No matter how skilled your surgeon, or how perfectly your breast augmentation procedure goes, there is a small risk of complications arising during or after surgery. Every body responds differently to surgery and the insertion of a foreign object. From patient to patient, the connective tissue composition can vary widely, and no two healing processes are identical.
Some people naturally develop thick scar tissue after any kind of skin injury, while others can undergo deep cuts and only develop subtle scarring that gradually fades. Another prime example of this difference is how some women develop stretch marks after pregnancy, no matter how hard they work to prevent them, while others have babies stretch mark-free. Add to this equation our immune system responses, and you get the complex equation that determines how the body handles breast augmentation recovery.
Nowadays, medical advances, along with increased surgical skill and understanding, have made complications after plastic surgery rare. Today, we can predict which patients may be likely to experience issues with great accuracy.
If you are prone to thick scar tissue, your doctor may advise against invasive procedures, or use special surgical techniques to keep scarring out of sight. Still, one of the most common concerns we hear about from patients is capsular contracture. Below, we’ll break down what this condition is, and the techniques we can employ to lower your risk even more.
What Is Capsular Contracture?
During the post-implant healing process – whether the implant is cosmetic or medical – the body’s development of a scar tissue “capsule” around the device is a normal and crucial part of recovery. It’s the body’s automatic reaction to a foreign object, creating a barrier around it. With breast implants, this is usually for the best, helping the implant stay in place and prevent slippage.
However, in some patients, the scar tissue capsule becomes abnormally hard and can begin to contract around your implant(s). In early stages, this can cause aesthetic problems and, in untreated or extreme instances, pain in the breasts. Research has shown that around one-sixth of breast implant patients experience some form of capsular contracture, though symptoms may not always be obvious.
In most cases, capsular contracture happens sometime during the initial healing process. Around 75% of all capsular contractures occur within two years of implant placement. Rarely, this condition can occur several years after your augmentation. If it occurs at any time, contact your doctor as soon as possible to receive treatment and check for implant ruptures.
3 Techniques to Reduce Your Risk
Though it’s impossible to eliminate the risk of capsular contracture for every patient, plastic surgery has come a long way in reducing the dangers. To that end, Dr. Armijo employs several preventive strategies to help ensure your implants are healthy for years to come. The first step happens well before your surgery. During your initial consultation, Dr. Armijo will screen you for any health conditions that increase the risk of complications. You’ll also need to give up smoking for at least three weeks before your procedure and for the entirety of the recovery process to aid healing.
1. Choose the Right Implant Size and Type
One of the most effective methods of reducing capsular contracture risk is choosing the correct implant size for your anatomy. Dr. Armijo will determine what size implant your body’s natural breast tissue will adequately cover.
If you have naturally small breasts or low breast volume, we recommend increasing size in stages. That way, your body can slowly become accustomed to a mid-sized implant. After your skin stretches over time, Dr. Armijo can safely place a larger implant during a follow-up procedure.
The type of implant used can lower risks as well. Research has shown that using textured surface gel implants (rather than smooth) reduces the likelihood of capsular contracture. Doctors believe this is due to the textured surface being a bit more difficult for the body to form thick scar tissue around. However, textured implants are not right for every patient, and are best suited to submuscular placement. During your consultation, we’ll discuss all the options available and build a treatment plan to best provide the safe results you want.
2. Minimize Implant Handling
The handling of an implant before insertion into the body can increase the risk of bacterial contamination. Dr. Armijo is meticulous in strictly limiting how much he touches any implant before placing it into the breast cavity. By working with a board-certified plastic surgeon, you know you’ll receive the highest level of care and safety standards.
3. Submuscular Implant Placement
By placing your implant under the chest muscle, Dr. Armijo can significantly lower your risk of capsular contracture. If you choose completely submuscular placement, you’ll only face a 4 to 8% lifetime risk of capsular contracture. However, even if you choose over-the-muscle placement, the lifetime risk of capsular contracture is a relatively low 12 to 18%.
Reach out to Learn More
If you have any further questions about capsular contracture or any other possible risks of breast augmentation, please don’t hesitate to contact our Dallas, TX, office.
Dr. Armijo is a board-certified plastic surgeon with particular expertise in breast surgery. Our entire team is here to help you feel comfortable and confident throughout your journey.