Question: I don’t understand what a capsular contracture actually is. Can you explain?
With pleasure. Whenever you have an implant in your body, your tissues set down a thin layer of tissue between the implant and your living tissues. This is called a capsule.
If the implant irritates your tissues in some way, your body reacts by thickening the capsule. Often it is something called a biofilm, where bacteria live the capsule, but don’t create an active infection. There are, however, many other causes of irritation. A body cell, called the fibroblast, does the thickening by laying down more and more healing protein. The fibroblast can then become a myofibroblast – this means it becomes like muscle and starts to pull on the scar. (It is the body’s natural way of making scars as small as possible.)
When the scar is inside your body, the effect is to shrink and thicken the capsule until the implant is too big for it. This causes you pain and makes the implant look abnormal, and the capsule needs to be removed. Of course, capsular contractures can have many different appearances and can be many different thicknesses and sizes. Smaller thinner ones need only to be released, and not removed.