While not life threatening, capsular contracture can significantly impact the look and feel of your breast implants. Breast implant capsular contracture is a complication that occurs when the scar tissue that usually forms around your implant to help keep it in place, instead tightens and squeezes the implant, potentially resulting in chronic pain and a distorted breast shape, making the affected breast rise higher on the chest than the other.

How Common is Capsular Contracture?

Occurring nationwide in about one in twenty four patients, capsular contracture can occur at any time after your augmentation, though approximately three-fourths of all incidences of capsular contracture will occur within two years. Some signs to watch out for are increasing firmness or tightness in the breast, pain, and/or the breast makes a shift towards the center of the body. You may notice the implant starting to move up but the breast stays lower, so if you see a mound or a firmness that’s increasing up on the top of your chest, you should speak with your surgeon to assess further.

How can you treat capsular contracture?

Depending on the severity, capsular contracture treatment can include everything from massage and medications to surgery in the more extreme cases to remove the stiffened capsule and replace the implant. That’s why it’s important to alert your surgeon from the moment you begin to notice signs of possible capsular contracture to ensure you have the most corrective options available. Most often though, if caught early enough, your surgeon will prescribe what’s typically an allergy medication that can improve softness of the breast if given over a long enough period of time.

How can you prevent capsular contracture?

Capsular contracture prevention starts before you even enter the operating room. Choosing the right board-certified plastic surgeon is the first step to prevention. Dr. Barrett’s patients, for example, encounter the complication at a much lower rate than that nationwide one in twenty four, due to the techniques he uses during the implant process. Additionally, the location of your implant may play a role, as implants placed within muscle seem to be less likely to develop capsular contracture. Other things, like emptying your surgical drains on schedule and avoiding strenuous or overly physical activity while you’re healing can also play a part in preventing capsular contracture.

Does insurance cover capsular contracture?

This is highly dependent on both your specific policy and the basis for your initial implant surgery. Generally speaking, your insurance company will likely make their coverage decision based on why you got breast implants. For example, if you chose reconstructive implants after a mastectomy, and your doctor believes their removal is medically necessary, then your insurance must cover the explant surgery. However if your implants were for cosmetic reasons, your insurance company may or may not cover medically necessary explant surgery.

While it may feel disheartening to think that you’ve come so far in your augmentation journey, only to face the possibility of such an visible complication, you don’t have to let it prevent you from having the body you want and finally feeling comfortable in your own skin. Being proactive about choosing your surgeon, your postoperative care, and any possible changes in your implants can prevent or mitigate the severity of capsular contracture.

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