How can I tell that Breast Implants Are Encapsulated?

Tags:breasts capsular contracture distorted breasts 6 months post-op cost

I wonder if my breast implants have become encapsulated. My procedure was 6 months ago but both breasts just feel unnatural and uncomfortable. What will I have to go through in order to fix this issue? Please tell me that this will not cost a lot to fix.

hunybunygal

F, 31, New Hampshire

There are multiple possible issues that can cause implant discomfort following breast augmentation surgery, and capsular contracture is one of them.

Capsule formation is part of the body's natural response to a foreign object making contact with the neighboring chest muscle and wall. The body's natural defense to foreign materials like saline, silicone, or silicone gel implants is to form a new capsule of collagen fibers and scar tissue around the inside of the breast pocket.

The formation of this scar capsule is a normal part of the healing process; capsule formation is what allows implants to move comfortably beneath the skin once healing has taken place.

Capsular contraction, on the other hand, is a negative result caused by the formation of abnormal cells (myofibroblasts) during the healing process in the presence of chronic inflammation. When these cells proliferate and contract around the implants they produce a painful, tight feeling similar to what you’re describing.

Without first conducting an examination I can't say whether your discomfort is due to capsular contraction, but I can tell you that capsular contracture often has additional visible clues that might provide some insight. Aside from the "uncomfortable" feeling, if one or both breasts appear "ball-like" or misshapen it could be an indication of contraction. If your left or right breast appears smaller than the other this also indicates potential contraction.

I suggest you visit your surgeon as soon as possible and have him or her look into the issue.

As you know, capsular contracture is a potential risk with all breast augmentation procedures. Contracture happens when excessive scars form within the breast pocket in response to the presence of a foreign body. As the scar tissue grows around the breast implants the tissue might sometimes constrict their normal movement.

There are several signs to look for that could indicate capsular contraction. If you experience a painful or uncomfortable tightness around the implants, or should your breasts begin to appear smaller, tighter, or deformed, these may be signs of capsular contracture. Also, if the position of your breasts starts to ride high on your chest, it could be the implant is being forced higher by capsular contraction.

I advise my breast augmentation patients to give themselves regular breast massages following surgery and to move the breast implant around inside the surgical pocket. By regularly pushing the implant in each direction to the edges of the pocket, patients can often prevent contraction. I also advise my patients to apply pressure by squeezing the implants both vertically and horizontally. With regular movement patients can often prevent excessive scar tissue growth and the development of hard capsules.

The onset of capsular contracture is slow, which can make it difficult to spot. While it could happen at any point following surgery, most women experience it around the six to nine month mark. As noted in your question, it’s been six months since your surgery, so contraction is certainly a possibility. Keep in mind, however, that while capsular contraction is one of the most common complications of this procedure, statistically it remains highly unlikely.

I can't offer you any medical advice or guidance on how proceed without specific knowledge of your surgery, but there are multiple surgical procedures (like a capsulotomy or capsulectomy) which can address the issue. I advise you to consult with your plastic surgeon as soon as possible.

Dr. David Whiteman has 2 Breast Revision before & afters:

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Dr Corbin

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