Breast augmentation surgery is the best way to give your breasts your desired shape. While this surgery is not time-consuming or risky, it might cause some problems if you don't follow your surgeon's guidelines. One of the major complications of the surgery is capsular contracture. Like any other health condition, it can be painful and extremely uncomfortable. This is why, once you observe any signs, you need to get it treated as soon as possible.
Once your surgeon places the breast implant, fibrous scar tissues start to generate around it, which leads to a tissue capsule which acts a a protective capsule around the implant. This tissue capsule is slightly firm and soft, and typically it is unnoticeable. It also helps your implant to stay in a single position.
However, in some females, tissue capsules present near the implant becomes unexpectedly dense and hard. As a result, the capsule tightens around, squeezing the implant. This condition is known as the capsular contracture. Unfortunately, these problems can lead to distortion in the shape and chronic pain in the breast. You will also observe that your breast is slightly rising on the chest.
Several factors can make you prone to this problem. This is why many people can be at risk of Capsular Contracture. For instance, a woman who has gone through radiation therapy in the past or if they had it after their initial breast reconstruction surgery can develop the risk of developing this health condition. However, doctors still don't understand why some people develop this condition while others don't.
Some of the other factors that can increase your risk of developing this breast implant problem include hematoma (a build-up of blood), rupture of an implant, genetic predisposition to forming scars, and developing a microbial biofilm on an implant.
Unfortunately, capsular contraction can build in one or both breasts. It can also occur at anytime, even several years later after the implant or in the following weeks of your breast augmentation surgery. You will be surprised to know that in most cases, it develops in the early days of the surgery.
The symptoms of this condition come up slowly and include the following signs.
· The implants appear to be much higher on your chest than before.
· You will feel the increasing tightness around your breast.
· If the breast implants distort, they will appear ball-like or round. In some cases, there is a noticeable rippling on the breast.
· The breast implants also appear smaller and don't move around.
· You may feel extreme pain in the breast, especially when the tightness increases.
The symptoms of this condition appear slowly. The Baker Classification, which is a subjective scale, is used to classify the symptoms of the condition.
Here is the different classification of this breast implant condition.
At this stage, the breast appears to be soft. Additionally, it looks very natural, similar to the normal healthy breast.
During this stage, it starts showing visible symptoms. You will feel that your breast is slightly firm; still, it will be normal to some extent.
You will feel that your breast is appearing extremely firm. Its shape will also look awkward. However, the patients will not feel any pain and discomfort.
This is the last stage, and most people notice the problems at this point. Your breast shape becomes abnormal. You also feel that your breast is too hard.Generally, patients also feel pain in the breast area.
Although the reason for the capsular contraction is not known yet, doctors advise you to consult an experienced and professional breast surgeon to limit the risk of complications after cosmetic surgery.
If you have developed capsular contraction, there are several options for you to rectify it. The following are the corrective surgeries that you can opt to treat your capsular contraction.
In this surgery, your surgeon will take out the existing implant in your breast. They will also remove the surrounding tissue capsule. After that, the surgeon will insert a new implant wrapped in a sheet made from the dermal matrix / mesh(a skin substitute made from collagen). This dermal matrix material gives an additional protective layer. Your body will also develop a new capsule of scar tissue around the implant.
An open capsulotomy is another method that your plastic surgeon will recommend for you. During this surgery, your doctor will cut open the tissue capsule present around the breast implant by creating small incisions. They may also have to remove the capsules. Moreover, the work of the capsule is to pop open, which allows the implant to move around easily. In most cases, the plastic surgeon also remove the existing implants so that they can replace them with a new ones.
In the autologous reconstruction, the surgeon will remove your current implant. In addition to it, your plastic surgeon will reconstruct your breast by using the flap of tissue transplanted from any part of your body, like buttocks or belly. The basic benefit of opting for this approach is that it prevents a reoccurring capsular contraction. This is because the tissue capsule will not develop around the flap. Autologous reconstruction is a challenging surgery that also needs a longer recovery time from the methods we have mentioned above and has a varying success rate.
You can also work with your surgeon to prevent the problem from developing. Your surgeon will recommend methods to prevent the development of the stiff capsule of tissue near your breast implant.
Your surgeon may prescribe you preoperative medications, such as Vitamin E and prednisone, however, research on these medications is limited so plastic surgeons may prescribe different preoperative medications.
Furthermore, some plastic surgeons also decide the implants' best placements to lower the risk of developing contractures. Implants can be placed within a muscle pocket or mammary gland. If you pick the first approach, you have fewer chances of developing the capsular contracture. Your surgeon can also use Alloderm mesh to place it on the muscle pocket to reduce the risk of scar tissue production around your implant.
If you have to maintain the surgical drains after the surgery, you need to make sure to empty them on-time. It will help you prevent the seromas. Your surgeon may also recommend you to perform a post-operative massage on your newly constructed breast. Make sure to follow your plastic surgeon’s instructions on post-operative care.
There are several things you can do to prevent any future problems relating to the breast implant. Here are the things that you can do to minimize the risk of contraction and ensure a healthy recovery.
Smoking increases the risk of both infections and capsular contraction. Smoking is also a barrier between you and healing. It can delay the process of recovery and increase the chances for complications, like blood clots.
You don’t need to be overly active after your cosmetic surgery. Try to avoid strenuous activities and any type of activity that can cause injury to your newly constructed breast. The breast implants need time to adjust properly. This is why you need to be really careful; don't try to squeeze, jostle, or strike the breast's surgical area. Make sure to ask your surgeon about the activities that you need to avoid. The more things you discuss with your surgeon, the fewer chances you have to suffer from complications.
Capsular contracture might not be life-threatening but can cause pain and complications if not treated early. So, make sure to go for regular checkups so that you can identify the problem quickly. At Alamo Plastic Surgery, Dr. Albright is a Board Certified San Antonio Plastic Surgeon that specializes in breast and body contouring procedures.