Capsular Contracture or Hard Breast Implants

Capsular contracture may be a possibility if after breast enlargement surgery the breast implants feel firm or hard, if they are immobile or misshapen, or if they have pulled out of position. In the majority of contracture cases the breast implants will feel firm, although in some cases they will feel hard and occasionally they may be uncomfortable and/or painful.

Capsular contracture results from a thickening and tightening of the layer of scar tissue that naturally develops around all breast implants. All implants will develop a capsule within a few weeks of breast augmentation although in the overwhelming majority of cases the capsule remains thin, flexible and unnoticeable.

Capsular contracture is a potential issue after breast augmentation. It is, however, not a health hazard or risk and leads to no illnesses or diseases. Capsular contracture has been reported in some older studies as occurring in as high as 15-20% of breast augmentations. The exact cause of capsular contracture is unknown, but several theories exist. The contribution of any one or more of these theories is also unclear. Modern implant design and improved techniques have reduced contracture rates to about 10% or less. Capsular contracture remains, however, a leading cause for reoperation after breast augmentation.

The primary treatment for capsular contracture is to surgically remove the capsule. This is an outpatient operation with a recovery similar to that of the original breast augmentation. The implants (if intact) are often reused in the patient although in cases of older implants, it is most common to replace the implants with new ones.

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