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Capsular Contracture - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Posted on
February 12, 2023
Miss Sujatha Tadiparthi

Breast implant capsular contracture is a potential long-term complication of breast augmentation surgery that can cause discomfort and distortion of the breast. This article explains what capsular contracture is, why it occurs and how it can be treated.

What is capsular contracture? How does capsular contracture happen?

It is normal for the body’s immune system to react to an implant and form a thin lining called a ‘capsule’ around it. Capsular contracture is when this lining or ‘capsule’ around the implant gets thickened due to formation of scar tissue. The thick scar tissue when formed, is called ‘capsular contracture’ – as it thickens, it can become tight and can constrict the implant. This causes the breast to harden, become painful and distorted in shape.

Capsular contracture around implants originally placed under the muscle. A capsulectomy, exchange of implants, uplift and change implant position to above the muscle was performed to give a better shape.
Capsular contracture in a 75-year-old lady with implants originally placed above the muscle 35 years ago. A capsulectomy and exchange of implants was performed to give a better shape and relieve the pain.

When does capsular contracture occur?

Capsular contracture usually over occurs slowly over a number of years. There is no set time as to when it can happen. Some women with implants may never develop capsular contracture. It is thought that around 12% of those with Mentor breast implants are thought to develop a significant grade of capsular contracture (grade 3 or 4) around 10 years after having breast implant surgery.

What causes breast implant capsular contracture?

The exact cause of breast implant capsular contracture is unknown, but factors that can increase the risk of developing it include:

  • Bleeding around the implant or haematoma (blood clot around the implant) after surgery
  • Bacterial contamination during surgery
  • Implant infection requiring removal
  • Radiotherapy to the breast or lungs
  • Trauma to the breast after surgery
  • Previous capsular contracture
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy

What problems does capsular contracture cause?

Capsular contracture can cause a variety of breast symptoms

  • Breast pain or discomfort
  • Distortion of the breast shape
  • Hardening of the breast
  • Decreased breast size
  • Implant palpability (ability to feel the implant)
  • Implant can rise high up on your chest while the remaining breast droops down

What are the grades of capsular contracture?

Breast implant capsular contracture is classified into four grades based on how severe it is:

Grade I: The breast is soft, looks and feels normal, and there is no visible sign of capsular


Grade 2: The breast is slightly firm to the touch but there is no distortion of the breast shape and it

looks normal.

Grade 3: The breast is firm to the touch and there is a visible distortion in shape. The breast is not

painful or tender.

Grade 4: The breast is hard, painful and distorted in its shape with a noticeable cosmetic deformity.

This grading system is commonly used by plastic surgeons to diagnose and treat breast implant capsular contracture. However, it is subjective and different surgeons may grade breasts differently.

Does capsular contracture need treatment?

The treatment for breast implant capsular contracture depends on how severe it is.

In the early stages (grade 2) of capsular contracture, just observation and regular monitoring is sufficient.

Treatment may be needed for grades 3 and 4 capsular contracture where there is visible change to the shape of the breasts with cosmetic deformity or the breast becomes uncomfortable.

How is capsular contracture treated?

The surgical options for capsular contracture are:

Capsulectomy and exchange of implants: A capsulectomy and implant exchange is the most commonly performed procedure to treat capsular contracture. The surgeon removes most or all of the thick scar tissue of the capsule and replaces the implant with a new one. A breast uplift may also be necessary if your breasts have become droopy with age – this lifts the nipples and gives the breasts a better shape.

Capsulotomy: The surgeon cuts into the thick scar tissue capsule to release it and therefore release the pressure around the implant.

Capsulectomy and implant removal: In some cases, women choose to have their breast implants and capsule removed altogether and to not have any further implants.

Our expert surgeon, Miss Tadiparthi will undertake a full assessment of your breast implants and discuss the best options for you and what the results will look like.

What is the cost of capsular contracture treatment?

The cost of capsular contracture treatment varies depending on what procedure you require and which clinic or hospital you decide to have surgery. At your consultation, Miss Tadiparthi will let you know which techniques will give the best results for you. Here are some indicative package costs for capsular contracture surgery:

Cost of capsulectomy and exchange of implants is from £8,000.00

Cost of capsulectomy, exchange of implants and breast uplift is from £10,500.00

Get in touch

If you are experiencing any symptoms or signs of breast implant capsular contracture, get in touch or book an appointment online at our various locations in Central and South London.


Tel: 07767 728108

Why book with Choice Aesthetics and Miss Tadiparthi?

  • Experienced friendly empathic female surgeon
  • Over 15 years experience and performed over 5000 plastic surgery procedures
  • Package prices with pre-op tests, surgery, dressings and follow up included
  • Multi-award winning, featured on TV and in the media
  • Featured as a top surgeon in the Tatler Address book
  • 5-star reviews and amazing results
  • Consultations and surgery at multiple locations in Central and South London
  • Online consultations available

Clinics locations:

Central London - 152 Harley Street

Central London - Cadogan Clinic near Sloane Square and Victoria stations

South London, Surrey & Kent - Shirley Oaks Hospital (South Croydon) and North Downs Hospital (Caterham)

Online consultations are also available for those based further away

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