What is Capsular Contracture and How Can I Avoid it?

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Many patients considering undergoing a breast augmentation have likely come across the term “capsular contracture” in their research. A known complication of breast augmentations, a capsular contracture is basically a painful and hard breast that can result after a breast procedure. Below we go over what exactly causes a capsular contraction and what patients can do after surgery to avoid it.

What Causes Capsular Contracture?
Once a breast implant is in place, fibrous scar tissue naturally forms around it, creating a tissue capsule. This tissue capsule is usually soft or slightly firm, not noticeable, and helps to keep the implant in place. In some women, a tissue capsule forms that is unusually hard and dense, which ends up tightening around the implant and squeezing it. This condition, called capsular contracture, can cause chronic pain and distortion in the shape of the breast. Usually, this condition is caused by a hematoma (build-up of blood tissue) around the implant. A hematoma can form from some form of trauma, like radiation or a car accident.

Is it Common?
Capsular contracture is the most common complication after breast surgery, but luckily, it only occurs in about 10.6% of those who have a breast augmentation. While they can be very uncomfortable, capsular contractures are not life threatening. Corrective surgery can fix the issue.

How Can I Avoid it?
While there are certain events that are out of a patient’s control when it comes to avoiding capsular contracture, such as a car accident or other form of trauma, there are also many preventative measures that can be taken to avoid the complication from occurring. According to Dr. Gray, one of the ways he tries to reduce his patients’ risk of capsular contracture is by prescribing them with Singulair asthma medicine. According to many small studies, drugs in this class have been proven to cut down on capsular contracture. Additionally, capsular contracture can be avoided by using a clean surgical technique, by ensuring all post-op instructions are followed, and by wearing the prescribed compression garment as directed.

In Conclusion
While a capsular contracture is a known complication of breast surgery, it is not life-threatening and can be corrected with surgery if needed. The best ways to avoid capsular contracture are to follow all post-op instructions, wear your compression garment as directed, and choose a reputable plastic surgeon with years of experience in breast procedures.