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Capsular Contracture - When the Breast Implant Fails

Capsular Contracture

February 29, 2016

Journal Dump #075

Part 1

It's been 2 years, one month and 20 days since I had my double mastectomy. Life is good. Things are back to normal… or rather the 'after cancer new normal' as many survivors would say. I have moved past my anger for having had to go through chemo and radiation and am mentally myself again - taking on many new challenges.  But today I was offered a little reminder that although my life is pretty close to what it once was (even my hair is only about 2 or 3 inches short of being back to pre-chemo length), the effects due to the big C will never be far from the forefront.

I had a doctor appointment this morning with my reconstruction surgeon to talk about the pain and tightness in my right breast. It hurts all the time and I can't sleep on my right side.  It sits on my chest differently than the left one, but I figured that was due to the radiation - which forever shrunk, shriveled and screwed up my skin in that area.  Well, apparently, I have what is called capsular contracture.

“The main long term problem after implant surgery is that a fibrous capsule may form around the implant. Although silicone is safe, it is still foreign to the body. The normal reaction of the body to any foreign tissue is to form a fibrous covering around it. The fibrous covering is known as a capsule.

Over some years, the capsule can shrink, squeezing the implant. Doctors call this capsular contracture. It happens in about 1 in 6 patients. It makes the breast painful and hard, and changes its shape. If the shape changes a lot, you may have to have the implant taken out and replaced.”

“Capsular contracture: Once a breast implant is in place, scar tissue forms around it, creating what's called a tissue capsule. These tissue capsules usually are soft or slightly firm and not noticeable. But in a small number of women, a hard tissue capsule forms that can be painful and distort the shape of the breast. This is called capsular contracture.

Research has shown that implants with a textured surface can help reduce the risk of capsular contracture compared to implants with a smooth surface.

Radiation therapy given after reconstruction surgery can increase the risk of a scar tissue capsule forming. 

If capsular contracture does happen, a surgeon can break up the scar tissue and replace the implant if necessary.”

So, as suggested by my doctor, another surgery is in my future. He said that it will only get worse over time so replacing the implants necessary. 

Now where am I going to find the time to put a surgery and recovery on my calendar?



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