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Breast Capsulectomy Surgery

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 3 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
Cosmetic Surgery Plastic Surgery

Breast enlargement can have amazing results but there is always the possibility of something going wrong. One of the most common problems with a boob job is capsular contracture. This happens when the breast treats the implant as a foreign body and forms a thick capsule around the implant, contracting and causing the breast to become misshapen and often painful. When this occurs, breast capsulectomy surgery is needed.

What is Capsular Contracture?

When an implant is placed within a breast the body will attempt to get rid of it, and a capsule will form. This is entirely normal and is true of any foreign body placed inside a human body, such as a pacemaker or artificial joint. Sometimes referred to as a tissue capsule, it is part of the body´s normal response and is to be expected.

But capsules that are unusually thick or those that contain muscle cells can contract, thus tightening and squeezing the implant itself. As is expected, this will cause the breast to feel very hard, and its appearance will look distorted. This increased amount of scar tissue can cause pain and cause the breast to look as if a hard ball is inside.

Reasons for capsular contracture are unclear, ranging from infection to haematoma to smoking, among others. The good news is that surgery to remove the implant makes the breast tissue normal again, and a new implant can then be inserted.

What is Breast Capsulectomy Surgery?

In the old days, surgeons simply squeezed the implant to pop open the scar tissue. This, however, can lead to the implant rupturing. Called closed capsulotomy, it is a procedure where the majority of patients are awake, and can be very painful but short–lived.

Open capsulotomy is preferred today. It is surgery where the surgeon cuts the scar tissue to open the capsule, and thus release the implant: It can be done using a variety of different incisions, including around the areola.

Can I Prevent this from Happening?

You can never get rid of the risk completely, but certain things can help. They include:

  • Taking Vitamin E orally. This is not entirely proven to be effective, but since this vitamin works wonders on the skin it´s thought to improve the scar tissue.
  • Post–operative massage. This is usually recommended only for people with smooth implants, and can be performed for as long as you like! Do not do in the fortnight before and after surgery to reduce the risk of bleeding.
  • Wearing a compression bra. Considered to be especially effective if done in conjunction with compression exercises.
  • Specific nutritional supplements. Ask your doctor or surgeon for details.
  • Having antibiotics before dental surgery to decrease the risk of infections.
  • Using only textured implants, which discourage very hard capsules from being formed.

Having a breast implant is not usually considered a very risky procedure, and compared to a breast reduction it´s relatively straightforward. But capsular contracture is all part of the risk. If this happens to you, don´t panic. Occasionally antibiotics will be all you need, but in most cases see your surgeon right away and sort it out. It´s relatively common and is all part of the cosmetic surgery highway!

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