What Is Capsular Contracture?

Submitted by Dr. Joyesh Raj on Sun 08/26/2018 - 09:00

Part of being an informed plastic surgery patient is educating yourself about the benefits and potential risks of surgery. If you are thinking about breast augmentation, you should be aware of a rare complication known as capsular contracture.

Anytime a foreign object is placed in the body, the body responds by forming a thin membrane capsule around the object. Most of the time, this capsule stays thin but in a small number of breast augmentation cases, the capsule thickens and tightens around the implant, causing distortion and discomfort. This is generally thought to happen because of the presence of bacteria on the implant surface.

Read on as Cleveland breast augmentation surgeon Joyesh Raj explains what you should know about capsular contracture.

Capsular Contracture Symptoms

Capsular contracture can affect one or both breasts. The signs and symptoms of capsular contracture may develop slowly over time. They include the following:

  • Breasts that look distorted
  • Breasts that take on the shape of a ball
  • Breasts that feel hard, tight or painful
  • Visible rippling on the breasts

Capsular contracture is normally diagnosed during a physical examination with the plastic surgeon. Doctors measure the severity of capsular contracture based on the Baker grading system:

Grade I: Soft, normal-looking breasts

Grade II: Slightly firm, normal-looking breasts

Grade III: Firm, abnormal-looking breasts

Grade IV: Painful, distorted-looking breasts

Treating Capsular Contracture

The best way to treat capsular contracture is to surgically remove the affected implant(s) and release the scar tissue. The implant(s) can be replaced if desired.

Preventing Capsular Contracture

Although there is no guaranteed method to avoid capsular contracture, plastic surgeons can use several techniques to reduce the risk of the complication. For instance, some plastic surgeons use a device called the Keller Funnel to insert the implants into the breast tissue without touching the implants; this is thought to reduce the chance of bacterial contamination.

Some surgeons also believe that placing implants under the chest muscle lowers the chances of capsular contracture, as the movement and gentle massage provided by the muscle discourages the capsule from thickening around the implant.

The most important step that you can take to reduce your risk of capsular contracture is to work with an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon that has performed hundreds or thousands of breast augmentation procedures.

To make an appointment with Dr. Raj and discuss your breast augmentation options, please contact our office today.