Capsular Contracture – What is it?
When any type of breast implant is inserted, the body reacts by forming a protective lining around it. This is referred to as the “capsule” or “tissue capsule.” Some people refer to it as the “scar capsule” although it is not exactly the same as scar tissue. The capsule is formed by your own living tissue. It is normal and happens in everyone regardless of whether the implant is smooth or textured, silicone or saline.
In some women, for reasons we don’t understand completely, the capsule has a tendency to shrink, squeezing the implant. This is referred to as capsular contracture. The tighter the capsule becomes the firmer the breast feels.
The treatment of capsular contracture is usually surgical. In an “open capsulotomy” the surgeon scores, or cuts, the capsule to release its hold on the implant. In an “open capsulotomy,” the entire capsule is surgically removed. The body then forms a new capsule but the hope is that it does not contract as the old one did. Only a relatively small percentage of women with implants develop capsular contracture severe enough to require surgical treatment. The rare patient develops repeated capsular contracture but in the majority of cases it can be successfully treated.
Can I stop scar tissue from forming in the first place?
As we discussed above, capsular contracture is a random occurrence. While it is not uncommon to feel a little rippling, especially in thin skinned patients, it is not common for someone to have enough scar formation that they need to have it fixed.
There is no way to test for a tendency to form extra scar tissue but there is suggestion that Vitamin E can help.
We have all heard that vitamin E helps scars. Actually, vitamin E does not melt scars it makes them softer. It works by reducing the strength of the three strands that form collagen, making them softer and more pliable. Technically, it reduces the strength of cross-linking of these strands.
If you take vitamin E after having implants, does it make the capsule around the implant softer and more pliable?
While there is no good study showing that this works, research shows that taking relatively high doses of vitamin E for at least one year after having breast implants? It is believed that this has made a significant difference in decreasing the number of capsular contractures in my practice.
Dr Peterson recommends massage as part of all post operative caring for you implants. This keeps them soft and the tissue around the implant soft therefore reducing capsular contractor. You can download our massage instructions here.