CAPSULAR CONTRACTURE OF THE BREAST
WHAT IS IT?
Capsular Contracture or “Capsular Contraction”, is a condition that may affect those who undergo breast augmentation, either electively or after breast reconstruction. It is a hardening and constriction of the breast implant capsule and causes breast firmness. In the most severe cases, it can create a painful, distorted, misshaped, or oddly positioned implant.
The truth is that a capsule is natural, and forms around any foreign object in our bodies, in this case, the breast implant. This “capsule” or implant shell is similar to the thin opaque membrane that one may see when you break open a hard-boiled egg. It’s the flimsy/ rubbery covering inside the shell but outside covering of the egg.
A capsule normally occurs to anything “foreign” object inside the body, like hip replacement prosthesis, metal fragments, or even a thorn deeply lodged inside the body. It becomes a problem, when the natural capsule is triggered to constrict or fibrose, which ultimately causes hardening of the breast implant shell and possibly other problems.
CAUSES OF CAPSULAR CONTRACTURE:
The origin of Capsular Contracture is speculated to be from a number of causes that are still up for review. The following are generally well accepted as possible causes:
- Bacterial Infection
- Hematoma (excessive blood that collects in an area)
- Seroma (non-blood type of watery liquid that collects in an area)
- Radiation treatment for breast cancer
SIGNS OF CAPSULAR CONTRACTURE:
Capsular Contracture firmness is graded using the Baker Grading System:
- Grade I: Breast looks and feels normal
- Grade II: Breast feels a little firm but looks normal
- Grade III: Breast is more firm and is visually distorted (shape change or malpositioned)
- Grade IV: Breast is hard and greatly distorted in shape and position
- IMPLANT NOT DROPPING OR IN HIGH POSITION
- DISTORTED SHAPE OR APPEARANCE
Despite the best efforts, capsular contracture may happen. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), how often capsular contracture occurs will vary depending on the type of procedure (above or below muscle implant placement) and the type of implant (silicone or saline). On average, 9-33% of women may encounter a breast encapsulation sometime in their life after breast implant surgery. Women who undergo breast reconstruction after receiving radiation treatment for cancer tend to be on the higher end of the statistics.