may also be replaced, so that they are brand new, with no wear or bacteria. The implant size can be changed too if desired. Sometimes, the capsular contracture may be holding the implants and breasts up, giving a perky appearance even though the breasts are too hard. Once the scar tissue is removed, the breasts may look more ptotic, or droopy. To counteract this, it may be helpful to use a larger implant, or to include a mastopexy, or breast lift.

To give yourself the best chances for a great outcome after breast augmentation, or to obtain treatment if you’ve already developed a capsular contracture, it’s critical that you consult a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the only organization that board certifies fully trained and experienced plastic surgeons. I treat patients with capsular contracture (and other problems after breast augmentation) from throughout Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County and elsewhere. If you’d like to schedule a consultation to meet with me, either for a first-time breast augmentation or a revision surgery, please call my Newport Beach area office at 714-835-6500. Please also visit my website for more information: