What is capsular contracture?
All breast implants form a capsule around the implant which is a natural process. Capsular contraction occurs when the tissue of the capsule becomes tight and distorts the shape of the implant. Those that have capsular contracture may find that their breasts change in shape, feel hard and they may also experience pain or discomfort.
Capsular contracture is a rare side effect but is more common in those who have experienced it before which is often why implant removal is advised instead of implant replacement. However implant replacement is still possible, and the full risks and conditions of surgery will be explained in more detail during a consultation with your surgeon.
Capsular contracture is one of the most common reasons for breast augmentation revision surgery and surgeons use a grading system known as The Baker System to assess the severity of capsular contracture on their patients.
- Baker I / Grade 1 – This is when there is scar tissue surrounding the implant but there is no change to the shape, size or texture of the breasts. There is no firmness and breasts should feel soft.
- Baker II / Grade 2 – Firmness may be felt around the implant but there is so change to the appearance of the breast
- Baker III / Grade 3 – Breasts will be form and start to change shape such as becoming rounder, sitting higher or becoming bulgy on the top of the chest.
- Baker IIII / Grade 4 – As well as firm breasts and an abnormal shape, the breasts will also become sore and tender.
How is capsular contracture diagnosed?
Your surgeon will perform a physical examination of the breasts to diagnose capsular contracture. No further testing is required. It is common for capsular contracture to occur within the first 2 years after breast implant surgery. Capsular contracture that is diagnosed after 2 years will often require further testing to ensure there is no rupture to the implant.
Ruptured implants are a big cause of late-onset capsular contraction.
In most cases Baker 1 and Baker 2 do not require surgery but more severe cases of capsular contracture will require surgery of capsular removal and implant removal or replacement.