When an artificial material, such as breast implants for breast augmentation, is inserted into the body, scar tissue may develop around the object. Some people may develop this, and will not be able to feel it nor be aware they even have it. However, in some cases, the scar tissue will tighten around the implant, making it hard or misshapen, and causing pain and discomfort. This is referred to as a capsular contracture.
How will I know if I have capsular contracture?
In the early stages of capsular contracture, you may not notice or feel any symptoms. At this stage, you do not have to have any treatment. However, it is the later stages of capsular contracture that causes the problems. When being assessed for capsular contracture, you will be given a grade. These are:
- Grade I: there are no symptoms, and the breasts still appear soft and do not look irregular
- Grade II: the breasts may feel slightly harder but still have the usual appearance
- Grade III: the appearance of the breasts begin to distort and feels hard to touch
- Grade IIII: this is the highest grade, where the breasts are hard to touch, distorted and may be causing physical pain.
When you first have implants, there is no way to know whether or not you will get capsular contracture. Currently, there is no certain reason for why capsular contracture occurs.
What can be done to treat capsular contracture?
There are two options to treat breast capsular contracture:
- Breast capsulotomy: an operation which releases the capsules internally.
- Breast capsulectomy: an operation to remove the capsules.
Depending on the type of capsules you have, we will advise on the most appropriate treatment for you. Polyurethane coated breast implants have a very low risk of capsular contracture.
What happens during the capsular contracture surgery?
The surgery will be performed using TIVA anaesthetic. This is performed as a day surgery, and you will be able to return home once the effects of the anaesthetic have worn off. Capsular contracture surgery usually takes 2 – 3 hours to complete.
To ensure you do not have a new scar, the surgeon will make the incision using your old scar. This will vary depending on where the last incision was made and could be under your breast, near the armpit or through the areola.
The surgeon will either do a capsulotomy (release of the implant) or capsulectomy (removal of the implant). In most cases, your old implants will be replaced. This surgery takes two to three hours to complete.
Recovery after breast implant replacement
It is normal to experience some bruising, swelling and discomfort after the operation, however, pain medication can be taken to alleviate symptoms.
You will be able to walk around and perform light activities the day after your operation. You will need to avoid any strenuous activity for 4 to 5 weeks.
Your surgeon will usually use your old scar during surgery. This means you will not have any more scarring than you did before.
While the procedure will remove the capsules, there is the possibility that they may return in the future. Those who have already have capsular contracture have a higher risk of it returning in the future. If you are concerned about it returning in the future, you can lower the risk level by:
- Undergoing a capsulectomy to remove the implant
- Ensure your implants are replaced with polyurethane-coated breast implants.
Want more information? Contact Centre for Surgery today to inquire about capsular contracture surgery or to book a consultation with a surgeon.