What is Capsular Contracture?

When our patients from Calgary and the surrounding areas are considering and researching breast augmentation with Dr. Frank, they will come across a term they probably have not heard before — capsular contracture. It is the most common complication after having breast augmentation, so in the last blog before a glorious Calgary summer, let’s get into just what this is and what happens. 

What is capsular contracture? 

The human body has one characteristic that is uniform for every person. If an artificial item, such as an artificial knee or a pacemaker, is placed under the skin, the body responds by surrounding the item with scar tissue. This is known as a tissue capsule. 

That’s what happens when breast implants are placed; the body builds fibrous scar tissue around it, the tissue capsule. This is because the body recognizes the implants as foreign objects. 

In most cases, the tissue capsule is soft or slightly firm (still not noticeable) and this helps keep the implants in place. But in some women, the scar tissue formation goes a little haywire and the tissue capsule becomes hard and dense. As it constricts it squeezes the implant. This is capsular contracture, and it can cause chronic pain and distortion in the shape of the breast. 

Signs of capsular contracture 

As the body continues to build scar tissue around the implant and the tissue capsule begins to squeeze the implant, you will have increasing firmness or tightness in the affected breast. This can evolve into chronic pain, restricted range of motion, and/or changes in the position and shape of the breast. 

Capsular contracture can start to appear as early as a few months after implants are placed or years later. There isn’t a set timeframe. 

How is capsular contracture addressed? 

In most cases, Dr. Frank will perform a capsulectomy for patients who are dealing with capsular contracture. During this procedure, he will enter through the original incisions and he will remove the existing implant along with the surrounding tissue capsule. He will then replace the implant back into the same pocket.  

If you’re feeling tightness in your chest and wonder if you could have capsular contracture, please give Dr. Frank a call at (403) 245-1228 to set up an appointment.


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