Any type of surgery involves risk and possible complications. Some complications are common to all surgery - like bruising, swelling and bleeding. Others are unique to the surgery being performed — specifically breast augmentation.
As the number one breast implant complication, I’m super keen to find out all I can about the causes and treatments for capsular contracture.
Capsular Contracture (shortened to ‘cap con’ by plastic surgeons) is the most common breast implant complication. Most cases occur in the first two years after surgery but cap con can develop at any time.
Your body naturally produces a layer of scar tissue around your breast implant. This is a normal body process… in a way it’s a protective mechanism as an implant is seen as a ‘foreign object’ by your body. This only becomes a problem when the scar tissue is super thick. Thick scar tissue around the breast implant inside the breast pocket will compress and squeeze the implant, causing pain and sometimes distortion of the breast appearance.
This tightening of the scar tissue around your breast implant is capsular contracture. There are different grades (1-4) - the higher the grade the more severe the cap con.
We don’t exactly know why it occurs in some women and not in others but there are some links to a certain bacteria getting in to the surgical area.
Treating Capsular Contracture
Grade 1 cap con can be left alone if it’s not bothering the patient. The higher the grade the more likely something will need to be done to treat the cap con.
Up until now the main ‘treatment’ for the higher grades of cap con is revision surgery. This involves removing the breast implant and the capsule of scar tissue followed by treatment with antibiotics and after a resting period, place the new breast implants if desired.
A new Capsular Contracture treatment
I’m all for advancements in plastic surgery as it means things get better for us… the patients!
So I was super excited to learn about a new non-surgical way of treating capsular contracture.
The Aspen System™ is made up of two parts:
Aspen Multi Energy System™ - involving ultrasound energy
Aspen Rehabilitation Technique™ - involving a short course of oral antibiotics + massage
The Aspen Multi Energy System™ part of the treatment involves applying an ultrasound probe (called the Aspen Harmonizer™) to the breast tissue. The energy waves of the ultrasound improve blood circulation to the affected area and also encourages the growth of healthy collagen. Basically it aides the body in healing itself and loosening the scar tissue. This will improve the shape and softness of the breast and improve any asymmetry caused by capsular contracture.
When the ultrasound treatment (carried out over 2-3 weeks), alongside a course of oral antibiotics and massage (the Rehabilitation bit), the results seem to be pretty impressive! In grades 2 & 3 of cap con, 90% of cases treated have reduced the abnormal scar tissue tightness by at least 1 grade. This means no need for surgery yet!
The standout bits of the Aspen Sytem™ are:
It is non-surgical (so, non-invasive)
It is pain-free
It can be used to treat and reverse Grades 2 & 3 of Capsular Contracture
If you’re experiencing the complication of capsular contracture you can find our more about this new treatment and it’s cost via the Aspen website.
Like all new medical advancements we don’t yet have lots of evidence to suggest that the Aspen System™ works. BUT the data so far are encouraging! If you want to find out more, there is currently an FDA clinical trial on the Aspen System to test it’s efficacy: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02840084
Doctors are in the early stages of testing the Aspen System but I, for one, find it really exciting that there is a very real chance that the number one breast implant complication has a non-invasive treatment option on the horizon! ::fingerscrossed!::