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Capsular contracture is a potential complication of breast augmentation. Capsular contracture is the thickening or tightening of the capsule, which is the tissue your body forms around the breast implants (or any foreign object in the body). During capsular contracture, the tissue begins to squeeze the implants, which causes pain. If you notice pain or your implants feel hard, it may be because of an infection in the capsule. Thankfully, this can be addressed by Dr. Antell's capsular contracture treatment in New York City.

What are the causes of capsular contracture?

Capsular contracture can be caused by a number of different factors.

Bacterial infection

Capsular contracture can develop due to the formation of a thin layer of bacteria (called biofilm) within the breast pocket. Biofilm can be introduced to the body during the initial breast implant procedure when the implant is inserted into the breast cavity. Biofilm can cause an infection, which can lead to capsular contracture.

Hematoma (accumulation of blood) and seroma (accumulation of fluid)

Some patients may need to use drains to help ensure that blood and fluid do not collect within the breast pocket. Blood and fluid collection provides nutrients that bacteria feed on, which increases the development and growth of capsular contracture-causing biofilm.

Breast cancer treatment

Breast implants used during a breast reconstruction after a mastectomy or lumpectomy might cause a higher rate of capsular contracture potentially developing. If women choose to have their implants inserted before all of their cancer treatment, such as radiation, is complete, the risk of capsular contracture is higher.

Genetic Predisposition

Pre-existing conditions and genetics can cause a patient to be more prone to developing thick scar tissue. Women with a family history of autoimmune disease or scarring concerns may be at a heightened risk of developing capsular contracture.

Random chance

Unfortunately, capsular contracture can also be caused at random, with no easily identifiable source. This can’t be predicted, and ultimately it comes down to chance.

Symptoms of capsular contracture

Capsular contracture has a number of symptoms:

  • Pain or significant discomfort
  • Increased firmness or tightness in the breasts
  • Hard breasts
  • A change in breast position or shape
  • Restricted range of motion
  • A round or ball-shaped breast
  • A breast or breasts riding high on the chest wall
  • Misshapen breast or breasts

Grades of capsular contracture

Capsular contracture is graded I through IV. The first level of capsular contracture is a soft, normal capsule. The fourth level is a hard, painful capsule. 

Grade 1: The breast or breasts are soft and look natural.

Grade 2: The breast or breasts are slightly firm, but look normal and natural.

Grade 3: The breast or breasts are firm, look abnormal, and feel uncomfortable.

Grade 4: The breast or breasts are hard, painful, and look abnormal.

Grades III and IV capsular contracture are treated with surgery.

How can you reduce the risk of capsular contracture?

There is no way to truly prevent capsular contracture from occurring. There are, however, some ways to reduce the potential of capsular contracture happening as well as capsular contracture treatment options. These are things to think about when you’re having your initial breast implant surgery:

  • Saline implants have a higher risk of developing capsular contracture than silicone implants.
  • Smooth implants may have less of a chance of developing capsular contracture than textured implants.
  • Implants placed under the muscles are thought to be less likely to develop contracture than implants placed over the muscles. The pectoral muscles massage the implants, which helps the scar tissue to remain soft.

Capsular Contracture Treatment Methods

Capsular contracture should be treated right away. If you notice some of the early signs of capsular contracture, contact Dr. Antell quickly so that he can address the situation using the proper capsular contracture treatment method.

Dr. Antell will make incisions in the same places that were made in your original implant surgery. He may simply remove the capsule tissue, or he may remove the capsule tissue and the implant as well.

Removal of a portion of scar tissue

In more mild cases of capsular contracture, especially when it is caught early, it is sometimes possible to remove a portion of the scar tissue. This method of capsular contracture treatment creates more space in the breast pocket and helps to correct early capsular contracture.

Secondary breast augmentation with a capsulectomy 

In cases of capsular contracture that are more advanced, the method of capsular contracture treatment utilized is a capsulectomy, which is done to remove the entire breast implant and the surrounding capsule at once. New implants are inserted during this time based on your aesthetic desires.

About Capsular Contracture Surgery

Recovery Following Capsular Contracture Treatment

Dr. Antell's capsular contracture treatment in NYC is an outpatient procedure. Be sure to arrange for a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery and stay with you for the night. Expect some pain and swelling for a couple of days after surgery. Dr. Antell will prescribe pain medication to help you stay comfortable. Soreness and swelling may last for several weeks.

The recovery from breast implant removal is often easier than your first breast implant surgery. You will wear a compression bra to help minimize swelling and keep the shapely appearance of your breasts. You may be able to return to work in about a week.

Your breasts will take a few months to fully heal and settle into their new position, but the worst of the swelling will fade in about two weeks. Avoid heavy lifting or exercise for 1.5 months. 

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