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Charles A. Messa, III, MD, FACS

What Causes Capsular Contracture? A Closer Look at the Implant Complication

Posted June 06, 2020 in Capsular Contracture

3 Min Read: 

The formation of a scar tissue “capsule” is a normal part of the healing process after breast augmentation surgery and isn’t always a bad thing—the capsule often helps keep the implant in the breast pocket. Capsular contracture occurs when the scar tissues begin to harden and tighten around the implant.

woman experiencing capsular contracture

Some symptoms of capsular contracture include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Increased firmness or tightness in the breast
  • Change in breast position or shape
  • Restricted range of motion

If you are experiencing any signs of capsular contracture, you may need to contact your surgeon.

What Are the Causes of Capsular Contracture?

Capsular contracture can be caused by one or more factors, such as:

Low-Grade Bacterial Infection

Capsular contracture can develop due to the formation of a biofilm within the breast pocket. Biofilm is a thin layer of bacteria that is often introduced to the body when the implant is inserted into the breast cavity during augmentation. This collection of bacteria can cause an infection, which can lead to capsular contracture.

Hematoma and Seroma

Some patients may need to use drains to help ensure that blood (hematoma) and fluid (seroma) do not collect within the breast pocket. This collection provides nutrients for bacteria to feed on, thereby increasing the development and growth of capsular contracture-causing biofilm.

Breast Cancer Treatment

Women who choose implants for their breast reconstruction (after mastectomy or lumpectomy) might have a higher rate of developing capsular contracture if they chose to insert their implants prior to finishing all of their cancer treatment (such as radiation).

Genetic Predisposition

Pre-existing conditions and genetics are also important to consider. Patients who are prone to developing thick scar tissue or have a family history of autoimmune disease may be at a heightened risk of capsular contracture.

Bad Luck

It is also possible that this condition can arise at random with no easily identifiable source. This comes down to nothing more than chance.

What Are the Early Signs of Capsular Contracture?

The earliest signs of capsular contracture include:

  • Mild tingling of the implants
  • The distorted appearance of the breasts
  • Firm feel of the implants

Can I Prevent Capsular Contracture?

There is no way to truly prevent capsular contracture from occurring; however, there are some ways that have been shown to reduce the possibility of it. Many of these come from the specifics of your breast augmentation surgery.

Statistics show that saline implants have a higher risk of developing capsular contracture than cohesive gel implants (silicone), and textured implants may be more protective than smooth silicone implants. Additionally, implants placed under the muscles are also thought to be less likely to develop contracture since the pectoral muscle massages the implants, allowing the scar tissue to remain soft.

How Can I Treat Capsular Contracture?

Although capsular contracture is nothing to shrug off, it is easily treatable. If you begin to notice some of the early signs of capsular contracture, contact your surgeon as soon as possible.

To correct capsular contracture, you will need to undergo secondary breast augmentation with a capsulectomy. A capsulectomy is a surgical procedure where your surgeon removes the breast implant and the surrounding scar tissue. A new implant can be inserted during this time. Because capsular contracture is highly treatable, it is not a hindrance for women who want to keep their breast implants.

Interested in Learning More?

If you are interested in getting a breast augmentation and would like to learn more about your options, please contact Dr. Messa by calling 954-659-7760 or 877-250-8117, or by filling out our online contact form

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2823 Executive Park Dr, Weston, FL 33331