Can capsular contracture be prevented?
The short answer: No. There is no way to guarantee that you will never get capsular contracture. However, there are things that you can do to reduce your risks.
- Choose the partial or complete submuscular placement instead of over the muscle placement. Breast implants placed on top of the muscle have been proven to have a higher incidence of capsular contracture. Implants placed over the muscle come into contact with the breast ducts, which are known to harbor bacteria.
- Textured breast implants were invented in hopes of preventing, or at the very least, reducing the incidence of capsular contracture. However, there have been several studies that have shown that when textured breast implants are placed under the muscle, there is really no difference in contracture rates between smooth and textured implants. Textured implants do seem to have a slightly lower risk of contracture than smooth implants when placed above the muscle.
- Silicone gel breast implants, especially those with a smooth shell, seem to have a higher rate of capsular contracture than saline breast implants.
- Post-operative massaging of the implant. Some surgeons recommend massaging to their patients, who usually have smooth implants. The vast majority of surgeons do not recommend massaging textured implants, as the implant is supposed to adhere to your own tissues, and massaging can interfere with that process. Massaging is thought to help keep the pocket open. There are no studies that prove or disprove that massaging helps to prevent capsular contracture, but many surgeon's don't see the harm in allowing their patients to do it. If this something you'd like to do, you should discuss it with your surgeon.
- Taking oral vitamin-E daily. Vitamin E is said to soften collagen fibers. Collagen fibers make up the capsule. There are no studies that prove that Vitamin E can prevent capsular contracture, nor are there studies that prove or disprove that it lessens the effects of capsular contracture. It is important to remember that Vitamin E thins the blood and that it should not be taken prior to surgery without your surgeon's approval. The same advice applies to the early post-op period. Talk with your surgeon prior to taking vitamin E or any other supplement or medication that thins the blood.
- Compression bras and exercises. Some women wear compression bras or sports bras that "flatten" their implants, which helps keep is thought by some to help keep the pocket open. Others do compression exercises such as laying flat on the floor on their tummies, which has the effect of mashing the implant. Again, this is something you will need to discuss with your surgeon. There are many surgeons that are quite particular about the types of bras their patients were post-operatively. Additionally, compression exercises, which can include various types of massage, should be discussed with your surgeon before you begin doing it.
Surgeons generally know what does and does not work for their patients, so it is imperative that you stay on the same page with your surgeon. What works for one person may not work for another person. Everyone is different. Every surgery is different. Always get your surgeon's approval before doing anything that has not been recommended to you by your surgeon.