September 29th, 2012 Miguel A. Delgado Jr, MD
After breast augmentation surgery, Dr. Delgado has his patient begin breast massage exercises. This may be uncomfortable for a few days but is a very important step to soften and relax the breast implant pocket. Being vigilant with the massaging will greatly help in the prevention of a possible capsular contracture from forming around the implant which would prevent it from moving freely.
The body’s natural response to a foreign body (in this case the breast implant) is to form a lining around it by your own living tissue. This is referred to as the “capsule”. For some Marin County women, the capsule may tighten and squeeze the breast implant making it feel hard. Capsular contracture can happen at any time for anyone but seems more common after the first few months of surgery.
The degree of contracture is graded on what is called the Baker Grading system. Baker Grade 1 is where the breast is normally soft and looks natural. Everyone is at least Grade 1 as everyone has a capsule form. If it starts shrinking/contracting, the implant will feel more firm going from a grade 2 to grade 4, grade 4 being the most severe, causing pain and distortion.
The cause of capsular contracture is still not clear. It is believed that infection, hematoma or a seroma may put a woman at greater risk. Some women may develop a capsular contracture for no known reason.
Studies have shown that massaging seems to reduce the likelihood of forming a capsular contracture. Dr. Delgado will give detailed instructions on how to do this at the first post operative appointment usually three days after surgery. The exercises are to be done hourly for three months and then daily.