WHAT ARE BREAST CAPSULES?
The body develops a lining to wall off all foreign materials such as breast implants. This lining is a form of scar tissue and is known as a capsule. Capsules also occur around other implants such as joint replacements. In most people these capsules remain soft and pliable and you will not be aware you have them. Approximately 4-6% of people with breast implants will develop thicker than normal capsules. Modern textured breast implants have been shown to have a lower rate of capsular contracture than the older smooth walled breast implants. Capsules can act like shrink wrap constricting the breast implants. This can cause :
- Firmness of the implant
- Tenderness of the breast
- In severe cases changes in the shape of your breasts
Breast capsulectomy is an operation to remove the capsules. Breast capsulotomy is an operation which releases the capsules internally. Depending on the type of capsules you have we will advise on the most appropriate treatment for you. Polyurethane coated breast implants have a very low risk of capsular contraction. To hear the pros and cons of using polyurethane coated breast implants listen to our podcast on polyurethane coated breast implants.
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN BREAST CAPSULECTOMY AND BREAST CAPSULOTOMY?
Your surgeon will usually use your old scar during surgery. This means you will not have any more scarring than you did before. This could be in the crease under your breast, the area near your armpit or through the areola (the dark area surrounding your nipple). The breast capsule surrounding your breast implant will either be released (capsulotomy) or removed (capsulectomy). It is normal to replace your old breast implant with a new breast implant. A breast capsulectomy usually takes 2 - 3 hours to complete. Surgery is normally performed under a general anaesthetic and will need to stay in hospital overnight. Most people return to work 1-2 weeks following surgery.
You will be able to walk around and perform light activities the day after your operation. Strenuous activity, however, must be avoided for at least 4 to 5 weeks.
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS
It is possible that your capsules may return. The risk is higher in people who have developed capsules around their breast implants already. The risks of developing further capsules can be reduced by:
- Totally removing the capsule - total capsulectomy
- Replacing your existing breast implants with polyurethane coated breast implants