What is Capsular Contracture?

Capsular contracture is a complication that can occur after breast augmentation surgery with implants. Even the most highly skilled surgeons see cases in their patients because every single body responds uniquely to placement of an implant.

With any breast implant surgery, the body creates a capsule of scar tissue that surrounds and supports the implant. Recognized as a normal finding, the formation of the capsule helps keep the implant in place. However, in cases of capsular contracture, the capsule becomes unusually dense and contracts around the implant. This can lead to unwanted aesthetic changes, or when extreme, significant pain and distortion in the breast.

Capsular Contracture Scottsdale AZ

In this blog post you will learn what the breast implant complication looks like and the Baker stages of capsular contracture. Scottsdale plastic surgeon Dr. Ashley Howarth is an expert known for correcting capsular contraction deformities in revision breast augmentation surgery in Arizona.

Capsular Contracture Baker Grade 4 IV

What Does Capsular Contracture Look Like?

In mild cases, the breast looks normal. If the severity of the contracture increases, the breast can become hard and look very round or elevated. Likewise, women may notice an abnormal contour to the breast, or an asymmetry to the breasts. Rather than seeing a smooth, soft contour, advanced cases of capsular contracture may look bumpy, uneven, constricted or unnaturally shaped. In effect, each case is unique. The condition is different than a double bubble implant deformity or the snoopy breast implant deformity.

What does Capsular Contracture look like? Baker Stage 1 2 3 4

What Causes Capsular Contracture?

The cause of capsular contracture varies from person to person. Similarly, there are several accepted theories on what causes capsular contracture.

Researchers believe there may be a genetic link. A family history of autoimmune disorder, or a family history of abnormal, thick scarring, may predispose a patient to breast implant complications.

Some cases, however, do not seem to have a genetic link or identifiable risk factor. Another theory includes the concept of biofilm. Biofilm is a thin layer of bacteria around the implant that creates a low-grade immune response with accompanying fibrous scar tissue development.

There are techniques of implant placement that may decrease the likelihood of breast implant complications. For example, using the correct implant size, minimal implant handling and submuscular implant placement are all noted preventative strategies utilized by skilled plastic surgeons. Important to note, even under strict protocol and perfect technique, some cases of capsular contracture may still develop.

How Can I Tell If I Have a Capsular Contracture?

Early signs of may include a very firm, tight sensation in the breast, or an asymmetrical appearance to the breast. As the condition progresses, you may have breast pain, a very round or high-riding breast, or see a misshapen contour to the breast. In sum, patients with unexpected symptoms such as these, should seek evaluation by a plastic surgeon known. In Arizona, Dr. Ashley Howarth is known for correcting capsular contracture with breast implant revision surgery.

How Common is Capsular Contracture?

Overall, research shows that approximately 15% of breast augmentation patients may experience capsular contracture, making it a relatively common occurrence. There are different levels of severity ranging from almost unnoticeable to painful and asymmetrical. In fact, most capsular contracture cases occur in the first three years after surgery. Regardless of the timing or severity, there are some interventions to help treat this condition. 

Can I Prevent Capsular Contracture?

While cases are unpredictable, your surgeon may recommend breast self-massage during the recovery phase to maintain pliability of the tissues. It is important to follow your surgeon’s recommendations in the recovery phase to minimize potential complications of any kind. Additionally, massage technique and frequency are case specific, so be sure to consult your surgeon prior to any intervention. 

What Does Capsular Contracture Feel Like?

Depending on the severity, presenting symptoms of capsular contracture will vary. While some women with mild contracture might not even notice anything out of the ordinary, advanced cases may cause significant pain and poor aesthetics, necessitating revision surgery.

The Baker Scale classifies cases of capsular contracture. The scale uses a grading of 1-4, with 4 being the most severe presentation.

Baker Grades Capsular Contracture

Baker Grade 1

The breast is soft and looks natural. The formation of scar tissue does not impact the size, shape, or texture of the breast.

Baker Grade 2

The breast is slightly firm but looks mostly normal. Cosmetic disruption is minimal at this level.

Baker Grade 3

The breast is firm and looks abnormal. Obvious cosmetic changes exist, possibly including overly round breast or misshapen nipples. Usually little to no pain present.

Baker Grade 4

The breast is hard, painful, and looks abnormal. The breast may be misshapen, and often quite sore or tender to the touch. 

How to Correct a Capsular Contracture

If significant capsular contracture occurs, specifically grade 4, the treatment of choice is often total capsulectomy. This procedure involves removal of the breast implant and all scar tissue. Subsequently, the patient receives a new implant, placed under ideal conditions.

A capsular contracture can be very frustrating and leave you feeling understandably displeased with the outcome of your surgery. Considering that breast enhancement surgery is supposed to improve your self-confidence and physical appearance, it makes sense that you may seek a corrective intervention if you have an advanced grade capsular contracture.

Capsular Contracture Breast Revision Specialist Scottsdale AZ

If you are worried about the appearance of your breasts, the first step is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ashley Howarth, a leading female plastic surgeon in Scottsdale, AZ. Expertly trained at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Dr. Howarth is highly skilled in the correction of capsular contracture.

After a thorough evaluation and discussion of your goals, Dr. Howarth will develop a plan of care to restore and rejuvenate your breasts to an ideal appearance. If you are considering breast enhancement or revision surgery or are worried about signs or symptoms of capsular contracture, Dr. Ashley Howarth can assist you through the process with kindness, compassion, and expertise.

Request a Consultation with Dr. Ashley Howarth

Scottsdale AZ Capsular contracture surgeon Dr. Ashley Howarth

 

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