Capsule Contracture: What You Need to Know About ‘Implant Hardening’

There are many horror stories about implants hardening over time, and many believe that the material inside the implant can stiffen, making the breasts look and feel increasingly round, solid and “fake”.

However, that is not really the case. The implant itself does not harden — it’s the body’s reaction to the implant that can causes this effect. When an implant (or any foreign object) is surgically placed into the body, the immune system protectively reacts by forming a thin film around the object.

This biofilm is made up of fibrous tissue that completely covers the implant, forming a capsule. Biofilm is a natural and expected part of the body’s healing process, and most of the time it remains around the implant without actually changing its appearance.

However, in some cases, the body’s immune system also forms scar tissue along the biofilm capsule around the implant, a condition known as fibrosis. Because scar tissue naturally shrinks over time, the scar tissue capsule around the implant can contract, causing the implant to look and feel hard and unnaturally rigid. This is called capsule contracture.

So while the implant itself retains its original shape and softness, it’s the contracting scar tissue capsule around the implant that causes this tightening effect. Several factors can influence the development of capsule contracture around one or both of one’s implants.

Most importantly, the breast implant procedure should only be performed by a board-certified surgeon. Make sure that the doctor you select is experienced and knowledgeable, and thoroughly addresses all of your questions and concerns, as well as reviewing the risks and potential complications with you. Whether the implant is placed over or underneath the pectoral muscles can also influence capsule contracture.

It is also vital to strictly follow all of the doctor’s aftercare instructions when you return home following the surgery. Not following instructions during your recovery time drastically increases your chances of developing infections and complications and can worsen and increase the development of scar tissue in the breast tissue.

Dr. Smith, whose primary medical areas of interest include breast surgery and cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, has many years of experience in breast augmentation and is board certified in general surgery as well as in plastic surgery. He carefully reviews the details of the breast implant procedure with each patient to make sure that they attain the natural-looking results they desire by using the safest and most comfortable techniques possible.


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