Mr Nigel Horlock

Consultant Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon

Understanding Capsular Contracture After Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures that has been carried out for decades. While its safety has been dramatically improved over the years, there are still risks patients need to be aware of before they undergo the procedure.

Capsular contracture is one of the main complications that can occur after breast augmentation. Here, you’ll discover what capsular contracture is and whether it’s possible to prevent it from occurring.

What is capsular contracture?

When you have any kind of implant inserted into the body, it naturally causes a capsular to develop as part of the healing process. A capsular is a build-up of scar tissue, caused when the body detects a foreign object. The scar tissue acts as a barrier around the implant, which can actually be beneficial in terms of keeping breast implants in place.

Capsular contracture occurs when the scar tissue unusually hardens and contracts against the implant. If this occurs, it can cause the aesthetics of the breasts to change, as well as lead to pain in the breasts in severe cases.

There are different grades of capsular contractor, ranging from grade 1 to grade 4. Grade 1 capsular contracture is the mildest form, often presenting no symptoms. With grade 2, there may be minor cosmetic symptoms, while grade 3 presents more noticeable aesthetic changes. Grad 4 is the most severe, causing the breasts to become misshapen and hard. Patients who experience a grade 4 capsular contracture tend to also suffer breast soreness and tenderness.

What causes it?

There is no known exact cause of capsular contracture, although experts do have a few theories. What should be stressed, is that the complication isn’t caused due to dangerous or toxic implants. It occurs in all types of implants, so it isn’t strictly an issue with breast augmentation.

It is thought that genetics could play a role, alongside a bacteria layer known as Biofilm. The latter can cause a low-grade infection in the area, potentially leading to a hardening of the scar tissue.

However, sometimes the cause isn’t known, and capsular contracture can occur randomly in patients. It is worth noting here, however, that it is rare, and most patients experience either grade 1 or grade 2 cases.

Is capsular contracture preventable?

While it isn’t possible to prevent capsular contracture in every single patient, there are some measures that can be taken to minimise the risk. A new experimental study has shown that Omega 3 fatty acids could help with capsular contracture prevention.

The study, published within the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal in March 2020, was carried out on mice. It was discovered that mice which were fed Omega 3 fatty acids, developed less capsule formation around implants. It is thought this is down to fewer collagen deposits.

While the study does prove promising, it isn’t guaranteed to prevent every case of capsular contracture. Other potential preventative measures include thoroughly screening patients, using the correct size implant and minimising implant handling.

 


Mr Horlock's NHS practice is based in the regional plastics unit at Salisbury District Hospital. He covers Salisbury, Southampton and Dorchester. He sees patients in his private practice at Southampton, Salisbury, Dorchester.

CONTACT MR HORLOCK
Spire Southampton Hospital
Chalybeate Close,
Southampton,
Hampshire
S016 6UY
CLINIC APPOINTMENTS: 02380 914 504
Julie Martin: 02380 764 969
info@nigelhorlock.co.uk