One of the most common risks of breast augmentation is capsular contracture, which results in a breast that feels hard. This is because the body sometimes surrounds the implant with excessive scar tissue, squeezing the device, and causing it to look and feel unnaturally firm. Though anyone can develop this unfortunate breast implant side effect, smoking, trauma to the chest, and infections can all increase the risk. In many cases, the implant needs to be removed and replaced with a new one after the excess scar tissue is taken out. Newer methods, however, do not require the implant to be removed, as doctors can inject vitamin E and steroids, or even massage the implant to soften it up.
Breast augmentation typically requires the doctor to create a pocket in the breast tissue in which to place the implant. Once the implant is placed into the pocket, the body creates a lining of tissue around it, which is often called a capsule. While it is normal for the body to shrink this tissue over time, in cases of capsular contracture, the capsule squeezes the implant too hard. This leads to an unnaturally firm implant that may begin to leak fluids. Though this issue is often accompanied by discomfort and a breast that looks oddly shaped, it is not usually harmful to the patient.
Anyone can develop capsular contracture, but some factors may increase the chances of certain patients experiencing the problem. Smoking, breast trauma, and infections can all occur after surgery, increasing the risk of capsular contracture. Broken blood vessels and autoimmune disorders can also cause the lining around the implant to squeeze it too hard. Even the implant placement may play a role in determining who experiences this issue, as capsular contracture tends to occur more often in implants that are placed over the chest muscle than those that are put under it.
A simple treatment for a ruptured breast implant is replacement, as well as removal of the excess scar tissue around it. There are some alternatives, though, with one being injections of vitamin E and steroids. Some doctors prefer to use newer technology to solve the issue, such as sound waves that can lead to a softer breast, while others just massage the implant until the surrounding scar tissue is broken up. While there is no surefire way to prevent capsular contracture from occurring, the risks may be lowered by massaging the breasts just after the augmentation, as well as occasionally squeezing the implant to keep the lining from becoming inflexible.