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COVID-19 Reopening Updates View Update Virtual Consultation

capsular contactureAny implant placed in the body will induce a thin protective scar layer commonly termed a capsule. This is the body’s response to something foreign and primarily protects the body from whatever that “foreign” item is. This occurs in pacemakers, joint replacements, breast implants, and even something like glass in your leg. The difference with breast implants is that they are the only soft and supple implant that must remain that way to do their job adequately.

capsular contracture breast implantsIn rare instances, the capsule can begin to contract. In an implant made of solid silicone or stainless steel, there is no way for the capsule to deform that type of implant. However, with soft silicone gel implants, it is by design that they are easily deformable, and the capsule can alter the shape of the implant if it contracts. This can leave a patient with a misshapen or harder breast implant that may look different than the other side and can even be associated with pain. If this were to occur in something such as a knee replacement, physical therapy can break through the scar tissue and correct this. However, this is impossible with breast implants.

Unfortunately, the cause or reason for this is mostly unknown. Numerous studies have been performed to determine why this happens in breast augmentation patients, and none of these has been able to determine why this contraction happens conclusively. Keep in mind that the presence of a capsule is normal, but the contracture is the problem.

Because we are unsure of the exact cause, there are numerous treatment possibilities. Some physicians may elect to use an anti-inflammatory asthma medication called Singulair to attempt to soften the capsule. This is successful in 10 to 15% of patients. Some doctors prefer to treat this surgically. The simplest approach is to open up the breast capsule and make internal cuts into the capsule to expand, thereby releasing the capsule. This allows the implant to sit more naturally on the chest and is returned to its proper shape and position. However, this has also been found to be limited in its long-term success. Unfortunately, patients frequently have a recurrence of the contracture soon after this procedure is performed. There are instances where this will correct the problem, but it is less frequently seen.

The next more definitive and successful approach is to remove the entire contracted capsule and the old implant. The patient will receive a brand new implant, usually in the same position as the old contracted capsule. If the implant is located in the subglandular position, it will frequently be replaced in a submuscular position since the rates of capsular contracture are much lower. This has been much more successful in definitively correcting the contracture.

Here is a video of a patient who had a bilateral capsular contracture and underwent the complete removal of the capsule and the replacement of new implants in the submuscular position. This can help demonstrate how the narrow capsule can constrict the gel implant, thus changing its shape in the body.

*The content in this blog is developed to spread the awareness towards plastic surgery. Our blog is not intended to serve as a replacement for an actual in-office consultation with Dr. Marin. As such, the information within this blog reflects the unique cases of our individual patients.

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In light of the state wide restrictions on non-essential businesses to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, we are rescheduling all of our elective appointments until the global circumstances improve. Our necessary post-operative appointments will be made, as needed, to address immediate surgical concerns such as suture removal and acute postoperative issues. All non-acute follow up appointments, fillers and Botox will need to be postponed until after the quarantine period mid April. Our office will reach out to all patients who need to be rescheduled.

We will be offering new patient virtual consultations online and via Skype that can be scheduled through our website or by emailing Also, we will offer follow-up appointments in the same manner to help manage our patients’ concerns while still respecting the need for social distancing.

We appreciate all of your understanding during these difficult times for all of us.

Stay safe,

Dr. Main and the Marin Aesthetics Team